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SNEAK PEEK at Shonda Rhimes

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Shonda Rhimes Photo Credit: MG Media

Shonda Rhimes is a screenwriter, director and producer; best known as the creator, head writer, and executive producer of the medical drama television seriesGrey’s Anatomy and its spin-off Private Practice.

In May 2007, Rhimes was named one ofTime magazine’s 100 people who help shape the world. Rhimes was an executive producer for the medical drama series Off the Map, and developed the ABC drama seriesScandal, which debuted mid-season, 2012.
After watching the next to last season episode last evening, it was time to look at the show’s creator. The show is great! It’s pure enjoyment and suspense and it’s not about a Black woman, but a powerfully smart woman who knows her way around the political and media scene and who’s extremely independent, and who also, like us all, has flaws and lust for what she wants and who fortunately can get what she needs. The characters are fascinating and people can see this as real-life, not just a guilty pleasure.
Rhimes was born in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of a university administrator and a college professor. Rhimes has stated that she exhibited an early affinity for storytelling and that her time spent as a candy striper while in high school sparked an interest in hospital environments. Rhimes attended Marian Catholic High School, before enrolling at Dartmouth College, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree. At Dartmouth, she divided her time between fiction and directing and performing in plays.
After college, she relocated to San Francisco, working in advertising. Rhimes would later relocate to Los Angeles to attend USC to study screenwriting. Rhimes was ranked at the top of her class and earned the prestigious Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship Award. Rhimes earned a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern California’s School of Cinema-Television.
Rhimes made her directorial debut in 1998 with the short film Blossoms and Veilsstarring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jeffrey Wright. This was soon followed by an assignment to write the acclaimed 1999 HBO movie, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, starring Halle Berry. In 2001, Rhimes wrote Crossroads, the debut film of pop singerBritney Spears. She then moved on to Disney’s sequel to its popular 2001 movie, The Princess Diaries and The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement.
Rhimes created a new pilot for ABC in 2010 called Inside the Box, a female-centric ensemble drama set in a Washington, D.C. network news bureau. In May 2011, Kerry Washington was introduced as (Olivia Pope) in Scandal, who played a political crisis management expert. Rhimes spoke about why everyone loves and hate Olivia Pope, and her bafflement by the lack of racial diversity on TV.
MG Media: How much do you like these characters?
Shonda: I adore them. Honestly. You can’t tell stories and really walk in someone’s shoes and not have a love for them, even if they’re doing horrible things. I feel great sympathy for Cyrus, who I know is a murderer. I know he’s a murderer. I feel great sympathy for him. He’s one of my favorite characters because as far as he’s concerned, he’s the biggest patriot out there, he’s just doing what is best for the country.
MG Media: Why are you so interested in telling stories from the mistress’s point of view? All of your shows have it. What is that about?
Shonda: I don’t know. I will be honest and say I don’t know and I do not want to explore it very much. People keep asking me this question. I don’t have the answer. I’m not anybody’s mistress, I will say that. I don’t know, there’s something about it that’s very intriguing to me. I think that shadowy life, that completely secret life, the duality of that existence is interesting.
MG Media: Why did you make Fitz a Republican?
Shonda: There were several reasons why I didn’t make him a Democrat. One, we have a Democratic president in office right now and I wanted — Kerry [Washington] works on Obama’s council — and I wanted absolutely no comparisons to Obama. Like, none. In any way, shape or form. Two, I didn’t want him to be a Democrat because of the Monica Lewinsky-Clinton thing, and we were telling the Amanda Tanner story in Season 1, I just didn’t want that to be a thing.
MG Media: How much pride do you take in the fact that your casts are much more racially diverse than most other shows?
Shonda: I don’t take pride in it at all. I think it’s sad, and weird, and strange that it’s still a thing, nine years after we did “Grey’s,” that it’s still a thing. It’s creepy to me that it’s still an issue, that there aren’t enough people of color on television. Why is that still happening? It’s 2013. Somebody else needs to get their act together. And oh, by the way it works. Ratings-wise, it works. People like to see it. I don’t understand why people don’t understand that the world of TV should look like the world outside of TV.
Rhimes adopted her first daughter, Harper, in June 2002 and adopted another girl in February 2012 named Emerson Pearl. – MG Media

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