Last night, Scandal star Tony Goldwyn presented the honorary International Emmy Founders Award to Shonda Rhimes at the Hilton New York (the same venue where Trump celebrated his presidential election victory less than two weeks ago). The International Emmy Founders Award is presented to to individuals whose creative accomplishments have contributed in some way to the quality of global television production.
“Shonda Rhimes has truly made a global impact on television. She is in a league of her own – not only does she have an entire night of prime-time on ABC in the United States, but her ground-breaking shows and iconic characters are avidly followed by over 300 million viewers worldwide, in 67 languages. And she repeatedly keeps surprising the industry and her audiences, with her new shows and story lines.” – Bruce L Paisner , President and chief executive of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences
Goldwyn described Rhimes as a “groundbreaker” for diversity on television by creating, writing and producing such shows as Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, and How to Get Away with Murder.
“With our political dialogue sadly exclusively focused on what divides us, the world of Shondaland is a constant reminder of Maya Angelou’s oft-quoted phrase: ‘We are more alike my friends than we are unalike.” – Tony Goldwyn
Rhimes herself acknowledged the change in the political climate as she spoke about the power of diversity in television and the many people who feel scared about their future including people of color, women, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, Muslims and people with disabilities.
“It’s (television) is the most powerful source of communication in the world: we sit with you in your homes, you spend more hours with many of my character than you do with members of your own family. That comes with an enormous responsibility, and I take it very seriously. Words have power. TV has power. My pen has power.
People have asked me about diversity and I’ve chastised them; people have asked me about legacy and I ignored them; they’ve talked to me about influence and I changed the subject. I’ve had the luxury of living in a free and fair America where I slept peacefully under the ideals of equality and the making of a more perfect union. The ideals are still there; whether or not we’re actually gonna live up to them is the question.”
In the wake of the election of Donald Trump, Rhimes said she will continue to write these characters, but even more consciously.
“A lot of people right now are scared, nervous or worried: people of color, any woman who values her body and her choices, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities…They’re afraid their voices will no longer be heard, or they believe they’re going to be silenced. … My pen has power — I’m thinking about that.” – Shonda Rhimes
Past recipients of this award include: Oprah Winfrey (2005), Steven Spielberg (2006), J.J. Abrams (2013), Dick Wolf (2008), and many more.
Rhimes, will have five series on ABC in the 2016-17 broadcast season: Grey’sAnatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, The Catch, and the latest addition Still Star-Crossed. She is also in development on her first comedy pilot Toast starring Jerrika Hinton. In addition to her existing ABC lineup, Rhimes received a pilot production commitment from ABC for a new legal series currently slated for next season. She is also in negotiations with Fox 2000 for an upcoming film revolving around the online personalities known as The Dare Divas, and teamed up with Jesse Williams, Norman Lear, and Common to produce a powerful new docu-series titled American Divided.