The 10 Awesomest Things About Shonda Rhimes


A worth-your-while New York Times profile of Shonda Rhimes — creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal — is chock-full of awesome.

As Willa Paskin writes, Rhimes, 43, is “often described as the most powerful African-American female show runner in television — which is too many adjectives. She is one of the most powerful show runners in the business, full stop.”

By the by, did you know that with 8.3 million viewers, Scandal gets higher ratings than Parks and Rec (2.5 million), Mad Men (3.4 million) and Game of Thrones (4.4 million)?

Anyway, you should definitely read the entire piece. But here’s a breakdown of the highlights:

1. She went to film school just to challenge herself

A self-described Tracy Flick type, ambition is her motivation.

After graduating from Dartmouth, she read an article in The Times that said getting into U.S.C. film school was harder than getting into Harvard Law and thought, This sounds like a really competitive thing to do. I’m going to do it.

2. She hates people who assume that Scandal is just for women, like chick lit

“It’s superinsulting that because [lead character] Olivia is a woman, and the girl who wrote ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ wrote this, it must be for chicks,” Rhimes says. “Like if it’s geared for women, it’s somehow not as serious as if it’s geared for men.”

3. Oprah loves her

Duh. Obvs.

4. She’s a single mom who oversees a staff of 550 people

Leaning the fuck in.

5. “Both of her daughters have rooms across the hall from her office at work.”

“The younger, a perfectly chubby-cheeked 1-year-old named Emerson, comes in every day, clambering onto Rhimes’s lap during meetings.” Learning firsthand that ladies run things.

6. She’s nice but firm in the workplace

As she does her rounds, Rhimes says hello to strangers in the elevator and tells one director, working late into the night, “You are so pretty and talented.” But she also has a no-nonsense authority, a matter-of-fact bluntness. After a discussion with her writers in her office goes on longer than she wants, she breezily ends it: “Don’t talk about it in here anymore. I’m done.”

7. On Scandal, a man is the damsel in distress

Rhimes likes to point out that on her show, America is run by an African-American spin expert, a scheming first lady and a mercenary gay guy who also happens to be in one of the sexiest homosexual marriages on television. “I joked to Tony Goldwyn that on another television series, he’d be the pretty girl that all the men are trying to save,” Rhimes says. “That’s what he is, except he happens to also be the leader of the free world.”

8. She has Asian, black, white and gay characters, but refuses to make an issue of it:

“I think it’s sad, and weird, and strange that it’s still a thing,” she told me over the phone a few months ago. “It’s 2013. Somebody else needs to get their act together. And, oh, by the way, it works. Ratings-wise, it works.”

9. She uses the word awesomest!

To me, the awesomest part of my job is I get to type ‘interior Oval Office’ and know that someone’s going to build me an Oval Office, and I get to go play in it.

10. Whatever comes next is gonna be good:

She has a couple of projects she is eager to do, one of which is a show about “a woman carrying a gun and kicking people’s butts.”

Apparently she’s inspired by and slightly jealous of Alias: “I would have loved to have been the person who came up with it. I don’t think it’s been done by a woman. And that’s where my mind is.”

[New York Times]

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