Shonda Rhimes has had another epic year in entertainment, and to celebrate her numerous accomplishments, the producer of two of the most dynamic shows on television was feted with the Sherry Lansing Award for leadership at The Hollywood Reporter’s Women in Entertainment Breakfast on Wednesday.
Rhimes, graciously accepted the honor but also made it clear that she merely followed in the footsteps of her hardworking predecessors. Her speech was funneled with recognition for those who made her entrée into the industry possible. “I know this isn’t an award because I’m a woman or because I’m African-American. I know that it’s really about breaking the glass ceiling that exists in the face of being a woman and being black in the very male, very white town.” “But I haven’t broken through the glass ceiling.”
This moment right here, me standing up here all brown with my boobs and my Thursday night of network television full of women of color, competitive women, strong women, women who own their bodies and whose lives revolve around their work instead of their men, women who are big dogs, that could only be happening right now.
Think about it.
Look around this room. It’s filled with women of all colors in Hollywood who are executives and heads of studios and VPs and show creators and directors. There are a lot of women in Hollywood in this room who have the game-changing ability to say yes or no to something.
15 years ago, that would not have been as true.
Rhimes went on to give props to the women who “chipped away” in an effort to make room for people coming up behind them. She acknowledged that she was lucky enough to be ready to assume her position when her time arrived. “I picked my spot in the glass and called it my target. And I ran. And when I hit finally that ceiling, it just exploded into dust. Like that. My sisters who went before me had already handled it. No cuts. No bruises. No bleeding. Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by other woman’s footprints. I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot.”
Rhimes may have gone out of her way to share the credit – but she did end up expressing her joy as the recipient of multi-dimensional award, “This is a trophy for participation, and I am beyond honored and proud to receive it because this was a group effort. I want to thank all the women in this room and I want to thank all the women who never made it to this room.” “And thank you to all the women who will hopefully fill a room 100 times this size when we are all gone. You are all an inspiration.”