By Jessica Wray
About two years ago, I fell in love with Washington.
Of course, the Washington I fell for wasn’t real, but it made me want to know more about the city and the driven people who live here.
I can’t say I watched “The West Wing when the show was on air – I was only 8 years old when the show began – but the characters made an impression on me.
The fast-paced, witty personality the show took on had me hooked within the first five minutes. I don’t care what party you root for, “The West Wing’s” audience wanted its protagonists to prevail.
And now, here I am in D.C., living a dream I’ve had for a few years. I’m walking in places I saw on television, and I’m taking selfies in famous places where great people have been. In all of these pictures and in all of these places, I keep thinking about my all-time favorite show.
On my first visit to the White House, I was nervous and shaky. I was scared I was going to sit in the wrong spot or walk on some patch of grass I wasn’t supposed to. I could see in my mind mistakenly walking on the wrong sidewalk and being tackled by guards. But when I got into the press briefing room, after snapping a quick iPhone photo, my first thought was, “This doesn’t look like C.J. Craig’s briefing room.”
Craig, played by Allison Janney, was the fictional press secretary for President Jed Bartlett. She was a strong female character – quick, intelligent and good-looking in that “I’m smarter than you” way.
So on my second trip to the White House, I couldn’t help but pose for a photo behind the press secretary’s lectern. (Thanks, Katherine Burgess, an intern at the Washington Journalism Center, for snapping my picture.)
I’m never going to forget that moment.
The show’s cast has also caught up to me in a very unusual way. While I was writing a story about the increase of money in judicial campaigns in the last decade, I stumbled across an ad for a candidate running for an open Supreme Court justice seat in Michigan.
A candidate whose sister happened to have been an actress on “The West Wing.”
I couldn’t help but smile as I watched the four-minute video for the first time. It’s quick, and the banter among the characters from the show is fantastic.
The advertisement was a small nugget of fun in my otherwise serious day.
This semester in Washington has made me love the city even more. The real city, that is, not the D.C. Aaron Sorkin created.
I know that when I leave the capital I’ll be ready to finish my last semester of school and move on to my career.
I’ll be ready to ask, “What’s next?”