@edkang99 Life (re)Startup Blog:

#HIITO: High Intensity Interval Time & Transformation Optimization

MDNA Celebrity Profile: Olivia Pope (Scandal) – IAF/UCD

How the main character of this hit series fixes scandals and is motivated by her instincts.


Fictional characters also can have MDNA Profiles. Typically every great character is based upon somebody in real life, except the persona and core traits are amplified. This makes learning the principles of their MDNA Profile much easier and a valuable exercise. Not to mention it can be fun and entertaining.

Olivia Pope

IAF / UCD (Intuitive Alignment & Fulfillment / Unyielding Conviction & Design)

In the television series Scandal, starring Kerry Washington, Olivia Pope is a former White House communications director that has started a freelance “legal” agency of sorts. As a crisis management firm, Pope’s specialty is “fixing” problems—scandalous problems. She is portrayed at first being fearless, sharp and unflinching with the uncanny ability to find solutions to complex situations (starting with Russian gangsters and kidnapped babies).

At first, this would indicate a UCD profile. The UCD is known for the ability to solve problems, especially amidst chaos. The UCD is also black and white when it comes to ideologies. Olivia Pope’s entire team is very aware of her expectations and beliefs (for example crying is something you just do not do because Olivia does not believe in crying).

During the first episode however, an interesting twist is revealed. (SPOILER ALERT: We apologize in advance if you plan on seeing the show as we can’t successfully provide you with a profile without spoiling the plot.) Olivia Pope has a secret past. She had an affair with the President of the United States.

This is the point where our fascinating character, adeptly portrayed by Kerry Washington, shows her true primary MDNA Profile. Olivia Pope is an IAF.

The first indicator is the IAF is designed for intimacy. Deep down, despite her seemingly stout exterior, Pope exhibits a desire to be close to the man she cares for. The IAF is also known for high levels of self-sacrifice, which she also demonstrated by leaving her job, and relationship so he could “become a better man”, with the presidential administration. Finally, the IAF can be fiercely loyal while at the same time becoming deeply wounded and offended by the people they care for. This, again, is clearly evident in how Pope handles another one of the President’s extra-marital affairs.

Most importantly however, Olivia Pope exhibits absolute trust in her “gut” and a passionate desire to see others achieve personal fulfillment. This can be seen in how she makes decisions and also coaches one of her staff in getting engaged. She repeatedly must look people in the eye to rely upon her intuition to sense the motives of her clients. Also there is the satisfaction she receives when her client in the first episode reveals to the public that he is gay after she coaches him to accept who he is. These are all core IAF motivational drivers.

Put this together and Olivia Pope is an IAF primary (her “promise”) with a UCD secondary (her “personality” which is how she delivers her “promise).

This sets the stage for dramatic television because the two profiles are the furthest apart on the MDNA spectrum. It is well documented that individuals with an IAF/UCD or UCD/IAF profile experience the most inner conflict. Olivia Pope is no exception which not only translates to great entertainment, but an amplified peek into the complexities of the IAF.

Only by watching the rest of the episodes (at this writing the show is on season 3) can we confirm whether Kerry Washington’s character will stay true her MDNA Profile. We’ll leave that up to the fans of the show. Feel free to send us your comments and feedback.

SIDE NOTE: In case you were wondering, Pope’s newest hire Quinn Perkins is also an IAF primary. However, she represents a less seasoned version of the IAF with a much softer skin compared to her new boss. Her character arc will most likely reflect how the IAF must reconcile the conviction and tolerance for pain her new career and mentor will represent on the way to finding her own personal fulfillment. Again, feel free to let us know if we’re right about this one too.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: