I had the pleasure of sitting down to hear from the creative mind (and USC School of Cinematic Arts Alumna) behind Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, How to Get Away With Murder and, naturally, Scandal. She put #TGIT on the TV Guide Map (I won’t commit to anything else on Thursdays at 9 PM) … ‘Twas none other than Shonda Rhimes!
The moderator claimed that he felt like “a go-kart next to a Rolls-Royce of a human being” and that sentiment was soon shared by the entire audience. The writer shed light on her new book, Year of Yes, and the decisions that sent her on her way to a more fulfilled life: On Thanksgiving in 2013, Shonda’s sister warned that she “never said yes to anything.” As she recounts, “She was right. What did I have to be unhappy about?”
After an appointment to the Kennedy Center board, an afternoon with President Obama and a few nerve-wracking television appearances, Shonda felt that she was ready to take on the world through her work. “I can live inside my own book, my own head… It’s dangerous. That is a world that only existed for me and now it exists for everyone on Thursday night.”
She continued to emphasize just how closely she lives with her primetime characters: “You don’t spend an hour a week with a lot of people you know, but if you watched Grey’s Anatomy, you spent 200 hours with these characters. And I spent even more.” To the surprise of the audience, she spilled that she even writes in her sleep! “At least I’m getting something else done at the same time.”
As a young, introverted child, Shonda Rhimes was constantly encouraged by her parents to get some fresh air. “So I would always tuck books into my pants, climb trees and read them. That was my rebellion. I was wild!”
Though she’s come to be a big name in the entertainment industry, it was clear that she’s as human as any, as evidenced by quotes like “I’m the person who splits their pants and doesn’t feel the breeze for a long time,” or “The number of things I don’t remember scares me.”
Perhaps the most memorable takeaway of the night was her advice to anyone who has trouble saying, “No”:
“Saying ‘Yes’ to everything is saying ‘No’ to yourself in a way that is not appropriate.”
Here’s a friendly reminder that if Shonda can conquer personal demons and split pants with books stuffed in them to build a multi-million dollar empire, so can you.