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

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. 

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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To say there’s been a paradigm shift in the entertainment industry in the past year would be an understatement. And no one has faced its brave new landscape more head on than our ten honorees for 2018—the twenty-fifth anniversary of Women in Hollywood. . “Change is hard for everyone,” says @mssarahcatharinepaulson, regarding the gradual progress made in the wake of #MeToo, Time’s Up, and the movement to get more female story- tellers behind and in front of the camera. This theme emerges again and again in our November issue, from our Black Panther cast spot-light featuring @LupitaNyongo—who went from penning a powerful New York Times op-ed about a disturbing encounter with Harvey Weinstein to storming the box office alongside fellow Wakanda women of #BlackPanther @im.AngelaBassett and @DanaiGurira, to our poignant sit down with @realMiaFarrow, who has faced as many indignities at the hands of men as hard-fought triumphs, and whose son @RonanFarrow’s reporting has played a pivotal role in righting so many long-simmering wrongs. Rounding out our covers: the staunch equal-pay advocate #KeiraKnightley. . Link in bio for the full #ELLEWomenInHollywood story, featuring all the women above (plus Lady Gaga, Yara Shahidi, Charlize Theron, and Shonda Rhimes). || November 2018 #ELLEWIH brought to you by editor-in-chief @ninagarcia and creative director #stephengan

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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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