Shonda Rhimes proved long ago that she is a force to reckon with. The growing influence she has had in television has not gone unrecognized and has resulted in a major boost for ABC’s Thursday night network ratings. The mastermind behind shows like “Scandal,” “Grey’s Anatomy” and “How To Get Away With Murder” has increased onscreen representation of diverse roles that were once overlooked and in doing so, has raised further awareness on issues related to LGBT, women and people of colour particularly as central characters to her stories.
Shonda Rhimes received the Ally for Equality Award at the Human Rights Campaign’s Saturday Gala and used her time onstage to talk about feeling alone and how important it is for TV to be a place people can look to when they’re feeling alone.
“You should get to turn on the TV and see your tribe,” the Rhimes said. “And your tribe can be any kind of person, any one you identify with, anyone who feels like you, who feels like home, who feels like truth.”
Rhimes’ ABC shows have become synonymous with diverse TV in the past years: Grey’s Anatomy broke ground in 2008 when Callie, a main character, began sleeping with a woman. She went on to marry Arizona, and their relationship quickly became one central to the show, besides that the show has multiple strong women as the protagonists representing Asian, Hispanic and of course Black women. Scandal with leading lady Kerry Washington has Cyrus, the president’s chief of staff who is openly gay and in How to Get Away with Murder the LGBT crowd is represented by young hot Connor while Viola Davis plays the ever complex lead Annalise Keating.
Yes there’s an undeniable rarity of seeing such characters represented on TV however Rhimes doesn’t see these choices as diverse. “I really hate the word ‘diversity.’ It suggests something other,” she said. “As if there is something unusual about telling stories involving women and people of colour and LGBTQ characters on TV. I have a different word: normalizing. I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks.”
“The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them,” she said. “And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because, perhaps then, they will learn from them. Perhaps then, they will not isolate them.”
All hail Shonda Rhimes and may her normalizing movement continue to grow strong, it’s about time the media caught up with what the real world looks like. Read the whole speech over at Medium.by