Rhimes on the cover of Ms. in 2015
January 13, 1970
Shonda Lynn Rhimes (born January 13, 1970) is an American television producer, screenwriter, and author. She is best known as the showrunner—creator, head writer, and executive producer—of the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy , its spin-off Private Practice , and the political thriller series Scandal . Rhimes has also served as the executive producer of the ABC television series Off the Map , How to Get Away with Murder , The Catch , and Station 19 .
In 2007, Rhimes was named one of TIME magazine's 100 People Who Help Shape the World.In 2015, she published her first book, a memoir, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person. In 2017, Netflix said that it had entered into a multi-year development deal with Rhimes, by which all of her future productions will be Netflix Original series. Netflix had already purchased the streaming rights to past episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.
Rhimes was born in Chicago, Illinois, as the youngest of six children of Vera P. (Cain), a college professor, and Ilee Rhimes, Jr., a university administrator.Her mother attended college while raising their six children and earned a PhD in educational administration in 1991. Her father, who holds an MBA, became chief information officer (CIO) at the University of Southern California, serving until 2013.
Rhimes lived in Park Forest South (now University Park, Illinois), with her two older brothers and three older sisters. She has said she exhibited an early affinity for storytelling.While in high school, she served as a hospital volunteer, which inspired an interest in hospital environments.
Rhimes attended Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. At Dartmouth College, she majored in English and film studies and earned her bachelor's degree in 1991.At Dartmouth, she joined the Black Underground Theater Association. She divided her time between directing and performing in student productions, and writing fiction.
She also wrote for the college newspaper.After college, she relocated to San Francisco with an older sibling and worked in advertising at McCann Erickson. She subsequently moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and study screenwriting. Ranked at the top of her USC class, Rhimes earned the Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship. She obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
While at USC, Rhimes was hired as an intern by Debra Martin Chase. Rhimes credits her early success, in part, to mentors such as this prominent African-American producer, and she worked at Denzel Washington's company, Mundy Lane Entertainment.Chase served as a mentor to Rhimes: they worked together on The Princess Diaries 2 .
Rhimes adopted her first daughter in June 2002 and adopted another girl in February 2012.In September 2013, Rhimes welcomed her third daughter via gestational surrogacy.
In 2014, Rhimes gave a commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, where she received an honorary doctorate.
In September 2015, Rhimes revealed she had lost 117 pounds via exercise and dieting.
After graduation, Rhimes was an unemployed scriptwriter in Hollywood.To make ends meet, Rhimes worked at a variety of day jobs, including as an office administrator, and then a counselor at a job center that taught job skills to mentally ill and homeless people. During this period, Rhimes worked as research director on the documentary, Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (1995), which won the 1995 Peabody Award. In 1998 Rhimes made a short film, Blossoms and Veils, starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jeffrey Wright, which is her only credit as a film director. New Line Cinema purchased a feature script of hers. Rhimes received an assignment to co-write the HBO movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999). It earned numerous awards for its star, Halle Berry.
In 2001, Rhimes wrote Crossroads , the debut film of pop singer Britney Spears.Despite being panned by critics, the film grossed more than $60 million worldwide.
Rhimes next worked on writing Disney's sequel to its popular movie, The Princess Diaries (2001). Although The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) did not score as well at the box office, Rhimes later said that she treasured the experience, if only for the opportunity to work with its star, Julie Andrews.In 2003, Rhimes wrote her first TV pilot for ABC, about young female war correspondents, but the network turned it down.
Rhimes is the creator and currently executive producer and head writer of Grey's Anatomy . The series debuted as a mid-season replacement on March 27, 2005. The series features the surgical staff at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital (later to be named Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital), in Seattle, Washington. The series features an ensemble cast with Ellen Pompeo serving as titular character Meredith Grey, who provides narration for a majority of the series' episodes. On May 16, 2006, ABC announced plans to relocate Grey's Anatomy from Sunday evenings to Thursdays to anchor the network's Thursday evening programming,by airing Thursdays at 9 p.m. As of 2020, the series continues.
