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‘Scandal’ Writer Shonda Rhimes Opens Up about Being Called an ‘Angry Black Woman’ by NY Times

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Shonda Rhimes can easily be described as a TV genius, having created hit shows like ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, ‘Scandal’ and most recently ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ featuring Viola Davis. What she should not be described as is an ‘angry black woman’, which is exactly what the New York Times called her a few weeks ago.

Covering the latest issue of The Hollywood Reporter (THR), the multi-talented writer and show creator addresses the ‘angry black woman’ issue that had social media enraged, as well as talking about her favorite showrunners, her favorite part of script writing, the role of race and gender in Hollywood and more.

You can see more pictures of Shonda Rhimes and read up her full interview and feature in The Hollywood Reporter here.

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Read excerpts from her interview below:

On the article published in NY Times: “Some really amazing articles were written that had the conversation that I’ve been trying to have for a very long time, which, coming from me, makes me sound like I’m just, ‘Rrrraw!’. She continues, “In this world in which we all feel we’re so full of gender equality and we’re a postracial [society] and Obama is president, it’s a very good reminder to see the casual racial bias and odd misogyny from a woman written in a paper that we all think of as being so liberal.”

On being asked how she manages three shows and three kids: “The question drives me nuts,” she says. “What does Chuck Lorre say when you ask him about work‑life balance?”

On how she actually combines work and the home front: “I don’t. … If I am at home sewing my kids’ Halloween costumes, I’m probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby’s first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter’s debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh‘s last scene ever being filmed at Grey’s Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.”

Shonda Rhimes adopted her first daughter in June 2002 and adopted another girl in February 2012. In September 2013, she welcomed her third daughter via gestational surrogacy.

Photo Credit: TheHollywoodReporter

31 Comments

  1. bruno

    October 9, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Shoda, thank you for giving black women are voice in television, Kerry Washington (scandal) and viola davis (how to get away with murder). But its true, the female characters she creates are always angry and hot tempered, I have never watched scandal but I have seen clips and olivia pope is always very angry and mad in the short clip I have seen, I watch how to get away with murder and viola davis character is so MEAN and intimidating. Even greys anatomy Dr. Bailey is so mean and serious. LOL its promotes the stereotype that black women are angry women.

    • nena

      October 9, 2014 at 10:36 pm

      I think the clips can sometimes give that impression. However clips are designed to get your attention so the most dramatic clips will always be chosen. However, here is something else to think about…when you see clips of shows featuring white actors, whether male or female, they are often “tough”, “forceful”, and “take charge”. Why is it that when a Black actor, whether male or female, exhibits those same qualities the characters they portray are frequently perceived as “mean”? I imagine many whose profession is a politically fixer in D.C., A law professor and high powered attorney, or an expert surgeon might be intense and temperamental regardless of race or gender. Additionally, clips exist out of context. You really should watch the shows to get an accurate feel for the characters.

    • bruno

      October 10, 2014 at 12:12 am

      @nena, pls just shut up, you know nothing. You know nothing about TV shows, acting and writing. Her black characters she created are MEAN and aggressive, sometimes too aggressive. Olivia pope is mean and aggressive same thing with viola davis character in how to get away with murder, the first episode if u see the way she shouted at a client, I thought she was going to give the client a heavy any minute. She terrorise’s her law students every second in how to get away with murder. Scandal is too melodramatic and too soap opera-ish.

    • Leah

      October 10, 2014 at 1:09 am

      First of all, you said “the female characters she creates are always angry and hot tempered”. I am guessing you mean just the black female characters, as indicated in the rest of your comment because she has created more white female characters that the black ones. Since you have never watch scandal, Olivia Pope is not “angry”, she is a very well educated woman with power with a lot of powerful male suitors. The nature of the character and her romantic affairs makes it hard for her to be angry or hot tempered. If anything, the character Quinn is more of an “angry” character (if you may) because of what she has being through, or even Mellie. There are a lot of similar and even tougher white characters on TV, but I have never heard the term “anger white woman” from any one. Rosie O’Donnell has never been called angry before even though that woman has barked, scratched, fought on TV so many times just being herself. Judge Judy has never being called angry white woman before, and you can go watch clips of her in action.

      That article was about a black, smart and very successful woman who chose to hire a few black women to play powerful characters and some just can’t handle it. Bruno, I know it’s fun being the class clown, but you don’t have to comment on everything article, sometimes you just have to shut up and listen.

    • bruno

      October 10, 2014 at 1:36 am

      @leah ur a goat, a foolish goat. Why are all of you people so stupid. Did u read the article in the newyork times, NO. Many critics have complained that the black characters shonda created are Angry black women, both kerry Washington (scandal) and viola davis (HTGAWM). This promotes the stereotypes, that all black women are aggressive and angry. I haven’t watched scandals but I have read reviews, I hate read articles about the show,and they all say the same thing, ANGRY BLACK WOMAN, I’m sure nobody has watched how to get away with murder staring the amazing viola davis, her character she portrays is ANGRY and MEAN, So pls stfu. You people don’t know anything about quality TV shows, acting or writing. Scandal is melodramatic, and soap opera-ish, I couldn’t get past the first episode because olivia pope was screaming and behaving crazy, she kept on doing that oliva pope face which annoyed the hell out of me . Scandal is cheesy, that’s why nigerians like it. The actors are good, but the writing is bad. (Bella naija I may eventually stop commenting on ur blog since u decided not to post my previous comments).

