For those of you who follow television, ABC’s Shonda Rhimes is the latest craze. #ThankGodItsThursday hashtags have become the norm, as the no-nonsense powerhouse has virtually commandeered an entire evening of prime-time television for herself. The Rhimes-produced new series ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ debuted September 25, following Grey’s Anatomy, the popular hospital drama and Scandal the fast-paced political thriller, giving ShondaLand an unprecedented three-hour prime-time block on the network.
Whether you appreciate Ms. Rhimes’ work or not – one thing is certain – the woman has talent! Shonda has created a niche for herself chalking up a number of industry awards in the process.
What I like about her story is that it’s not the proverbial ‘rags to riches’, but one which underscores the need for determination, self-belief and good old fashioned hard work. You see, Ms. Rhimes is middle class and Ivy-league-educated, but that alone didn’t take her to the top. Her elevation came through consistent hard word and self – belief.
Rhimes, who started the business in 1995, was at one stage an unemployed screenwriter in Hollywood. Like countless others, she was forced to do mundane day jobs to pay the bills. BUT, she never gave up trying nor believing in her herself. Several of her earlier projects reaped success and some failed miserably, but eventually her talent became evident and she was duly recognised for her insight and wit.
I believe that there are Shondas in all of us. We can all make our mark in whatever sphere of influence we have, if we only set our minds and will to the task.
Here’s some advice from Ms. Shondaland herself:
Have a PLAN
I remember saying, very almost jokingly, I’m going to take over the world through television, that’s my plan. And I said it to my agent, and I said it to my friends, and I said it to myself.” – “Oprah’s Next Chapter” interview.”
“You want to be a writer? A writer is someone who writes every day, so start writing. You don’t have a job? Get one. Any job. Don’t sit at home waiting for the magical opportunity. Who are you? Prince William? No. Get a job. Go to work. Do something until you can do something else.” – Dartmouth commencement speech
“You know what I wanted to be? I wanted to be Nobel Prize Winning Author Toni Morrison. That was my dream…Guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up… [Eventually I figured out that] I could dream about being Toni Morrison or I could do me. At film school, I discovered an entirely new way of telling stories. A way that suited me. A way that brought me joy. A way that flipped this switch in my brain and changed the way I saw the world. Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.” – Dartmouth Commencement Speech
“It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change. So ditch the dream and be a doer, not a dreamer… Dreamers often end up living in the basements of relatives, FYI.” Shonda Rhimes, Screenwriter, Director, Producer