In 2007, Rhimes created and produced the Grey's Anatomy spin-off series Private Practice , which debuted September 26, 2007, on ABC. The show chronicled the life of Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) as she left Seattle Grace Hospital for Los Angeles to join a private practice. The series also featured an ensemble cast, including Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman, Audra McDonald and Taye Diggs among others. The first season was shortened because of a writers' strike; it has nine episodes. In May 2012, ABC picked up Private Practice for the 2012–13 television season with 13 episodes. The series finale was aired January 22, 2013.
In 2010, Rhimes created a new pilot for ABC called Inside the Box, a female-centric ensemble drama set in a Washington, D.C. network news bureau. The lead character was Catherine, an ambitious female news producer who, with her colleagues, pursued "the story" at all costs while juggling their personal animosities and crises of conscience.It was not picked up by the network.
In 2011, Rhimes served as executive producer for the medical drama, Off the Map , which was created by Grey's Anatomy writer, Jenna Bans. It focused on a group of doctors who practice medicine at a remote clinic in the Amazon jungle.The series was officially cancelled by the ABC network on May 13, 2011.
In May 2011, ABC ordered Rhimes' pilot script Scandal to series. Kerry Washington stars as Olivia Pope, a political crisis management expert. The character is partially based on former Bush administration press aide Judy Smith.The series debut aired on April 5, 2012.
In 2012, Rhimes developed a pilot for a period drama, Gilded Lilys, but it was not picked up to series.
In December 2013, ABC ordered a pilot for a new Rhimes series, How to Get Away with Murder .Actress Viola Davis joined the cast as the lead character in February 2014. It was officially picked up to series on May 8, 2014.
In March 2016, ABC premiered The Catch , a comedy-drama led by Rhimes based on a treatment by British author Kate Atkinson. It starred Mireille Enos and Peter Krause.Later that month, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey's Anatomy were respectively picked up for their sixth, third and 13th seasons. The following year, it was announced that Scandal would conclude after its upcoming seventh season, while The Catch was cancelled after its second.
On August 14, 2017, Netflix announced that it had entered into an exclusive multi-year development deal with Rhimes, under which all of her future productions will be Netflix Original series. The service already had purchased U.S. streaming rights to past episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Chief content officer Ted Sarandos described Rhimes as being a "true Netflixer at heart", since "she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience".
Of the deal, Rhimes said that
[Sarandos] understood what I was looking for — the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix's singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.
The deal was considered to be a coup for Netflix due to Rhimes' prominence at ABC; it was also considered to be a counter toward the effort by Disney, ABC's parent company, to reduce the availability of their content on Netflix in favor of a planned subscription streaming service of their own.
In June 2018, Netflix announced that the first project under the deal will be Inventing Anna , an adaptation of the New York magazine story How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People, originally written by Jessica Pressler based on the real-life story of the controversial society fraud Anna Delvey.As of October 2020 she was working on more than 12 projects for Netflix, including the period drama Bridgerton .
Shondaland is the name of Rhimes's production company.Shondaland and its logo also refer to the shows Rhimes has produced and to Rhimes herself. Shows included in Shondaland are:
|1995||Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream||No||Yes||No||No|
|1998||Blossoms and Veils||No||Yes||Yes||No|
|1999||Introducing Dorothy Dandridge||No||No||Yes||No|
|2004||The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement||No||No||Yes||No|
|2009||Inside the Box||No||No||No||Yes|
|2009||Seattle Grace: On Call||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|2009||Seattle Grace: Message of Hope||Yes||No||No||Yes|
|2011||Off the Map||No||No||No||Yes|
|2014–2020||How to Get Away with Murder||No||No||No||Yes|
|2018–2019||For the People||No||No||No||Yes|
|TBA||Notes on Love||TBA||TBA||Yes||Yes|
Shonda Rhimes has won a Golden Globe award and was nominated for three Emmy Awards. She has also won awards from the Writer's Guild of America, Producer's Guild of America, and Director's Guild of America. Below is a more complete list.
