Taking Over Television

If by chance you have never heard of Shonda Rhimes, you most likely have seen her shows on television: “Grey’s Anatomy”, “Private Practice, and Scandal. She is the creator, head writer, executive producer and showrunner for all three shows. In addition, Rhimes is the executive producer for the show, “How to Get Away With Murder”. Rewinding twelve years, Rhimes is sitting at home watching television with her adopted baby. This is when she decides to take over the world through television. What started off as what she calls “kind of a joke” has developed into a reality – a reality that is still growing.

Growing up in Chicago, her interests in storytelling were apparent when she told her own original stories into a tape recorder, giving it to her mother to transcribe. In high school, she would volunteer at hospital, which she would later say inspired her to write “Grey’s Anatomy”. Next, she attended Dartmouth College, where she earned bachelor’s degrees in film studies and English. But Rhimes’s education didn’t stop there as she earned a Master of Fine Arts degree from USC’s School of Cinematic Arts (top three schools in the country for filmmaking).

Even with such a prestigious degree in the world of cinema, Rhimes was an unemployed scriptwriter for a couple years. Instead, she worked jobs to make ends meet, a common struggle for artists. In 1998, things began to look up when Rhimes directed a short film, “Blossoms and Veils”, starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jeffrey Wright. Soon after sold the feature-length version to New Line Cinema, making it her first purchased script. She then went on to sell two other features such as “The Crossroads”, and the “The Princess Diaries”.

Moving on to television, “Grey’s Anatomy” was Rhimes’s first show. At its peak, so far, it an average of 19.44 million people tuning in per episode.  Not only did she create it, and executively produce it, but even after eleven seasons of airtime, Rhimes is still head writer! Throw in “Private Practice”, “Scandal”, and “How to Get Away With Murder”, Rhimes shows have had an enormous following. For the latest season of “Scandal”, there was an average of 9.19 million viewers per episode, 10.9 million for “Private Practice”, over 14 million for “How To Get Away With Murder” (only one season so far). All shows are scheduled for more seasons. These shows are made under her production company, Shondaland. Rhimes has turned television primetime into Shondaland. And her shows always star powerful women who we view as real women.

Here is a link to nine inspiring quotes from the great Shonda Rhimes herself:


Primetime Recognition

The Emmy’s Awards (Primetime Emmy) recognizes and celebrates greatness in the world of Primetime Television. It is the “Academy Awards” of television. Recognizable shows such as “The Cosby Show”, “I Love Lucy”, “Everybody Hates Chris”, and “Seinfeld” have all won Emmy’s. Set to be aired on September 20th, this year’s Emmy’s has already broken a record with the most African American nominations ever: 18. The nominations span across all acting categories, eclipsing last year’s record of 11 nominations of African Americans – a record high at the time.

This year’s Emmy’s also marks the first time in which two African Americans are nominated for Best Actress, Drama category. Taraji P Henson is nominated for Empire and Viola Davis is nominated for How To Get Away With Murder.  Viola Davis, who has been nominated for two Oscars, explains her satisfaction with the nominations. “This is absolutely a great sign. It’s the fact that television has expanded. There are different networks, therefore there are different narratives. They have to be inclusive of sheer numbers. I just feel it’s our time. We have a black president, a black first lady. Looking at the global world in a homogenized way doesn’t work anymore. We now include the gay community, transgender, black and Asian. We look at the world differently now. When I was young, it was The Brady Bunch and Sanford and Son. If you were Hispanic you liked Disco. I you were white you liked Rock n’. Roll. The world doesn’t work that way anymore. It’s a case of art imitating life.”

The other sixteen African American actor nominees are: David Oyelowo for Nightingale, Queen Latifah for Bessie, Andre Braugher for Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Anthony Anderson for Black-ish, Don Cheadle for House of Lies, Uzo Aduba for Orange Is The New Black, Reg. E. Cathey for House of Cards, Cicely Tyson for How To Get Away With Murder, Khandi Alexander for Scandal, Keegan-Michael Kay for Key & Peele, Tituss Burgess for Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Niecy Nash for Getting On, Michael Kenneth Williams for Bessie, Regina King for American Crime, Angela Bassett for American Horror Story: Freak Show, and Mo’Nique for Bessie. Although she noitices progression in recognizing African American greatness in the world of prime time cable, Mo’Nique is still unsatisfied with the number of nominations. “This trend [at the Emmys] makes sense, it’s going toward a great direction. But still, we have to say 18 nominations and it’s 2015? How long have the Emmys been going on? I’ll be glad when it’s 25 or 50 if it’s fair and it just makes sense.”

But one thing is certain: African Americans are making a significant impact on television. But Shonda Rhimes, who is the executive producer for the nominated show How to Get Away With Murder, plans on doing more than “making a significant impact”.  She plans on, “taking over the world through television.” With prevalent shows such as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, Private Practice, and How To Get Away With Murder under her belt, she is certainly all over television.