Even if you don’t watch Shonda Rhimes’s shows, you have to agree that she has done a lot for diversity on TV. For her efforts she was awarded the Producers Guild’s Norman Lear Award for Achievement in Television Saturday night. Her acceptance speech was nothing short of EPIC. I have not been able to find a video of the complete speech, but here are some highlights I have managed to cull from various sources:
“It’s not trailblazing to write the world as it actually is. Women are smart and strong. They are not sex toys or damsels in distress. People of color are not sassy or dangerous or wise. And, believe me, people of color are never anybody’s sidekick in real life.
“See, the thing about all this trailblazing that everyone says I’ve been doing, it’s not like I did things and then the studio or the network gasped with horror and fought me. It was 2004. Norman Lear had already done a bunch of trailblazing 40 years earlier. When I came along, nobody was saying no. They were perfectly happy to say yes. You know what the problem was? I don’t think anyone else was asking them. I think it had been a very long time since anybody asked or even tried. Maybe content creators were afraid, maybe they had been hitting brick walls, maybe they had had their spirits broken. Maybe their privilege had made them oblivious. Maybe. But for me, I was just being normal. Maybe their privilege had made them oblivious.”
I’m struck by how easy she found it to do some of things she wanted to do. I think this points out the importance of having a diverse team behind the camera, so that we have more people for this is just “normal.” TV and audiences are ready for it, they want it.
I created the content that I wanted to see and I created what I know is normal. So basically, you are just giving me an award for being me, in which case I totally deserve it. Really, I am honored to receive it. The respect of this award does mean the world. It just makes me a little bit sad. First of all, strong women and three-dimensional people of color is something Norman was doing 40-something years ago. So how come it has to be done all over again? What are we waiting for? I mean, I know this is a room full of producers, so probably you’re waiting for money.
I think Shonda, among others, has proven that diverse shows make lots and lots of money. Time to stop waiting for the money, it’s here.
If I ever find a video of the speech I will post it, because I would really like to see this in it’s entirety.