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African-American Leaders: Shonda Rhimes, TV Writer, Producer

29 January 2014
Pamphlet cover showing Shonda Rhimes smiling

Download pamphlet at right.

Shonda Rhimes is the creator, head writer and executive producer of the successful U.S. television drama Grey’s Anatomy. She is the first African-American woman to create and executive-produce one of the 10 most popular network television series. The show, now in its 10th season, won a Golden Globe for Rhimes for Best Television Series Drama. Grey’s Anatomy has also won National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Image Awards for addressing important issues of race.

Rhimes was born in 1970 in Chicago, the youngest of six children. Her father was a university administrator and her mother was a professor. A great storyteller since childhood, Rhimes earned a bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth University in English literature and creative writing. After briefly entering the advertising world in San Francisco, Rhimes enrolled in the Writing for Screen and Television Program at the University of Southern California, earning a master of fine arts degree.

In 2011, Rhimes won an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Drama Series for Private Practice, a show she launched in 2007 that featured story lines and characters based on Grey’s Anatomy. She launched another successful television show, Scandal, in 2012. The show follows a Washington based crisis-management firm that manages the images of public officials. The New York Times reports that Rhimes’ newest show is so popular that “on Thursday nights, Twitter becomes a giant Scandal chat room, fans of the show dispatching more than 190,000 tweets per episode.”