Shonda Lynn Rhimes,[1] CBE (born January 13, 1970)[2] is an American television producer and screenwriter, and founder of the production company Shondaland. Inducted into the Television Hall of Fame and NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame,[3] Rhimes became known as the showrunner—creator, head writer, and executive producer—of the medical drama Grey's Anatomy (2005–present), its spin-off Private Practice (2007–2013) and the political thriller Scandal (2012–2018), becoming the first woman to create three television dramas that have achieved the 100 episode milestone.[4]

Shonda Rhimes
Rhimes in 2016
Shonda Lynn Rhimes

(1970-01-13) January 13, 1970 (age 54)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Alma mater
  • Television producer
  • screenwriter
Years active1995–present

She has served as the executive producer of the ABC thriller series How to Get Away with Murder (2014–2020), the Netflix period series Bridgerton (2020–present) and Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story (2023), and drama Inventing Anna (2022). She has been nominated five times for a Primetime Emmy Award, won a Golden Globe Award, and received special honors at the British Academy Television Awards and International Emmy Awards.

In 2017, she was inducted as a Chair's Appointee of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences‘s executive committee.[5][6] She is also part of the USC Film Council and the Writers Guild Inclusion Committee.[7][8]

In 2007, 2013, and 2021, Rhimes was named by Time to the Time 100, their annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world.[9][10] As of 2023, she is one of the richest women entertainers in America, with a net worth of $250 million.[11] In 2015, she published her first book, a memoir, Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person. In 2016, Rhimes formed The Rhimes Family Foundation whose mission is to support arts, education, and activism.

Early life and education

Rhimes was born in Chicago, Illinois, as the youngest of six children of Vera P. (née Cain), a college professor, and Ilee Rhimes Jr., a university administrator.[12][13] Her mother attended college while raising their six children and earned a PhD in educational administration in 1991. Her father, who holds an MBA, became chief information officer (CIO) at the University of Southern California, serving until 2013.[14]

Rhimes lived in Park Forest South (now University Park, Illinois), with her two older brothers and three older sisters. She has said she exhibited an early affinity for storytelling.[15] While in high school, she served as a hospital volunteer, which inspired an interest in hospital environments.[16]

Raised Catholic, Rhimes attended Marian Catholic High School in Chicago Heights, Illinois.[17] At Dartmouth College, she majored in English and film studies and earned her bachelor's degree in 1991.[18][19] At Dartmouth, she joined the Black Underground Theater Association. She divided her time between directing and performing in student productions, and writing fiction.[18] She also wrote for the college newspaper.[20]

After college, she relocated to San Francisco with an older sibling and worked in advertising at McCann Erickson.[21] She subsequently moved to Los Angeles to attend the University of Southern California and study screenwriting.[15] Ranked at the top of her USC class, Rhimes earned the Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship.[21] She obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.

While at USC, Rhimes was hired as an intern by Debra Martin Chase. Rhimes credits her early success, in part, to mentors such as Chase, a prominent African-American producer. Chase later again served as a mentor to Rhimes on The Princess Diaries 2. Rhimes also worked at Denzel Washington's company, Mundy Lane Entertainment.[22]


Career beginnings: 1995–2004

After graduation, Rhimes was an unemployed scriptwriter in Hollywood.[15] To make ends meet, Rhimes worked at a variety of day jobs, including as an office administrator and then a counselor at a job center that taught job skills to people with housing instability and mental illness. During this period, Rhimes worked as research director on the documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream (1995), which won the 1995 Peabody Award.[15][21] In 1998, Rhimes made a short film, Blossoms and Veils, starring Jada Pinkett-Smith and Jeffrey Wright, which is her only credit as a film director.[15] New Line Cinema purchased a feature script of hers. Rhimes received an assignment to co-write the HBO movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999), which earned numerous awards for its star, Halle Berry.[15][21]

In 2001, Rhimes wrote Crossroads, the debut film of pop singer Britney Spears.[23] Despite being panned by critics, the film grossed more than $60 million worldwide.[24][25]

Rhimes next worked on writing Disney's sequel to its popular movie The Princess Diaries (2001). Although The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) did not score as well at the box office, Rhimes later said that she treasured the experience, if only for the opportunity to work with its star, Julie Andrews.[15] In 2003, Rhimes wrote her first TV pilot for ABC about young female war correspondents, but the network turned it down.[21][22]

Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and other projects with ABC

Rhimes is the creator and currently executive producer and head writer of Grey's Anatomy. The series debuted as a mid-season replacement on March 27, 2005. The series features the surgical staff at the fictional Seattle Grace Hospital (later to be named Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital), in Seattle, Washington. The series features an ensemble cast with Ellen Pompeo serving as titular character Meredith Grey, who provides narration for a majority of the series' episodes.[26]

In 2007, Rhimes created and produced the Grey's Anatomy spin-off series Private Practice, which debuted September 26, 2007, on ABC. The show chronicles the life of Dr. Addison Montgomery (Kate Walsh) as she leaves Seattle Grace Hospital for Los Angeles to join a private practice. The series also features an ensemble cast, including Tim Daly, Amy Brenneman, Audra McDonald and Taye Diggs among others. The first season was shortened because of a writers' strike; it has nine episodes. In May 2012, ABC picked up Private Practice for the 2012–13 television season with 13 episodes. The series finale aired January 22, 2013.[27]

