The Entreprenuerial and Personal Growth of Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes has created a slate of must-see TV on Thursday nights. She is responsible for approximately 70 hours of television programming a year which comes to a total of about $350 million dollars spent on her shows annually. A lot of people would say that Rhimes has a dream job, and while Rhimes adores what she does and loves to work, she says,

A dream job is not about dreaming. It’s all job, all work, all reality, all blood, all sweat, no tears.

This is the story of how Shonda Rhimes has revolutionized television and has grown as a person along the way...

Shonda Rhimes earned her undergraduate degree from Dartmouth where she majored in both English and Film Studies. She went on to earn her Master of Fine Arts degree from the USC school of Cinematic Art where she was named top of her class and earned a prominent writing fellowship. Rhimes resided in Los Angeles, working various jobs such as an office administrator and counselor while she looked for a big break in the film industry. In 1996, Rhimes directed her first short film with stars Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jeffrey Wright, who have since gone on to become notable Hollywood actors. This would be Rhimes’ only directing credit as she focused her attention more on writing. She went on to pen scripts for movies such as Crossroads, which starred Britney Spears, and both Princess Diaries films, which put Oscar-Winning star Anne Hathaway on the map.

Rhimes’ career took off exponentially in 2006 when Grey’s Anatomy premiered on television. The show has remained a hit show over 12 seasons, totaling 269 episodes. Grey’s Anatomy will be back for its thirteenth season this fall. This brought on a spinoff series, called Private Practice, which ran for 6 seasons totaling 111 episodes. In 2012, Scandal premiered, and became instantly popular much like Grey’s Anatomy was. In 2014, How to Get Away with Murder premiered, and sustained the critical and commercial success that all of Rhimes’ shows have garnered. These three shows and sophomore mystery drama The Catch are a part of a 4-hour block on ABC Thursday nights branded T.G.I.T. (Thank God It’s Thursday) Rhimes serves as an executive producer on all of these shows.

One of the best things Rhimes has done for television is bringing more diversity to television. Two of her shows, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder have two talented leads in Kerry Washington and Viola Davis, who are both women of color. In Hollywood, minority women are not often given lead roles in large network dramas or films. The fact that Rhimes has created a show with enormous followings will hopefully change things for the better. Rhimes’ characters are also praised for the dimension they have, this has particularly ringed true for her female leads in all of her shows. “Most of the women I saw on TV didn’t seem like people I actually knew. They felt like ideas for what women are,” Rhimes said. Rhimes continues to change the perception of female characters on television by continually creating dimensions and authentic storylines that may sometimes be considered too risque for network TV.

Rhimes’ company Shondaland employs a staff of 750 people. She works relentlessly for this euphoric feeling where everything in her life feels synchronized like a well-oiled machine. she calls it the hum. She gets a vast majority of this feeling from her hard work, she’d be the first to admit that she’s a workaholic, she is a self-proclaimed Titan. However, for a long time, there was a component missing in her life that left Rhimes not enjoy herself. The hum was gone, and all of the success in the world couldn’t bring it back. Rhimes had an epiphany when her young daughter asked her if she would play with her. Rhimes was nearly out the door on the way to a busy day, when she decided to take 15 minutes to play with her daughter. This kicked off her year of saying yes to things within reason. The primary result was to institute more balance in her life, become closer with her children, and do the things that scared her. Rhimes’ year of saying yes to things became a rousing success story to compound to her list of accomplishments. She was able to overcome her fear of public speaking, she was able to have a deeper connection with her children simply by playing with them, even for it was for a very short amount of time. To cap it all off, Rhimes lost over 100 pounds by dieting and exercising. You can read more about it in her book titled Year of Yes.

Rhimes is a great role-model for those who wish to storm through obstacles and ignore the naysayers. She’s living proof of how far hard work and a sharp mind can take a person. More importantly,  she’s also living proof that no matter who how successful you are, there’s always room for you to grow and discover new things about yourself and the world around you.

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