|2011||Best Continuing Series||Grey's Anatomy||Nominated|
|2005||Best Screenplay, Adapted or Original||The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement||Nominated|
|2014||DGA Diversity Award||Shonda Rhimes||Won|
|2012||Golden Gate Award||Shonda Rhimes||Won|
|2006||Outstanding Drama Series||Grey's Anatomy||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series||Nominated|
|2007||Outstanding Drama Series||Nominated|
|2006||Outstanding Drama Series||Grey's Anatomy||Won|
|2015||Entertainer of the Year||Shonda Rhimes||Nominated|
|2005||Television Series - Drama||Grey's Anatomy||Nominated|
|2006||Television Series - Drama||Won|
|2007||Television Series - Drama||Nominated|
|2005||New Series||Grey's Anatomy||Won|
|2015||Laurel Award for TV Writing Achievement||Shonda Rhimes||Won|
Liza Rebecca Weil is an American actress. She is best known for her starring role as Paris Geller in the WB/CW comedy-drama series Gilmore Girls (2000–2007) and its Netflix revival series Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life (2016). She is also known for her roles as White House aide Amanda Tanner in the ABC political drama series Scandal (2012) and as attorney Bonnie Winterbottom in the ABC legal drama series How to Get Away with Murder (2014–20).
Thomas Verica is an American actor, television director, and producer, best known for his role as Jack Pryor in the NBC drama American Dreams (2002-2005). As director, he is known for Shonda Rhimes' dramas. From 2012 to 2018, Verica served as co-executive producer of Scandal, and in 2014 he returned to acting in How to Get Away with Murder.
Grey's Anatomy is an American medical drama television series that premiered on March 27, 2005, on the American Broadcasting Company (ABC) as a mid-season replacement. The fictional series focuses on the lives of surgical interns, residents, and attendings as they develop into seasoned doctors while balancing personal and professional relationships. The title is an allusion to Gray's Anatomy, a classic human anatomy textbook first published in 1858 in London and written by Henry Gray. Shonda Rhimes developed the pilot and continues to write for the series. She is also one of the executive producers alongside Betsy Beers, Mark Gordon, Krista Vernoff, Rob Corn, Mark Wilding, and Allan Heinberg, and recently, Ellen Pompeo. Although the series is set in Seattle, it is filmed primarily in Los Angeles, California.
Ellen Kathleen Pompeo is an American actress and producer. One of the world's highest paid actors since 2017, she has made multiple appearances on the Forbes’ year-end lists. Her accolades include a Screen Actors Guild Award, a Special Achievement in Entertaining award by the National Italian American Foundation, and a nomination for a Golden Globe Award.
Debra Mooney is an American character actress, best known for her role as Edna Harper on The WB drama series Everwood (2002-06). Mooney also known for her recurring roles in Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and The Originals.
Krista Vernoff is an American television screenwriter, showrunner, executive producer and director. She is best known for running the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy and its spin-off Station 19 (2019–present). She has also served as executive producer and writer for the US version of Shameless. Other works as producer-writer for television include Charmed and Wonderfalls.
Darby Leigh Stanchfield is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Abby Whelan in the ABC political drama series Scandal (2012–2018). Stanchfield is also known for roles as April Green in the CBS post-apocalyptic drama series Jericho (2006–07), and as Helen Bishop in the AMC period drama series Mad Men (2007–08). In 2020, she began starring as Nina Locke in the Netflix fantasy horror series Locke & Key.
Jenna Bans is an American screenwriter. Bans is a producer and writer on Grey's Anatomy, and is the creator and the co-producer of Off the Map, a series which premiered on ABC in January 2011, and was cancelled on May 13, 2011. From 2012 to 2014, she was the regular writer and co-executive producer on another Shonda Rhimes created drama, Scandal, on ABC.
