During an appearance on 'Sunday Sitdown with Willie Geist,' Rhimes spoke about her fascination with the titular characters in her TV shows and how motherhood played a crucial role in her success.
Shonda Rhimes has been a force to be reckoned with in television for the past decade with acclaimed shows of the likes of "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder." She has developed shows in which Black women have leading roles and equal weight is given to each character.
But how does the award-winning screenwriter do it all and still manage to blow the minds of her audience? In a May 7 episode of "Sunday Sitdown with Willie Geist," Rhimes opened up about her fascination with the titular characters in her TV shows and how motherhood proved to be the turning point in her successful TV career, reports TODAY.
"At first, I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to be a lawyer. I wanted to work in politics, all of those things, which I finally realized, 'No. I don’t want to do any of those things. I just want to write about them,'" she told Geist. "Because it is much more fun to build the world yourself. And so I did."
When Rhimes created "Grey's Anatomy"—which is about to return for its 20th season—in 2005, the show creator could not foresee how long it would last. "I wrote a medical show that’s not what other people were thinking of as being, like, correct medical shows," she told Geist. "It didn’t take it too seriously. And it was not about the patients. It was about how the doctors felt about the patients. It was about their lives."
My #SundayTODAY conversation with @ShondaRhimes on her rise to become one of the most powerful creative forces in Hollywood, from “Grey’s Anatomy” to her new series “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story.” See you Sunday on @NBC! ☀️ pic.twitter.com/1R1FjgebW4— Willie Geist (@WillieGeist) May 5, 2023
Before she became a mother, Rhimes was only recognized for her screenplays in "Crossroads" and "The Princess Diaries 2" as she was yet to venture into creating TV shows. However, experiencing motherhood turned out to be a major turning point in her career. The mother-of-three explained: "I wasn’t going anywhere. And I was watching a lot more television. And I realized, 'This is where all the character development is happening.'"
Rhimes wanted to portray women on television as she knew them in the real world. "I didn’t see any women who were fully rounded and three dimensional, who got to be selfish, who got to be powerful, who got to be greedy, who got to be loving, in the same way, that you see male characters doing it," Rhimes said. "And to me, I just wanted to see people who were like the people I knew."
With sheer perseverance and vision, Rhimes soon took Hollywood by storm and signed an exclusive, multi-year development deal with Netflix worth $100 million in 2017. Today, she is known for hit shows like "Bridgerton," "Inventing Anna" and "Queen Charlotte." Rhimes recently also went viral on social media for her honest answer to this question: "Shonda, how do you do it all?"
In a resurfaced video of her Dartmouth College commencement speech that was shared on the @femalequotient Instagram page, Rhimes is seen getting candid about how she balances work and life. "The answer is this: I don't," Rhimes stated. "Whenever you see me somewhere succeeding in one area of my life, that almost certainly means I am failing in another area of my life."
"If I am killing it on a Scandal script for work, I am missing bath and story time at home. If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh’s last scene ever being filmed at 'Grey’s Anatomy.' If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other,” she shared. Being a mother is laborious, and juggling work and children is more challenging. Thankfully, mothers today have someone as strong as Rhimes to look to for inspiration and motivation.