In 2010, Rhimes created a new pilot for ABC called Inside the Box, a female-centric ensemble drama set in a Washington, D.C. network news bureau. The lead character is Catherine, an ambitious female news producer who, with her colleagues, pursues "the story" at all costs while juggling their personal animosities and crises of conscience.[28] It was not picked up by the network.[29]

In 2011, Rhimes served as executive producer for the medical drama, Off the Map, which was created by Grey's Anatomy writer, Jenna Bans. It focuses on a group of doctors who practice medicine at a remote clinic in the Amazon jungle.[30] The series was officially cancelled by the ABC network on May 13, 2011.[31]

In May 2011, ABC ordered Rhimes' pilot script Scandal to series. Kerry Washington starred as Olivia Pope, a political crisis management expert. The character is partially based on former Bush administration press aide Judy Smith.[32][33] The series debut aired on April 5, 2012.[34]

In 2012, Rhimes developed a pilot for a period drama, Gilded Lilys, but it was not picked up to series.[35][36]

In December 2013, ABC ordered a pilot for a new Rhimes series, How to Get Away with Murder.[37] Actress Viola Davis joined the cast as the lead character in February 2014.[38] It was officially picked up to series on May 8, 2014.[39]

In March 2016, ABC premiered The Catch, a comedy-drama led by Rhimes based on a treatment by British author Kate Atkinson. It stars Mireille Enos and Peter Krause.[40] Later that month, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Grey's Anatomy were respectively picked up for their sixth, third and 13th seasons. The following year, it was announced that Scandal would conclude after its upcoming seventh season, while The Catch was cancelled after its second.[41]

Netflix deal

On August 14, 2017, Netflix announced that it had entered into an exclusive multi-year development deal with Rhimes, under which all of her future productions will be Netflix Original series.[42] The service had already purchased U.S. streaming rights to past episodes of Grey's Anatomy and Scandal. Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos described Rhimes as being a "true Netflixer at heart" since "she loves TV and films, she cares passionately about her work, and she delivers for her audience".[41] The deal was considered to be a coup for Netflix due to Rhimes' prominence at ABC; it was also considered to be a counter toward the effort by Disney, ABC's parent company, to reduce the availability of their content on Netflix in favor of a planned subscription streaming service of their own.[41][43]

As of October 2020, she was working on more than 12 projects for Netflix, extended her deal with Netflix.[44] The first production was Bridgerton, which was released in 2020 and became the most-watched series ever on the platform,[45] leading to the production of three seasons by 2024.[46] In 2021 Rhimes produced the drama miniseries Inventing Anna.[47] In April 2022, the production of Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story conceived by Rhimes was announced, as a spin-off of Bridgerton.[48]

Personal life

Rhimes adopted her first daughter in June 2002 and adopted another daughter in February 2012.[49] In September 2013, Rhimes welcomed her third daughter via gestational surrogacy.[50]

In 2014, Rhimes gave a commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, where she received an honorary doctorate.[51]

In September 2015, Rhimes revealed she had lost 117 pounds (53 kg) via exercise and dieting.[52][53]


In April 2017, Rhimes joined the national board of Planned Parenthood.[54] Later that same year, Rhimes and Katie McGrath co-founded Time's Up, and both of them donated the funds to hire its first seven employees.[55]

In 2019, Rhimes joined the organization When We All Vote as a co-chair.[56] This organization was founded to get out the vote prior to the 2020 general election.


Shondaland is the name of Rhimes's production company.[57] Shondaland and its logo also refer to the shows Rhimes has produced[58] and to Rhimes herself. Shows included in Shondaland are:


Year Title Credited as
Creator Director Writer Producer
1995 Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream No Yes[59] No No
1998 Blossoms and Veils No Yes Yes No
1999 Introducing Dorothy Dandridge No No Yes No
2002 Crossroads No No Yes No
2004 The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement No No Yes No
2005–present Grey's Anatomy Yes No Yes Yes
2007–2013 Private Practice Yes No Yes Yes
2009 Inside the Box No No No Yes
2009 Seattle Grace: On Call Yes No No Yes
2009 Seattle Grace: Message of Hope Yes No No Yes
2011 Off the Map No No No Yes
2012 Gilded Lilys No No No Yes
2012–2018 Scandal Yes No Yes Yes
2014–2020 How to Get Away with Murder No No No Yes
2016–2017 The Catch No No No Yes
2017 Still Star-Crossed No No No Yes
2018–2019 For the People No No No Yes
2018–present Station 19 No No No Yes
2020–present Bridgerton No No No Yes
2022 Inventing Anna Yes No Yes Yes
2023 Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story Yes No Yes Yes
TBA Notes on Love[60] TBA TBA Yes Yes


  • Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person, November 2015. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-1476777092. OCLC 1026348497.

Essays and reporting

  • "Scoop Dreams". Work for Hire. The New Yorker. Vol. 92, no. 32. October 10, 2016. p. 64.[61]

Awards and nominations

Winner of the Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama in 2006 for Grey's Anatomy, Rhimes won the International Emmy Founders Award and the Special Award at the British Academy Television Awards. She also received special honorees for her works at the Costume Designers Guild Awards, Directors Guild of America Award, ICG Publicists Awards, Writers Guild of America Award and Producers Guild of America Awards.[62]


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  59. ^ Credited as Research Director.
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  61. ^ Online version is titled "My Summer of Scooping Ice Cream".
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External links