Shonda Rhimes, the creator of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and Private Practice, is one of the most powerful forces in television. And she doesn’t mince words when something is bothering her.
Her latest beef? The Diversity Award that she and Scandal executive producer Betsy Beers were given at the Directors Guild of America Awards Saturday night in Los Angeles.
“When I heard I was getting a Diversity Award, I was really, truly, profoundly honored. I began to get calls from Variety, The Hollywood Reporter, etc., and I was asked to comment on the award. Asked how good I felt about the award. Asked if it made me feel like I was doing the right thing. Asked if it had been a struggle making diversity happen on my cast and crews. While I’m still really and truly profoundly honored to receive this award, but I was also a little pissed off,” Rhimes said. “So was Betsy. So over many, many, many bottles of wine we discussed this.”
“We’re a little pissed off because there still needs to be an award. Like, there’s such a lack of people hiring women and minorities that when someone does it on a regular basis, they are given an award.”
Coming on the heels of the bleak 2013 report on women in film, Rhimes’ comments couldn’t be more timely.
“It’s not because of a lack of talent. It’s because of a lack of access. People hire who they know. If it’s been a white boys’ club for 70 years, that’s a lot of white boys hiring one another. And I don’t believe that that happens out of any specific racism or sexism or prejudice. People hire their friends. They hire who they know. It’s comfortable. You want to be successful, you don’t want to take any chances, you don’t want to rock the boat by hiring people of color because, well, look at us,” she said. “Both Betsy and I like the world that we work in to look like the world that we live in. Different voices make for different visions. Different visions make for something original. Original is what the public is starving for.”
Rhimes clearly didn’t want to sound ungrateful for the award, but also didn’t want to lose the message. “Betsy and I are truly honored and humbled that the DGA would thank our efforts. And yes, we’re a tiny bit pissed off that there needs to be an award,” she said. “We’re also proud that the DGA recognizes a problem and are trying to fix it. The DGA, by the way, is the only guild giving out this type of award in an attempt to draw attention to the problem, which I think is kind of badass.”
Rhimes and Beers left the stage Saturday to a standing ovation from their peers.