Hannah Blackwell
Category: 2022 College Winner

Hannah Blackwell

Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder… These are three very successful shows all created by none other than Shonda Rhimes. Rhimes is the first African American woman to ever create and executive produce a Top10 network series. This is already an amazing accomplishment on its own, but what is even more groundbreaking is that she did it all from her own creativity, while drawing from her experiences as a black woman. Rhimes was not just handed the opportunity to be the head of these shows, instead, she had to actually work for it. She experienced failure many times to get where she is; however, that just made her work even harder.

Rhimes has redefined what is possible for actors of color, normalizing television screens to reflect real-life events. Two of her most popular television series are Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder which both feature a strong, black female lead that portrays the life of a woman dedicated to her work. In several interviews, Rhimes emphasizes the importance of creating shows that convey women being passionate about their own careers and not just the typical “housewife” roles. Rhimes is a clear advocate for feminism and women’s empowerment. She often uses her own life to draw inspiration for her shows. In addition, she addresses current events and issues in her series to shine light upon controversial topics that need to be discussed such as racism, sexism, gay rights, etc.

Rhimes has made an outstanding name for herself within the film and broadcast industry while still continuing to do great things. In 2005, she founded Shondaland, an American television production company which is where her hit shows are produced. In 2015 Rhimes published the self-help book Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person to inspire people to take chances with hopes of new opportunities. Shonda Rhimes is no stranger to accepting opportunities that come her way. By taking advantage of any opportunity she can, she became one of the most successful showrunners. She has paved the way for African Americans in a field that is normally dominated by white people.

Rhimes’ success story has influenced me to know that every step I take in my career will not automatically lead to success. I have learned from her that, although I might fail, I should never give up on my dreams. I have always dreamed of having a career in the film and broadcast industry and watching Shonda Rhimes actually do it makes it feel like it is attainable with the proper work ethic and passion. Seeing a strong, black, female creator like Rhimes encourages me that anything is possible if I really want it. As a black female, this gives me the hope and inspiration that I can follow my dreams and develop a successful career in the broadcast industry. Because of her perseverance, drive, and determination, Rhimes is undoubtedly a trailblazer in our generation.