Shonda Rhimes, the executive producer behind hit television shows “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Scandal”, and “How to Get Away With Murder”, was honored with the Sherry Lansing Award for leadership on Wednesday at The Hollywood Reporter’s 23rd annual Women in Entertainment Breakfast.
The incredibly guarded Rhimes then told the powerful audience at Milk Studios in Los Angeles that she came from a large and incredibly competitive family where nobody gets trophies “for being you.” So to get an award for being a woman and an African-American, Rhimes said to laughs, “to get all Beyonce about it, people, ‘I woke up like this.'”
“I know this isn’t an award because I’m a woman or because I’m African-American. I know that it’s really about breaking the glass ceiling that exists in the face of being a woman and being black in this very male, very white town.,” said Rhimes, who was surrounded by Shondaland favorites including producing partner Betsy Beers, Kate Walsh (Private Practice), Darby Stanchfield (Scandal), Jesse Williams (Grey’s Anatomy), Portia de Rossi (Scandal), Geena Davis (Grey’s Anatomy), and Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal; Grey’s Anatomy). “But I haven’t broken through the glass ceiling.”
” ‘Do they know I haven’t broken through any glass ceilings,’ I asked my publicist. He assures me that I have. I assure him that I have not. I have not broken through any glass ceilings. If I had broken through any glass ceilings, I would know,” said Rhimes, whose speech could easily have been one of Grey’s Anatomy‘s or Scandal‘s monologues about women in society. “If I had broken through a glass ceiling, I would have felt some cuts, I would have some bruises, there’d be shards of glass in my hair. … If I’d broken the glass ceiling, that would mean I made it through to the other side, where the air is rare. I would feel the wind on my face.
“The view from here — way up here where the glass ceiling is broken — would be incredible. Right? So how come I don’t remember the moment? When me with my woman-ness and my brown skin went running full speed, gravity be damned, into that thick layer of glass and smashed right through it? How come I don’t remember that happening? Here’s why: It’s 2014. This moment right here, me standing up here all brown with my boobs and my Thursday night of network television full of women of color, competitive women, strong women, women who own their bodies and whose lives revolve around their work instead of their men, women who are big dogs, that could only be happening right now. Think about it. Look around this room. It’s filled with women of all colors in Hollywood who are executives and heads of studios and VPs and show creators and directors. There are a lot of women in Hollywood in this room who have the game-changing ability to say yes or no to something.”
I think the fact that Shonda is so humble in a world where arrogance sometimes becomes second nature is refreshing. And Shonda Rhimes is an inspiration to writers all over, including me. What do you think fam?