Shonda Rhimes Furious Over Website's 'Diversity on TV' Article: 'HELL NO'

by Jackie Willis 11:43 AM PDT, March 25, 2015
Playing Shonda Rhimes Furious Over Website's 'Diversity on TV' Article: 'HELL NO'

Shonda Rhimes is responsible for some of the most successful dramas on television (Scandal, How To Get Away with Murder, Grey's Anatomy), and she's not taking comments made by the website Deadline on racial diversity on TV sitting down.

In an article written by Nellie Andreeva, titled Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings -- About Time or Too Much of a Good Thing?, she argues that perhaps too many roles are being given to minority actors and that in Hollywood casting, the "pendulum might have swung a bit too far in the opposite direction" when it comes to hiring non-Caucasian performers."

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"Instead of opening the field for actors of any race to compete for any role in a color-blind manner, there has been a significant number of parts designated as ethnic this year, making them off-limits for Caucasian actors, some agents signal," Andreeva writes. "Basically 50% of the roles in a pilot have to be ethnic, and the mandate goes all the way down to guest parts."

The article continues, noting, "While they are among the most voracious and loyal TV viewers, African-Americans still represent only 13% of the U.S. population. They were grossly underserved, but now, with shows as Empire, Black-ish, Scandal and HTGAWM on broadcast, Tyler Perry's fare on OWN and Mara Brock Akil's series on BET, they have scripted choices, so the growth in that fraction of the TV audience might have reached its peak."

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Upon reading this controversial piece, Rhimes took to Twitter Tuesday to vehemently slam the trade website and Andreeva's views on more actors of ethnic backgrounds on television. "1st Reaction:: HELL NO. Lemme take off my earrings, somebody hold my purse!" Rhimes wrote. "2nd Reaction: Article is so ignorant I can't even be bothered."

By Wednesday morning, the Emmy-winning writer's tweet had been shared over 700 times, including by Selma director Ava DuVernay.

But Rhimes wasn't the only one up in arms over the article's point of view. New York Times writer Dave Itzkoff tweeted: "Just astounding that something so tone deaf could be published in 2015 by a supposedly credible news source."

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Comedian Billy Eichner made light of the article, tweeting: "Did the Deadline article say anything about whether or not Chappie was black?"

Given Rhimes' response and the Twitter uproar from this article, we expect an op-ed response from a competing website to come shortly. 

What do you think of Deadline's article? Share your thoughts in the comments and tweet #ETnow.