Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is a history maker. At a time when network TV is on the decline, Shonda has managed to create, write, and produce hit after hit. 12 years ago yesterday, Grey’s Anatomy premiered and soon McDreamy and McSteamy were household names of characters we really cared about. In addition to Grey’s Anatomy, she is responsible for Scandal (my binge du jur), How to Get Away With Murder, and many more hit shows. Before her TV writing career, she wrote the screenplay for Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, as well as documentaries and other films. Her TV shows feature women in important lead roles with real careers and real struggles. These women are multi-dimensional people who bring passion and personality to bear in their work—whether it’s practicing medicine or practicing law, working at the White House or becoming a princess. The women in Shonda’s imagination can be at the top of their profession and still like fashion. They can be feminists and still be feminine—or not! They can have their professional lives completely together while their personal lives are falling apart, or vice versa. “The beauty of being a feminist is that you get to be whatever you want, and that’s the point,” she said, and her characters reflect that philosophy. Shonda was born in Chicago, the youngest of 6 children. Her mother earned her PhD while raising her six children, a feat which makes Shonda’s accomplishments while raising 3 children as a single mother seem like child’s play—which reminds me of another Shonda story. In 2015, Shonda wrote a book called “The Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person,” describing how she decided that for one whole year—at least—she would say yes to everything. This all started when her youngest daughter asked her to play and she said yes even though she was headed off to somewhere else to do something else. She vowed then and there to always say yes whenever her kids asked her to play. So, she said yes to more play and less work and, in all that yes-saying, she ended up reigniting her passion for her work and becoming a more productive and imaginative storyteller. She reminds us that it’s good to say yes to more of the good stuff—more rose smelling, more kite flying, more playing.

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