Shonda Rhimes Says Emmys’ Self-Congratulatory Attitude Toward Diversity is ‘Embarrassing’

By Sameer Rao Sep 19, 2017

Shonda Rhimes knows a thing or two about breaking new ground for Hollywood artists of color. The success of her Shondaland Productions shows makes her one of television’s most successful Black women executives. Viola Davis‘ performance in one of those shows, "How to Get Away with Murder," earned her the 2015 "Lead Actress in a Drama Series" Emmy—the first time a Black actress ever won that award. So while many of her peers celebrated the diverse group of winners at last weekend’s Primetime Emmy Awards ceremony, Rhimes viewed the response with skepticism.

“It’s embarrassing, frankly,” she says in a Vanity Fair profile published today (September 19). “To me, it feels embarrassing that we are still in a place in which we still have to note these moments [when people of color win]."

"I’m hoping that it’s not a trend," she adds about the Emmys’ apparent self-congratulatory attitude towards television diversity. It was most evident in a mid-ceremony video montage that featured people of color in on- and off-screen roles. "I’m hoping that people don’t feel satisfied because they saw a lot of people win, and then think that we’re done.”

Outside of her television shows, Rhimes continues highlighting women of color on, a lifestyle website that Variety reports she launched yesterday (September 19). It centers women and critiques sexist media narratives, and it already boasts several interviews with influential women, including U.S. representative Maxine Waters and culture critic Roxane Gay. Despite its "lifestyle" tag, Rhimes says she wants to avoid the sensationalism behind many lifestyle-affiliated platforms.

“One of the things we didn’t want to be was purveyors of was, ‘If you don’t do this, you’re gonna lose your boyfriend. If you don’t do this, you’re gonna lose your job. If you don’t do this, you’re gonna die tomorrow,’” she says. “I didn’t want us to be purveyors of fear. I wanted it to be about life.”

Read the full profile at