Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes at the 75th Annual Peabody Awards (cropped).jpg
At the 75th Annual Peabody Awards, 2016
Shonda Lynn Rhimes

(1970-01-13) January 13, 1970 (age 53)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater
  • Television screenwriter
  • producer
Years active1995–present

Shonda Lynn Rhimes[1] (born January 13, 1970)[2] is an American television screenwriter, producer, and author. She is best known as the showrunner—creator, head writer, and executive producer—of the television medical drama Grey's Anatomy, its spin-off Private Practice, and the political thriller series Scandal. Rhimes has also served as the executive producer of the ABC television series Off the Map, How to Get Away with Murder, The Catch, and Grey's spin-off Station 19.[3]

In 2007, 2013 and 2021, Rhimes was named by Time on the Time 100, their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[4][5] In 2015, she published her first book, a memoir, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person. In 2017, Netflix said that it had entered into a multi-year development deal with Rhimes, by which all of her future productions will be Netflix Original series.[6] Netflix had already purchased the streaming rights to past episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal.[7]

Early life and education

Rhimes was born in Chicago, Illinois, as the youngest of six children of Vera P. (née Cain), a college professor, and Ilee Rhimes, Jr., a university administrator.[8][9] Her mother attended college while raising their six children and earned a PhD in educational administration in 1991. Her father, who holds an MBA, became chief information officer (CIO) at the University of Southern California, serving until 2013.[10]

Rhimes lived in Park Forest South (now University Park, Illinois), with her two older brothers and three older sisters. She has said she exhibited an early affinity for storytelling.[11] While in high school, she served as a hospital volunteer, which inspired an interest in hospital environments.[12]

Rhimes attended Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois. At Dartmouth College, she majored in English and film studies and earned her bachelor's degree in 1991.[13][14] At Dartmouth, she joined the Black Underground Theater Association. She divided her time between directing and performing in student productions, and writing fiction.[13]

She also wrote for the college newspaper.[15] After college, she relocated to San Francisco with an older sibling and worked in advertising at McCann Erickson.[16] She subsequently moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and study screenwriting.[11] Ranked at the top of her USC class, Rhimes earned the Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship.[16] She obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

While at USC, Rhimes was hired as an intern by Debra Martin Chase. Rhimes credits her early success, in part, to mentors such as Chase, a prominent African-American producer. She also worked at Denzel Washington's company, Mundy Lane Entertainment.[17] Chase served as a mentor to Rhimes: they worked together on The Princess Diaries 2.


Career beginnings: 1995–2004

After graduation, Rhimes was an unemployed scriptwriter in Hollywood.[11] To make ends meet, Rhimes worked at a variety of day jobs, including as an office administrator and then a counselor at a job center that taught job skills to people with housing instability and mental illness. During this period, Rhimes worked as research director on the documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (1995), which won the 1995 Peabody Award.[11][16] In 1998 Rhimes made a short film, Blossoms and Veils, starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jeffrey Wright, which is her only credit as a film director.[11] New Line Cinema purchased a feature script of hers. Rhimes received an assignment to co-write the HBO movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999). It earned numerous awards for its star, Halle Berry.[11][16]

In 2001, Rhimes wrote Crossroads, the debut film of pop singer Britney Spears.[18] Despite being panned by critics, the film grossed more than $60 million worldwide.[19][20]

Rhimes next worked on writing Disney's sequel to its popular movie The Princess Diaries (2001). Although The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) did not score as well at the box office, Rhimes later said that she treasured the experience, if only for the opportunity to work with its star, Julie Andrews.[11] In 2003, Rhimes wrote her first TV pilot for ABC about young female war correspondents, but the network turned it down.[16][17]

Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and other projects with ABC

Rhimes is the creator and currently executive producer and head writer of Grey's Anatomy. The series debuted as a mid-season replacement on March 27, 2005. The series features the surgical staff at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital (later to be named Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital), in Seattle, Washington. The series features an ensemble cast with Ellen Pompeo serving as titular character Meredith Grey, who provides narration for a majority of the series' episodes.[21]

In 2007, Rhimes created and produced the Grey's Anatomy spin-off series Private Practice, which debuted September 26, 2007, on ABC. The show chronicled the life of Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) as she left Seattle Grace Hospital for Los Angeles to join a private practice. The series also featured an ensemble cast, including Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman, Audra McDonald and Taye Diggs among others. The first season was shortened because of a writers' strike; it has nine episodes. In May 2012, ABC picked up Private Practice for the 2012–13 television season with 13 episodes. The series finale was aired January 22, 2013.[22]

