Watch Shonda Rhimes’ Inspiring Speech About Getting Past the Glass Ceiling

The television maven credits the women in Hollywood who came before her for paving the way.
Dec 12, 2014·
TakePart fellow Jessica Dollin studied journalism at the University of Arizona. She has written for the Phoenix New Times and HerCampus.

When Shonda Rhimes’ publicist told her that The Hollywood Reporter would honor her for leading the way for women in the entertainment industry at its 23rd annual Women in Entertainment breakfast, she was perplexed. Rhimes admitted that this wasn’t an act of humility. She knows she’s fabulous, but she couldn’t help but ask herself, “Why?”

In a written response, THR said she got the award because she’s an African American woman who broke through the industry’s glass ceiling.

Gender inequality in Hollywood, both on and off the screen, is a prevalent issue. In the top 500 films from 2007–2012, only 30.8 percent of speaking characters were women; in 2013, 35 women were nominated for Oscars, compared with 140 men who received nominatations, according to the New York Film Academy.

Gender inequality in television is starting to improve. Four out of five Golden Globe nominees for best TV comedy series this year are female showrunners, according to Variety.

The all-around game changer is the creator, head writer, and executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder. In her acceptance speech, Rhimes credited her predecessors for cracking the glass ceiling so that it could eventually be shattered.

“Getting an award today because I’m a woman and an African American feels…I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin,” she said. “To get all Beyoncé about it, people: ‘I woke up like this.’ ”