Shonda Rhimes is a television producer, screenwriter, and the creator of Shondaland Productions. Rhimes created and became the lead writer and executive producer of the long-running ABC television medical drama Grey’s Anatomy. She has also served as an executive producer on Grey’s Anatomy spin-off Private Practice, Scandal, Off the Map, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Catch.
According to Forbes, Grey’s Anatomy has earned $2 billion for ABC’s parent company, Disney. In 2017, she abandoned traditional television in favor of Netflix, a decision that many observers hailed as “unprecedented.”
According to Forbes, she inked a five-year deal with the streaming giant worth at least $100 million, which she will renew in 2021. After joining Netflix, she created blockbuster shows such as “Bridgerton” and its spin-off, “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story,” as well as “Inventing Anna.”
With a net worth of $250 million, the 53-year-old mother of three debuted on Forbes’ list of self-made richest women.
Rhimes was born in Chicago, Illinois, and attended Dartmouth College, where she studied in English and film studies and graduated with honors in 1991. She dedicated more time to producing and performing in student performances, while also writing fiction and essays for the college newspaper.
She traveled to San Francisco and worked in advertising before relocating to Los Angeles to study screenwriting at the University of Southern California and get a Master of Fine Arts from the School of Cinematic Arts.
While in school, Rhimes interned with Debra Martin Chase and worked at Denzel Washington’s company, Mundy Lane Entertainment. After graduation, she worked as a research director on the documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (1995), which won the Peabody Award in 1995.
In 1998, she directed the short film Blossoms and Veils, starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jeffrey Wright, before being hired to co-write the HBO feature Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, starring Halle Berry. It received various accolades.
Rhimes scripted Britney Spears’ debut film Crossroads in 2001 and worked on the sequel to Disney’s hit film The Princess Diaries (2001). She wrote her first TV pilot for ABC about teenage female war correspondents, but the network rejected it.
Grey’s Anatomy premiered as a mid-season replacement on ABC in 2005 and has been running ever since. In 2007, she created the spin-off series Private Practice, the conclusion of which aired in 2013.
She has since created numerous pilots and produced numerous programs for ABC. In 2017, she signed a multi-year development partnership with Netflix that will see all of her future productions become Netflix Original shows. Netflix had already obtained the streaming rights to previous episodes of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal in the United States.
Rhimes got an honorary degree from her alma institution, Dartmouth College, in 2014, and her first book, a memoir titled Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person, was published in 2015. In 2016, she also created a MasterClass series of online screenwriting lessons.
Shonda Rhimes has won numerous honors, including a Golden Globe and three Emmy nominations. Many black folks who aspire to work in television production look up to her.