In 2010, Rhimes created a new pilot for ABC called Inside the Box, a female-centric ensemble drama set in a Washington, D.C. network news bureau. The lead character was Catherine, an ambitious female news producer who, with her colleagues, pursued "the story" at all costs while juggling their personal animosities and crises of conscience.[23] It was not picked up by the network.[24]

In 2011, Rhimes served as executive producer for the medical drama, Off the Map, which was created by Grey's Anatomy writer, Jenna Bans. It focused on a group of doctors who practice medicine at a remote clinic in the Amazon jungle.[25] The series was officially cancelled by the ABC network on May 13, 2011.[26]

In May 2011, ABC ordered Rhimes' pilot script Scandal to series. Kerry Washington stars as Olivia Pope, a political crisis management expert. The character is partially based on former Bush administration press aide Judy Smith.[27][28] The series debut aired on April 5, 2012.[29]

In 2012, Rhimes developed a pilot for a period drama, Gilded Lilys, but it was not picked up to series.[30][31]

In December 2013, ABC ordered a pilot for a new Rhimes series, How to Get Away with Murder.[32] Actress Viola Davis joined the cast as the lead character in February 2014.[33] It was officially picked up to series on May 8, 2014.[34]

In March 2016, ABC premiered The Catch, a comedy-drama led by Rhimes based on a treatment by British author Kate Atkinson. It starred Mireille Enos and Peter Krause.[35] Later that month, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey's Anatomy were respectively picked up for their sixth, third and 13th seasons. The following year, it was announced that Scandal would conclude after its upcoming seventh season, while The Catch was cancelled after its second.[36]

Netflix deal

On August 14, 2017, Netflix announced that it had entered into an exclusive multi-year development deal with Rhimes, under which all of her future productions will be Netflix Original series. The service already had purchased U.S. streaming rights to past episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Chief content officer Ted Sarandos described Rhimes as being a "true Netflixer at heart" since "she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience".[36]

Of the deal, Rhimes said that

[Sarandos] understood what I was looking for—the opportunity to build a vibrant new storytelling home for writers with the unique creative freedom and instantaneous global reach provided by Netflix's singular sense of innovation. The future of Shondaland at Netflix has limitless possibilities.[36]

The deal was considered to be a coup for Netflix due to Rhimes' prominence at ABC; it was also considered to be a counter toward the effort by Disney, ABC's parent company, to reduce the availability of their content on Netflix in favor of a planned subscription streaming service of their own.[36]

As of October 2020 she was working on more than 12 projects for Netflix, including the period drama Bridgerton.[37]

Personal life

Rhimes adopted her first daughter in June 2002 and adopted another girl in February 2012.[38] In September 2013, Rhimes welcomed her third daughter via gestational surrogacy.[39]

In 2014, Rhimes gave a commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, where she received an honorary doctorate.[40]

In September 2015, Rhimes revealed she had lost 117 pounds (53 kg) via exercise and dieting.[41][42]


In April 2017, Rhimes joined the national board of Planned Parenthood.[43] Later that same year, Rhimes and Katie McGrath co-founded Time's Up, and both of them donated the funds to hire its first seven employees.[44]

In 2019 Shonda Rhimes joined the organization When We All Vote as a co-chair.[45] This organization was founded to get out the vote prior to the 2020 general election.


Main article: Shondaland

Shondaland is the name of Rhimes's production company.[46] Shondaland and its logo also refer to the shows Rhimes has produced[47] and to Rhimes herself. Shows included in Shondaland are:


Year Title Credited as
Creator Director Writer Producer
1995 Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream No Yes[48] No No
1998 Blossoms and Veils No Yes Yes No
1999 Introducing Dorothy Dandridge No No Yes No
2002 Crossroads No No Yes No
2004 The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement No No Yes No
2005–present Grey's Anatomy Yes No Yes Yes
2007–2013 Private Practice Yes No Yes Yes
2009 Inside the Box No No No Yes
2009 Seattle Grace: On Call Yes No No Yes
2009 Seattle Grace: Message of Hope Yes No No Yes
2011 Off the Map No No No Yes
2012 Gilded Lilys No No No Yes
2012–2018 Scandal Yes No Yes Yes
2014–2020 How to Get Away with Murder No No No Yes
2016–2017 The Catch No No No Yes
2017 Still Star-Crossed No No No Yes
2018–2019 For the People No No No Yes
2018–present Station 19 No No No Yes
2020–present Bridgerton No No No Yes
2022 Inventing Anna Yes No Yes Yes
2023 Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story Yes No Yes Yes
TBA Notes on Love[49] TBA TBA Yes Yes


Essays and reporting

Awards and nominations

Shonda Rhimes has won a Golden Globe Award and been nominated for four Emmy Awards. She has also won awards from the Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, and Directors Guild of America. Below is a more complete list.