    • Nonso

      October 10, 2014 at 4:12 am

      Thanks Leah. Up til now, I thought I’m the only one who can’t stand Judge Judy’s rants on tv.
      Moreover, every writer has a character that brings their story home. Same goes for other forms of art. Sometimes it could be personal style just like JayZ raps or MJ’s voice. You can’t really divorce that. She creates her own character to tell a story and that barely should be a reflection of herself

    • Respect

      October 10, 2014 at 7:49 am

      You are stupid to judge a whole series based on clips. Invest the time and find out why!
      PS. I bet you didn’t even think she was an ” angry woman”‘ until you saw the article. Evaluate things on your own and don’t just get carried away

    • lumdys.blospot.com

      October 10, 2014 at 1:56 pm

      well the way i see most of her script.they are just what happens in peoples lifes, especially the black race. the white ppl are just full of criticism.

    • sansa stark

      October 10, 2014 at 6:41 pm

      Are you an illiterate? You haven’t watched Scandal and you are saying by just watching the clip, you know everything about Olivia pope. Firstly, Olivia pope is a successful professional fixer with a confused personal life. She is far from angry and instead projects an image of a wealthy, educated woman. Nothing angry about the way she talks or her attitude.
      Annalise Keating is a high power attorney who really doesn’t care about relationships but instead winning every court case. She isn;t angry, she’s driven.
      Lastly, Dr. Bailey is not even the main character in Grey’s anatomy, it’s Meredith Grey. But becasue Dr. Bailey is black and she is brutally honest and kind and is an excellent general surgeon the she is angry????????

      So when women are successful, they are angry?

      Bruno, please have a seat and only say the things you know, I wish I knew you so I can slap your mouth every time you make these your myopic statements.

  2. steve daniel

    October 9, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Keep it up

  3. ATL's finest

    October 9, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    She’s got ABC shows wrapped up in her hands and bringing in that muallah.. So really don’t give a crap with NYC times is calling her..

    • ATL's finest

      October 9, 2014 at 8:24 pm

      *really*

  4. sadidy

    October 9, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    love her responses. its always a trade off. men trade off work home balance all the time yet they dont ask them stupid questions like these.
    she isnt an angry black woman, she a successful black woman yet cos the writer in the NYtimes didnt wanna acknowledge that, they decided to add angry.
    brilliant successful writer and producer! you go girl!!!!

  5. Thatgidigirl

    October 9, 2014 at 9:44 pm

    Her response to the question about work/family balance is soooo apt! celebs talk about this formula and that method to strike a balance but truth is that there must always be a trade off. Thanks for the honesty Shonda.

  6. bruno

    October 9, 2014 at 10:52 pm

    Bellanaija so you eventually posted my comment. LOL SMH

    • Dandelion

      October 10, 2014 at 10:11 am

      Bruno you need to disappear. Scandal might be cheesy but there is no way in hell Olivia pope or Dr Bailey can be called angry black women but ofcourse since you’re a black puppet and the article was written by a foreign magazine it immediately becomes your opinion. You need some fertilizer to grow your peanut sized brain cells.

    • Jey

      October 10, 2014 at 11:16 am

      Thanks alot Dandelion, I’ve been reading the comments and was going to say same to Bruno but thanks alot for doing the Honours.
      Bruno, with a brain like yours, your r a waste of our air…

    • Springsteps

      October 10, 2014 at 2:39 pm

      @ Bruno… you come across as one whom cannot communicate without bullying others with insults first ans childish antics. You seem unable to get ur messages across without first sounding brash.

      Find proper channels to vent all ur anger as bella naija is a platform for all kinds of opinions to be aired and not shouting others down. There is so much room for everyone so why the HATE COMMENTS.

      On a final note, Bella naija has to consider your request to altogether stop posting your comments as i fear a lot of readers will either leave this blog, stop visiting at all, or stop commenting or in a worse case, a breed of hate comments will start.

      we have all watched this blog grow and one less toxic individual MAY do us good.

      Bella naija, i am speaking on behalf of other readers, please consider our plea for Bruno to take a chill pill.

      And to Bruno… whatever you throw at me, i wld ignore. Why??? Cos am not easily broken..

      Peace

  7. Ndubuisi

    October 10, 2014 at 12:57 am

    Black people here in United State both rich and not so rich always complain. i just don’t get it.

  8. Amh

    October 10, 2014 at 1:38 am

    @bruno you area -. Just grow up silly.

