Hollywood is a powerful medium of portraying people in different environments. Yet, reality isn’t accurately portrayed according to the statistics of its representation. In 2013, women represented only thirty percent characters on the top-grossing films, and among that only fifteen percent were lead roles (Center for the Study of Women in Television and Film).
Women are actively breaking through these barriers and trying to accurately portray women in reality. One of the biggest influences in Hollywood is Shonda Rhimes.
Who is Shonda Rhimes? Well, let me tell you. Shonda Rhimes is a screenwriter, director, and producer for our current favorite primetime shows (like How To Get Away with Murder and Scandal) to our all-time classics like Grey’s Anatomy and The Princess Diaries 2.
Rhimes first began writing at Dartmouth where she enrolled in the Writing for Screen and Television program. From the beginning, Rhimes focused on centering women in her writing. Her first screenplay was “Human Seeking Same,” which was about an older black woman and dealing with love in her lie.
Shonda Rhimes’ first successes were one the big screen. She landed the screenwriter title for Britney Spears’ “Crossroads” movie, then Anne Hathaway’s “Princess Diaries 2,” which both targeted young teen audiences about growing up being a teenage girl.
Rhimes’ hard work and new ideas for Hollywood has been awarded through many awards and recognition. According to Biography.com, she is the first African-American woman to to create and executive-produce a Top 10 network series. Rhimes was also crowned forty third on TIME’s list of 100 Most Influential People in the World in 2007. According to her interview with Time, Shondra is able to, “create an assemblage of worldly foibles and aspirations. She understands that every dream is valuable and every identity deserves inspection through the looking glass of television…Shonda allows for more people than ever before to see themselves and feel as though the world sees them too.”
What’s evident in Rhimes’ writing and success is the inclusion of everyone. She writes stories of all identities to be amplified to viewers across America. In Grey’s Anatomy, Chandra Wilson plays head chief surgeon of a hospital, the sexually identity of Connor Walsh in How To Get Away with Murder is an identity that he owns openly while becoming a successful lawyer, and Viola Davis’ character on How to Get Away with Murder has both a powerful and emotional impact on television as she takes her wig and makeup off while on screen. Rhimes knows how to write an awesome plot while adding the identities of everyone in America–an equation that most Hollywood screenwriters seem to not grasp well.
Ohio University Women’s Center Volunteer