This is, indeed, the age of Shonda. This week, the National Association of Broadcasters announced its decision to induct television show runner, director, screenwriter and executive producer Shonda Rhimes into its Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
The induction ceremony is set for 2015 in Las Vegas.
“Shonda Rhimes’ creative talent is undeniable, and is on display every Thursday night on ABC,” said NAB President and CEO Gordon Smith. “The characters and storylines she creates draw in viewers and keep them coming back for more. Her hit shows serve as Exhibit A on why broadcast television remains the most popular destination for scripted entertainment programming.”
The Golden Globe, Emmy award-winning creator of hit shows “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” and overseer of newcomer “How to Get Away with Murder” starring Viola Davis has been racking up top honors of late. Last year, President Barack Obama appointed her to board of the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, America’s National Cultural Center and the ratings for her shows have been consistently through the roof.
She has also won the following awards: 2007 Television Producer of the Year by the Producers Guild of America; 2006 Writers Guild Award for Best New Series; the 2007 Golden Globe Award for Outstanding Television Drama; the 2007 Lucy Award for Excellence in Television from Women in Film; and the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series from 2007-2011; 2013 AFI Award, Peabody Award; 2012 GLAAD Golden Gate Award, 2010 RAINN Hope Award and a 2009 GLSEN Respect Awards Honoree.
Rhimes has twice been included in TIME Magazine’s 100 list of the most influential people along with Fortune Magazine’s “50 Most Powerful Women in Business,” Variety’s “Power of Women” and Glamour Magazine’s “Women of the Year.”
More importantly, she is credited with adding sorely needed diversity to prime-time television that the viewers haven’t seen in decades and for it, she deservingly received, along with producing partner Betsy Beers, the 2014 Directors Guild of America’s prestigious Diversity Award. In Shondaland, Rhimes’ production company through which her shows are produced, there are a respectable number of African Americans holding key positions both on and off camera.
In a 2008 Entertainment Weekly online article titled, ”Why is TV So White?” the writers make mention of an “NAACP outcry” on the topic of the lack of diversity on network television. “The NAACP has taken notice: It will release a new study later this month titled ”Out of Focus, Out of Sync — Take 4,” which calls for diversity not only on screen but also behind the scenes, where decisions are made and story lines are hatched. ”1 out of every 3 persons in the United States is a minority,” reads the report, an advance excerpt of which was provided to EW. ”One could argue that a third of all those working in Hollywood should be a minority. However…their presence is not accurately represented on-air and for the most part, their stories are secondary or non-existent. Behind the camera, the challenges facing minorities have been even greater and traditionally more difficult to overcome…. It is unconscionable and unacceptable that there is no new African American sitcom, or family drama for that matter, currently in the fall line up on any of the major broadcast networks.” Vicangelo Bulluck, executive director of the NAACP’s Hollywood bureau, says plainly, ”The trend definitely seems to be going in the wrong direction.”
Not the case in Shondaland. All three of her shows feature actors of color in prominent positions in the stories to reflect what America actually looks like. Maybe the television network powers that be could take a page from her book on inclusion.