Shonda Rhimes: ‘I’m awesome. And I work with a ton of other awesome women’


Corey covered Lady Gaga’s speech at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards. Shonda Rhimes was also honored with the Luminary Award that was presented by Ellen Pompeo. As we know, Ellen made headlines earlier this year by securing an equitable deal to continue Grey’s Anatomy. But Ellen’s not the only one making headlines about their TV paycheck. Shonda used her speech to tell the room that she is, “the highest paid showrunner in television.” And if that sounds like bragging to you, you’re right. Because that was exactly Shonda’s intent, to remind women that men brag all the time about their accomplishments while women are taught to sit back and let men take the spotlight. But Shonda wants to put an end to that thinking and she’s starting with herself.

In a world in which women of all colors are constantly forced to battle with men for equity and inclusion, we [Rhimes and Ellen Pompeo, who presented her with her award] had the good fortune to work in an environment that we had nurtured and built with enough of our sweat and tears over enough years that we no longer needed to battle men to get to the top of a mountain. We just built our own mountains and then we realized all we simply had to do was equalize and include one another.

I tell you this for two reasons. One, I’m awesome. And I work with a ton of other equally awesome women. And women do not brag enough. The other day I came to this conclusion that men brag and women hide. Even when they don’t deserve to brag, men brag, like Trump and Kavanaugh. When men do deserve to brag they are good at it. They do it so well. Men brag about everything. Even things that aren’t things.

A little while ago in an inspiring article, Ellen [Pompeo] told the world she was the highest paid woman in dramatic television. She did not hide. She bragged. She said she was powerful and she said she deserved it. And there was some blowback. And there should not have been. I have seen a thousand articles like that from men, but she’s a woman and she shouldn’t say things like that. She should hide. I was really mad on her behalf but then what did I go and do.

Ryan Murphy, bless your amazingly talented heart. When Ryan, who is here, made his amazing deal with Netflix what did he do? He shouted his salary to the world and he did this gorgeous cover shoot for the Hollywood Reporter. He deserved every minute of it and I applauded him. When I made a deal with Netflix, I let them report my salary wrong in the press and I did as few interviews as possible. Then I put my head down and worked. In other words, I hid. I’m getting this award for inspiring other women and how can I inspire anyone if I’m hiding?

So, let me take a deep breath. And on behalf of women everywhere in the name of not leaving my sister hanging, I will brag. I got to say this is harder than I thought. I am the highest paid showrunner in television.

[From Elle]

You can read Shonda’s full speech here. I love everything Shonda said. It also made me think about who does the bragging in my house. My husband brags about himself and I don’t. Part of that is how we were raised – none of my family members brag about themselves and all of his do. (I do brag about my kids, my husband, my pets, etc. so I’m still a drag at parties.) But the truth is, I would sit back, just as Shonda did, and let someone report my accomplishments incorrectly rather than actually stand up and support what I’ve done. That’s sad. I can’t do that anymore.

Shonda echoes the sentiments that other actresses have said about being deemed ‘difficult’ when they’re just standing up for themselves. Which led Shonda to her next point: that we empower others by doing speaking up. Every woman that says, ‘hey, I’m awesome and look at this goal I just met,’ just resets the bar as to how high women can dream. Shonda said she told the story about being the highest paid because “the struggle we are in the midst of that feels so hard is hard but it is not impossible.” And I get that, because a woman being the highest paid showrunner on TV did seem impossible a while ago. I’m reimagining what’s possible, not just for me but for my daughter. Shonda ended by reminding everyone that the struggle becomes possible through a strong community. “Widen your circle to hold more people. Lose your judgments of who someone is based on what you’ve heard or what you assumed.”

Story via Kathleen at Lainey Gossip




Photo credit: WENN Photos

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14 Responses to “Shonda Rhimes: ‘I’m awesome. And I work with a ton of other awesome women’”

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  1. ByTheSea says:

    She’s right. The Orange Anus proves. Men get away with bragging about everything and being believed instantly. Women feel like we have to “prove” ourselves and end up with nothing a lot of times. It’s time we started saying how awesome we are.

  2. Aoife says:

    I support her for highlighting the different standards to which men and women are held, but it doesn’t always have to lead to conclusion that women should copy men to close the gap. Not a huge fan of bragging in general.

    • Esmom says:

      Yeah, I don’t know about that either. Actually I do think she should brag about being the highest paid show runner, that is most definitely worthy. I tend to think if we pick what to tout carefully and judiciously, it has more impact. Bragging about anything and everything especially if it’s not true, like Trump, is not the way to go, imo.

      • LWT00 says:

        In the film industry, you have to tell people about yourself and what you’re doing to get noticed. Nobody is out to discover anybody. And once you have some recognition, you have to keep telling people what you’re doing so when you a) have a flop, or b) don’t work for a few years, or c) take a risk on something new, they remember you have some cred behind you.

  3. Steff says:

    I can’t recommend her book enough. Very inspiring and she comes off relatable.

  4. Jess says:

    She is awesome. And so right!

    • Ronaldinhio says:

      Agreed. Even this article made me think again about what I do and why many women in my profession never advance as they should. We think doing something brilliantly is enough. It isn’t. You also have to be able to put your stuff aside and tell others.
      Where ?I work men always get the top jobs. Their work is often good but not stellar whilst the women they come up against are at times brilliant.
      We need to learn and teach our daughters how to accurately highlight over and over again why they’re worth it

  5. chinoiserie says:

    I don’t know, I dont recall seeing successful actors saying they are the highest paid in their fields. Maybe this is just a topic that does not really need to be mentioned by either men or women in any case unless it’s relevat to some other topic

  6. Angie says:

    She is so right. I am the fourth highest paid owner in my large law firm of 50 plus owners after three senior guys. Yet every new lawyer who starts treats me like a junior partner. Why? Because I’m a woman, i maintain an unassuming air and God forbid i be assumed to be a heavy hitter.

    • Trashaddict says:

      If I had a $ for every newbie I’ve worked with who confused “low key” with thinking I had low expectations, LOL.

  7. Bubble bee says:

    I honestly feel like women have to hide in order to succeed. People don’t generally like a woman who brags about her accomplishments. Most of the time when I see an article about a woman talking about her achievements most of the commentors seem to trip over themselves to discredit her. I honestly think a successful win who knows her power and owns it is something very scary to a lot of people.

  8. Miss M says:

    She is awesome. But her shows are getting awful…

    • Carmen says:

      Tell me about it. After the way she destroyed “Scandal” I will never watch her shows again. I don’t believe she left ABC voluntarily. I think she was sh*tcanned. Three flops in a row didn’t look very well on her resume.

  9. Silent Star says:

    I can relate to her. I am also awesome, and I am fortunate to work worth awesome women.