Banff Television Festival

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2011 Best Continuing Series Grey's Anatomy Nominated [51]

Black Reel Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Best Screenplay, Adapted or Original The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement Nominated [51]

Directors Guild of America Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2014 DGA Diversity Award Shonda Rhimes Won [51]

GLAAD Media Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2012 Golden Gate Award Shonda Rhimes Won [51]

Primetime Emmy Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2006 Outstanding Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Nominated [51]
Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series Nominated
2007 Outstanding Drama Series Nominated
2021 Outstanding Drama Series Bridgerton Nominated

NAACP Image Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2006 Outstanding Drama Series Grey's Anatomy Won [51]
2007 Won
2008 Won
2009 Won
2010 Nominated
2011 Won
2013 Nominated
Scandal Nominated
2015 Entertainer of the Year Shonda Rhimes Nominated
2016 Nominated

Producers Guild of America Awards

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 Television Series - Drama Grey's Anatomy Nominated [51]
2006 Television Series - Drama Won
2007 Television Series - Drama Nominated
2021 Television Series - Drama Bridgerton Nominated

Writers Guild of America Award

Year Category Nominated work Result Ref.
2005 New Series Grey's Anatomy Won [51]
Dramatic Series Nominated
2006 Nominated
2015 Laurel Award for TV Writing Achievement Shonda Rhimes Won


