When we think of Shonda Rhimes, words like “brilliant,” “badass,” and “trailblazer” are the first to come to mind. But last Saturday at the Producers Guild Awards in Los Angeles, Shonda explained why the last of the three shouldn’t be the case — and in the process, brought up an important point about diversity in Hollywood.
“It’s not trailblazing to write the world as it actually is,” she said during her acceptance speech for the Norman Lear Achievement Award.
Shonda went on to explain that the diversity we see on her shows like How To Get Away With Murder, Scandal, and Grey’s Anatomy is merely the result of her “creat[ing] the content that [she] wanted to see, and creat[ing] what [she knows] is normal.” In fact, calling it “trailblazing” may actually be harmful towards her work.
“I have, against no odds, ‘courageously’ pioneered the art of writing for people of color as if they were human beings,” she said. “I’ve ‘bravely’ gone around just casting parts for actors who were the best ones. I ‘fearlessly’ faced down ABC when they completely agreed with me that Olivia Pope should be black.”
She even had some questions about the award itself:
Then, she threw down the gauntlet, turning towards industry influencers in the audience and asking why there aren’t more opportunities for black women in Hollywood.
“What are we waiting for? I mean, I know this is a room full of producers, so probably you’re waiting for money,” she said.
Shonda went on to further underscore the fact that she didn’t face much backlash when she first proposed more diverse characters, so there’s not even that excuse:
However, while she makes an incredibly good point, HTGAWM star Viola Davis was quick to highlight in her own speech at the ceremony that Shonda has a lot to be proud of.
“In a year, a month, hell, a week in which everyone is talking about diversity, she is living proof that the curve that many people are behind was drawn by her,” she said.
As always, we’re thankful to Shonda for fighting for what’s important, and spearheading the movement to give Hollywood something it desperately needs: diversification.
(Image via Mark Davis/Getty.)