By: Victor Trammell
Photo credits: Rex/Shutterstock
The so-called “glass ceiling” narrative does not apply to the story of a television writer-turned-show runner who also happens to be black.
Shonda Rhimes (pictured) is not playing anybody’s victim or identifying oppression in America as something that prevented her from conquering the television universe. Rhimes is what many would consider to be a double whammy in this nation; being a woman and being black.
When one looks at the odds pertaining to many issues, including unemployment among people released from jail or prison, black women always get the shortest end of the stick. But Rhimes is a person who learned the ropes in an industry that is cutthroat in nature and reliant on results.
The 48-year-old show business boss is best known for creating Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal. All of those television shows feature quality acting, which reflects well-written scripts. These shows are also highly-watched and that is even more important to production studio executives.
Rhimes oversees the process that goes into these reproducible results from top to bottom. However, it is very plausible to surmise that Rhimes has been plaintively reminded of her gender and race from the treatment she has received on such a journey. But she is not through trouncing the odds yet.
According to Variety Magazine, Rhimes just scored a staggering deal with Netflix to leave ABC Studios, a place where she built her production company Shondaland for 15 years. Though an exact figure has not been confirmed as of yet, credible whispers among industry insiders have conjured up a nine-figure contract sum.
Regardless of the anonymity of her major new deal, it is safe to say that Rhimes proclaimed the truth recently during a speech at ELLE Magazine’s “Women in Hollywood” event. “I will not hide. I am going to brag. I am the highest-paid showrunner in television,” Rhimes said in her proclamation.
Rhimes may have called her statement a brag but to some, that is an act of arrogance. Nonetheless, what Rhimes stated was not a lie or a fraudulent propping up of herself. The whole truth from who might not be likable always trumps grandiosity from who always needs to be liked. Rhimes gets that and she is in an industry where it is law.
American black women in all walks of life could learn a thing or two, maybe even three from their emancipated sister. Rhimes wielded the sword of relentlessness to shatter sexism and racism in her own rise to power. The meek and modest need not apply for the job. A new blueprint is being exhibited.
The genteel, Oprah Winfrey-style black female television maven known for her antediluvian maid roles is fading. The next Rhimes will have to kick ass and take names, not prisoners. Welcome to Shondaland.