  1. ^ "Shonda L. Rhimes '91 (Doctor of Arts)". Dartmouth College. June 8, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  2. ^ "UPI Almanac for Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021". United Press International. January 13, 2021. Archived from the original on February 27, 2021. Retrieved February 27, 2021. …TV producer Shonda Rhimes in 1970 (age 51)…
  3. ^ "Profile". TVLine. 13 May 2014. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  4. ^ Oh, Sandra (May 3, 2007). "The TIME 100, ARTISTS & ENTERTAINERS". TIME. Archived from the original on May 5, 2007. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  5. ^ Sinay, Danielle (September 15, 2021). "Time releases its 100 most influential people list". Indy100. Retrieved November 13, 2021.
  6. ^ Wallenstein, Andrew (14 August 2017). "Netflix Lures Shonda Rhimes Away From ABC Studios".
  7. ^ N'Duka, Amanda (5 October 2017). "Shonda Rhimes On Netflix Move, Inclusion & Knowing Your Value".
  8. ^ Paskin, Willa (May 9, 2013). "Network TV Is Broken. So How Does Shonda Rhimes Keep Making Hits?". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved May 9, 2013.
  9. ^ Stated on Finding Your Roots, January 19, 2016, PBS
  10. ^ "USC selects new vice provost and CIO". June 11, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2016.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Shonda Rhimes profile,; accessed January 28, 2015.
  12. ^ Maureen, Ryan (December 21, 2005). "Shonda Rhimes, creator of 'Grey's Anatomy' and a Chicagoan of the Year". The Watcher. Archived from the original on June 21, 2009. Retrieved January 21, 2008.
  13. ^ a b Hardwick, Zac (April 22, 2014). "Shonda Rhimes '91, 'Scandal' producer, to address graduates". Archived from the original on October 16, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  14. ^ Apr 2015, Jennifer Wulff '96 | Mar-. "Television's Wonder Woman". Dartmouth Alumni Magazine. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  15. ^ "The Quiet Mystery of Shonda Rhimes". The Hollywood Reporter. 23 June 2011. Retrieved 2019-04-02.
  16. ^ a b c d e Wilson, Stacey (June 26, 2011). "'Grey's Anatomy's' Shonda Rhimes Turns Up The Heat In New Series 'Scandal'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  17. ^ a b Rose, Lacey (October 8, 2014). "Shonda Rhimes Opens Up About 'Angry Black Woman' Flap, Messy 'Grey's Anatomy' Chapter, and the 'Scandal' Impact". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  18. ^ Moss, Corey (November 6, 2011). "Britney's heart into 'Crossroads,' outtakes from flick appear on Britney". MTV. MTV Networks. Retrieved July 15, 2011.
  19. ^ Snetiker, Marc (2012-02-15). "Crossroads Tenth Anniversary". Entertainment Weekly. Time Warner. Archived from the original on 2014-10-16. Retrieved 2012-03-09.
  20. ^ "Crossroads Daily Chart View". Box Office Mojo. 2002-02-15. Retrieved 2002-02-15.
  21. ^ "ABC Fall 2006 Schedule". Zap2it. 2006-07-11. Archived from the original on 2012-05-24. Retrieved 2006-10-25.
  22. ^ Private Practice (TV Series 2007–2013) - IMDb, retrieved 2019-03-02
  23. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (March 4, 2009). "Indira Varma to star in ABC's 'Inside the Box'".
  24. ^ "Tweet on Shonda Rhimes's Twitter Account". Twitter. Retrieved November 28, 2014.
  25. ^ Hanh Nguyen (May 18, 2010). "ABC's fall TV schedule, night by night". Zap2it. Archived from the original on May 21, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  26. ^ Updated: "V" Canceled; "Brothers & Sisters", "Mr. Sunshine", "Detroit 187", "Off the Map", "No Ordinary Family" Canceled, Too, TV By the Numbers, May 13, 2011
  27. ^ Chozick, Amy (May 13, 2011). "Shonda Rhimes on Owning Her Characters And Her New Show". The Wall Street Journal.
  28. ^ Abrams, Natalie, "ABC Picks Up Charlie's Angels, Tim Allen Comedy, Cancels Brothers & Sisters, V", TV Guide, May 13, 2011.
  29. ^ Seidman, Robert (January 10, 2012). "'Cougar Town' Tentatively Slated for March Return; 'Scandal' Premieres April 5, Bumps 'Private Practice' to Tuesdays at 10 + 'Don't Trust the B----...'". TV By the Numbers. Archived from the original on January 13, 2012. Retrieved January 10, 2012.
  30. ^ James Hibberd (January 13, 2012). "Shonda Rhimes period drama 'Gilded Lillys' gets pilot order". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  31. ^ Lesley Goldberg (January 13, 2012). "'Gilded Lillys': ABC Orders Shonda Rhimes's Period Drama Pilot". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
  32. ^ "ABC Orders Shondaland Pilot 'How To Get Away With Murder'". TheWrap. 2013-12-19. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  33. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (February 25, 2014). "Viola Davis to Star in ABC Drama 'How to Get Away With Murder'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  34. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (May 8, 2014). "ABC Picks Up Shonda Rhimes 'How To Get Away With Murder', John Ridley's 'American Crime', Comedy 'Black-ish' To Series". Retrieved May 9, 2014.
  35. ^ "How ABC's 'The Catch' Mixes 'Scandal' With 'Ocean's Eleven'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  36. ^ a b c d Koblin, John (2017-08-14). "Netflix Signs Shonda Rhimes in Counterpunch to ABC and Disney". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2017-08-14.
  37. ^ "Shonda Rhimes Opens Up About Leaving ABC: 'I Felt Like I Was Dying'". People. Retrieved 2020-10-22.
  38. ^ "Shonda Rhimes adopts second baby girl". Essence. April 7, 2012.
  39. ^ shonda rhimes [@shondarhimes] (18 September 2013). "Been AWOL from Twitter. I totally have a good reason: TINY HUMAN #3 is here and she's perfect! Babies are good. Life is good. #2shows3kids" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  40. ^ Sundberg Seaman, Kelly (April 21, 2014). "TV Producer Shonda Rhimes '91 to Speak at Commencement". Dartmouth College. Archived from the original on October 7, 2014. Retrieved October 9, 2014.
  41. ^ "Shonda Rhimes reveals 117-pound weight loss, admits she 'hated' dieting". October 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  42. ^ "Shonda Rhimes reveals airplane incident that sparked her 117-pound weight loss". 9 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-12.
  43. ^ Williams, Vanessa. "Shonda Rhimes, creator of 'Grey's Anatomy' and 'Scandal', joins Planned Parenthood board". The Washington Post. ISSN 0190-8286. Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  44. ^ MEG JAMES (25 October 2018). "Time's Up has kept #MeToo in the spotlight and raised $22 million. Now it wants leadership and focus". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 November 2022. Seven full-time staff members were hired with seed money from two of the co-founders, television producer Shonda Rhimes ("Grey's Anatomy") and producer Katie McGrath
  45. ^ "Michelle Obama Announces 7 New Co-Chairs Joining When We All Vote". Look to the Stars. 2019-11-12. Retrieved 2021-04-20.
  46. ^ Lebeau, Jordan (September 22, 2014). "The Angry Black Women of Shondaland: What The New York Times (and Slate) Got Wrong". The Boston Globe. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  47. ^ "About Us". The Shondaland Source. 2014. Archived from the original on October 14, 2014. Retrieved September 23, 2014.
  48. ^ Credited as Research Director.
  49. ^ White, Peter (September 24, 2019). "Shondaland Teams With Norman Lear, Steve Martin & 'Shrill' Creator Lindy West On Neflix Anthology Series 'Notes On Love'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  50. ^ Online version is titled "My Summer of Scooping Ice Cream".
  51. ^ a b c d e f g h "Shonda Rhimes". IMDb.
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