Chris Van Dusen is an American television producer and screenwriter. He is the creator, executive producer and showrunner of the television series Bridgerton.
Jerrika Delayne Hinton is an American actress, best known for her role as Stephanie Edwards in the ABC medical drama series Grey's Anatomy.
Scandal is an American political thriller television series starring Kerry Washington. Created by Shonda Rhimes, it aired on ABC from April 5, 2012, until April 19, 2018, for 124 episodes over seven seasons. Kerry Washington's character, Olivia Pope, is partially based on former George H.W. Bush administration press aide Judy Smith, who serves as a co-executive producer.
Kelly J. McCreary is an American actress, best known for her role on the ABC drama series Grey's Anatomy as Dr. Maggie Pierce, the half-sister of series protagonist Meredith Grey. She joined the series as a guest at the end of the tenth season, becoming a series regular in the eleventh season. She has reprised her role on the spin-off series Station 19.
How to Get Away with Murder is an American legal thriller television series that premiered on ABC on September 25, 2014, and concluded on May 14, 2020. The series was created by Peter Nowalk, and produced by Shonda Rhimes and ABC Studios. The series aired on ABC as part of a night of programming, all under Rhimes's Shondaland production company.
Peter Nowalk is an American television writer and producer.
Shondaland is an American television production company founded by television writer/producer Shonda Rhimes. She founded it to be one of the production companies of her first series Grey's Anatomy in 2005. It has since gone on to produce Rhimes's other creations, Grey's spinoff Private Practice and the widely popular political drama Scandal, and her other productions—the short-lived Off the Map, the Viola Davis-starring legal thriller How to Get Away with Murder, and the crime thriller The Catch—all of which are co-produced with ABC Studios and air on ABC. As of 2017, it has a partnership affiliation with Netflix, and before that Disney-ABC.
The Catch is an American comedy-drama television series that aired on ABC from March 24, 2016 to May 11, 2017. It stars Mireille Enos and Peter Krause, was created by Jennifer Schuur, Kate Atkinson, and Helen Gregory, and developed by Allan Heinberg, and was executive produced by Shondaland's Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers. Julie Anne Robinson also served as an executive producer and directed the pilot episode. The series premiered on May 12, 2016 and was renewed for a second season. The second season premiered on March 9, 2017. On May 11, 2017, ABC cancelled the series after two seasons due to low ratings.
"Heavy Is the Head" is the season premiere of the fifth season of the American political thriller television series Scandal, and the 70th episode overall. It aired on September 24, 2015 on American Broadcasting Company (ABC) in the United States. The episode was written by showrunner Shonda Rhimes and directed by executive producer Tom Verica. The episode focuses on the newly mended relationship with Olivia and Fitz, in addition to the scandal in which the Princess of Caledonia is killed and Olivia is hired to make sure the Royal family's private life stays private.
Still Star-Crossed is an American period drama television series created by Heather Mitchell and based on the book of the same name by Melinda Taub. The series is produced by Shonda Rhimes's Shondaland and ABC Studios, and aired on ABC during the 2016–17 television season. The series premiered on May 29, 2017. ABC canceled the show after one season in June 2017.
Station 19 is an American action-drama television series created by Stacy McKee for ABC that premiered on March 22, 2018. It is the second spin-off of Grey's Anatomy. Set in Seattle, the series focuses on the lives of the men and women at Seattle Fire Station 19. It stars Jaina Lee Ortiz, Jason George, Grey Damon, Barrett Doss, Alberto Frezza, Jay Hayden, Okieriete Onaodowan, Danielle Savre, Boris Kodjoe, Stefania Spampinato and Miguel Sandoval.
Inventing Anna is an upcoming American drama streaming television miniseries created and produced by Shonda Rhimes, based on the New York Magazine article "How Anna Delvey Tricked New York’s Party People" by Jessica Pressler. The series is set to premiere on Netflix.
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