  9. bruno

    October 10, 2014 at 1:45 am

    Shonda is amazing but the female black characters she created are ANGRY and MEAN spirited, very fierce and aggressive, infact too aggressive. I watched a clip where olivia pope was shouting at the president, she walked into his office and started screaming “EARN ME” !!! I was shocked, why is she so MEAN and hot tempered. I watch good shows like the good wife, bates motel, downton abbey, american horror story, orphan black and house of cards (my favourite),the lead actresses (who are white) are not MEAN or HOT tempered, but they are not weak, they are strong women in control, they don’t need to shout or behave crazy like olivia pope. Viola davis (amazing actress) is scary in how to get away with murder (a show produced by shoda) go and watch it, and ur mouth will drop, her character is olivia popes’s mother in another life, SO MEAN and aggressive.

  10. bruno

    October 10, 2014 at 3:51 am

    Unrelated news- all you homophobic people who watch scandal, NEWSFLASH, Huck a.k.a guillermo diaz is gay in real life. Oya go and kill urself lol.

    • pearl ice

      October 10, 2014 at 10:27 am

      Hmm Bruno you are now happy because you have a gay colleague in scandal,sorry we cant kill ourselves ,we dint kill ourselves for you ,so why should we kill ourselves.Huck is gay in his real life how does that concern us.

  11. Bukola

    October 10, 2014 at 8:54 am

    I watch Scandal and i can tell you Olivia Pope isnt always angry, she is well educated and acts to be in control even when she isnt sure, you dont expect her to let her guard down, its like saying a lawyer is angry and mean when he is fighting to defend his client, he will definitely have to make his opponent know that he means business……. by the way i love SCANDAL so interesting

  12. vivian

    October 10, 2014 at 10:33 am

    na wa oh this Bruno chill with all the abuse!

  13. sansa stark

    October 10, 2014 at 6:56 pm

    @leah ur a goat, a foolish goat. Why are all of you people so stupid. Did u read the article in the newyork times, NO. Many critics have complained that the black characters shonda created are Angry black women, both kerry Washington (scandal) and viola davis (HTGAWM). This promotes the stereotypes, that all black women are aggressive and angry. I haven’t watched scandals but I have read reviews, I hate read articles about the show,and they all say the same thing, ANGRY BLACK WOMAN, I’m sure nobody has watched how to get away with murder staring the amazing viola davis, her character she portrays is ANGRY and MEAN, So pls stfu. You people don’t know anything about quality TV shows, acting or writing. Scandal is melodramatic, and soap opera-ish, I couldn’t get past the first episode because olivia pope was screaming and behaving crazy, she kept on doing that oliva pope face which annoyed the hell out of me . Scandal is cheesy, that’s why nigerians like it. The actors are good, but the writing is bad. (Bella naija I may eventually stop commenting on ur blog since u decided not to post my previous comments).

    My reply:
    -Leah is not a goat and no one is stupid.
    -Yes I read the article in the New York times and Alessandra Stanley is the only person who made that opinion about Angry black women. Prior to that, there hasn’t been any article about Shonda creating characters about angry black women.
    -Since you have never watched Scandal and the only part you saw was when she was screaming at the president, let me help you understand that scene.
    Olivia pope was having an argument with her lover, who is the president, about how she will like to be treated by him. If you argue with your lover, are you smiling or angry? And when you scream at your lover does that mean you are angry all the time?
    -Learn not to generalize situations, it will help you become a better debater. Like I said your arguments are always myopic. Because a white person says it doesn’t mean she’s right okay.
    -Most people that comment here live in the US or are abroad and therefore know a thing or two about quality TV.
    -It is your opinion that Scandal is melodramatic. I felt that way to until i got past the third episode. Sometimes you need to be patient and exercise your attention span, if not you’ll always make rash decisions based on just a clip.
    -There is nothing wrong in liking cheesy.
    -I am sure Bella Naija will not care if you stop commenting. That’s one less dumb person for all of us to worry about.

    Peace out and i don;t care about your reply.

  14. ACE

    October 10, 2014 at 10:12 pm

    Bruno’s comments should really be “blipped” from this site … beginning to wonder if he’s human, eeeeeeeeeeeevery comment, degrading…kai!

    Angry black SUCCESSFUL woman #kmt

  15. Http://xplorenollywood.blogspot.com

    October 11, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    Got this talk from a motivational speaker that there is nothing like work-life balance, and I am beginning to see it here with Shonda, her work and kids. What we have is work like integration. Once I get the full write-up I would gladly share it with BN.

  16. Adaobi

    October 13, 2014 at 12:55 pm

    This Bruno guy is very rude

  17. i will call my dog bruno so he can bark well

    November 18, 2014 at 7:54 pm

    Bruno, i don’t care if anyone is making stupid comments but you are completely rude and dare i say silly even if i am hoping not to come down to your level.

    This is a public forum , we all like coming here to unwind ,stop ruining it for others , from your previous comments you sound gay,black and mean. Your low self esteem is a problem obviously, try sleeping with a woman or even send a mail to shonda everyday to inspire her to write her new story ,black, gay and stupid . If that sells , you can use your share of it to buy some sense .

    Public nuisance

  18. Wummy

    November 18, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    LMAO @ Bruno…thank you for telling us your reasoning is myopic, i mean you watched the first episode and u just concluded, what class are you please Nursery 1? i bet you couldn’t make it past that, but you can get better oh. Only be patient.

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