Props: Shonda Rhimes.
Scandal. Grey’s Anatomy. Private Practice. These tv shows all have 2 things in common: they are amazing, and they were created by Shonda Rhimes.
Shonda not only creates dramatic storylines that leave viewers’ jaws dropping week after week, but she is a trailblazer for diversity in television. Here are 5 ways she is ahead of the competition:
1. She casts minorities in lead roles.
You will probably be surprised to hear that only 15% of the top movies in 2013 featured women in the main role. And only about 11% of lead roles in movies go to minorities, according to the 2014 Hollywood Diversity Report.2 Shonda definitely achieves her goal of breaking that trend. Grey’s Anatomy boasts one of the most diverse casts on television, and Scandal’s main character, Olivia Pope, is a confident, no-nonsense
African American woman.
2. She never loses your attention.
For every one plot twist in your average tv show, Shonda’s shows have four. With the expansive libraries available online these days, tv shows need to grasp a viewer in and never let them go, or else they will get bored and move on. Shonda achieves this by leading you through dramatic twists and turns, but her secret is that she makes them feel natural. You never really know what a character is capable of, and that is because…
3. She blurs the line between good and evil.
You might not realize it, but virtually every show, movie, or book you have ever read/seen has a “good guy” and a “bad guy”. But people aren’t all good or all bad. We are just…human, and Shonda’s characters reflect that. You find yourself tearing up when [SPOILER ALERT] the (ex) leader of the enemy group, B-16, is shot and dying (or so we thought) in Olivia’s arms.
Speaking of crying…
4. She appreciates the need for a good tear jerker.
And I refuse to cry while writing a blog post so I will not be recapping any moments that would prove my point. Take my word for it or, better yet, watch it for yourself. Just be sure to take your mascara off first.
5. She has an inspirational career path
While this is not a rags to riches type of story (her parents worked at a university), she did her fair share of dirty work before making it big. After graduating from Dartmouth college, she worked as an office administrator and then a counselor to pay the bills. She slowly climbed the ladder through writing, and eventually directing, films before becoming known for her multiple tv series. Her next pilot is a suspenseful drama set around a group of law students and a professor who get caught up in a murder scheme.4 Shonda knew exactly what she wanted, and she took the steps to get there.
And for that, Shonda Rhimes, I give you Props.
1. Cara Buckley, “Only 15 Percent of Top Films in 2013 Put Women in Lead Roles, Study Finds,” The New York Times (2014), http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/11/only-15-percent-of-top-films-in-2013-put-women-in-lead-roles-study-finds/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=1.
2. Greg Braxton, “Film, TV Industry’s Diversity Doesn’t Look Like America’s, Report Says,” Los Angeles Times (2014),
3. Lindsey Bahr, “Shonda Rhimes on her DGA Diversity Award: ‘We’re a Tiny Bit P-ssed Off That There Has to be an Award,’” Entertainment Weekly, last modified January 26, 2014, http://insidetv.ew.com/2014/01/26/shonda-rhimes-dga-diversity-award/.
4. “ABC Orders Shondaland Pilot ‘How To Get Away With Murder,’” IMDb, last modified December 19, 2013, http://www.imdb.com/news/ni56566251/.
Host of the CyberProps podcast, PropsCast, where we give proper recognition to the ordinary, extraordinary, and everything in between.