Shonda Rhimes Tells Elle Magazine Why She's Fighting for Diversity on Television

Oct 10, 2018 at 2:30 p.m. ET
Shonda Rhimes attends 2018 Vanity Fair Oscar Party Hosted By Radhika Jones - Arrivals at Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts
Image: Presley Ann/Patrick McMullan Via Getty Images.

The fem-spiration is real, y’all. Elle just unveiled the honorees of its November Women in Hollywood issue, and this year’s ladies are a diverse and empowered bunch. Take for example Shondaland mastermind Shonda Rhimes, who explains in her interview for the issue what her goal was when she first began creating characters for the screen. 

More: How Shonda Rhimes Changed Kerry Washington's Views About Powerful Women

“When I started writing TV shows, I wanted to represent everybody, because it should look like the real world. It should feel normal when you turn on the television and see people who look like you,” she said. 

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Other honorees in Elle’s Women in Hollywood issue echo this need for inclusivity — and are arguably a reflection of the fact that representation in TV and film, thanks to these women, is changing for the better. 

Angela Bassett, Lupita Nyong'o and Danai Gurira — the female cast of summer’s runaway blockbuster Black Panther — share a cover in the issue. On the impact of the movie, Bassett said, “We all felt the anticipation but had no idea how it would mushroom, or that it would be so global and smash whatever preconceived notions we’ve heard for decades — that stories like this about these people won’t travel as well or won’t generate financially on such a huge scale.” 

Gurira commented on the gender equality in the film as reflected by the society of Wakanda, saying, “[It] was celebratory of everyone equally [regardless of gender]. You see that in my character. She’s able to excel.”

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Another honoree, Black-ish star Yara Shahidi, also reflected on gender parity in Hollywood. 

“I do see a tangible change, or at least, I feel we’re on the precipice of one. There’s a correlation between [these] movements and the fact that there are more women behind the camera, in production, creating film,” she shared. 

Other honorees in this year’s Women in Hollywood issue are Lady Gaga, Sarah Paulson, Mia Farrow, Keira Knightley and Charlize Theron. All of the honorees will be the guests of honor at the 25th annual Elle Women in Hollywood event on Monday in Los Angeles. 

More: 20 Things to Know About the Ladies of  Black Panther

Mindy Kaling will emcee the event, with United States attorney and professor Anita Hill speaking about The Hollywood Commission on Eliminating Sexual Harassment and Advancing Equality. Each honoree will also be featured on a cover in the November issue of Elle, which hits newsstands on Oct. 23. 

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