While accepting the Ally for Equality Award at the Human Rights Campaign’s Los Angeles gala, Shonda Rhimes gave a powerful speech about writing and how Shondaland helped pull her out of a dark spot as a child.
“There were times in my youth when writing those stories in Shondaland quite literally saved my life,” Rhimes said. “And now I get kids telling me it quite literally saves theirs. That is beyond humbling. And every single time it comes down to one thing. You are not alone. Nobody should be alone. So. I write.”
Before ending on that powerful note, the producer behind Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal revealed that she’s been working on these stories since she was a pre-teen.
“I created friends. I named them and wrote every detail about them. I gave them stories and homes and families,” Rhimes said. “I wrote about their parties and their dates and their friendships and their lives and they were so real to me that...”
Rhimes continued, adding: “You see, Shondaland, the imaginary land of Shonda, has existed since I was 11 years old. I built it in my mind as a place to hold my stories. A safe place. A space for my characters to exist, a space for me to exist. Until I could get the hell out of being a teenager and could run out into the world and be myself. Less isolated, less marginalized, less invisible in the eyes of my peers. Until I could find my people in the real world.”
Because she was being honored for her fight for equality, Rhimes also addressed diversity on TV, saying that she prefers the word “normalizing.” “I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks,” she said. "Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary."
“The goal is that everyone should get to turn on the TV and see someone who looks like them and loves like them,” Rhimes said. “And just as important, everyone should turn on the TV and see someone who doesn’t look like them and love like them. Because, perhaps then, they will learn from them. Perhaps then, they will not isolate them, marginalize them, erase them. Perhaps they will even come to recognize themselves in them. Perhaps they will even learn to love them.”
Of course, Rhimes is notorious for defending her shows and the LGBT characters that populate them. Watch as she slams a Twitter user for going after the gay sex scenes.