Shonda Rhimes on Writing for Television After the Election: “My Pen Has Power.”

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Shonda Rhimes

While accepting an honorary International Emmy Founders Award at the International Emmy’s earlier this week, Shonda Rhimes used her platform to address a growing fear about the future of diverse programming.

While Rhimes has always been hailed as a diversity hero of sorts, given the runaway success of shows like Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, she’s often shied away from superficial conversations about representation. She addressed the issue head one during her acceptance speech.

“People of color, any woman who values her body and her choices, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities. They’re afraid that their voices will no longer be heard and they believe they’re being silenced,” said Rhimes. “So I could never really think about it but now I’m really thinking about it: How big a reach television has. How it’s the most powerful source of communication and the world, how you see our faces and tell our stories and you care.”

Watch her speech and read the entire transcript below.

Thank you to the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for this honor.

It’s times like this that I’m reminded of how big a reach television has. It’s likely the most powerful source of communication in the world. We sit with you in your homes. You spend more time with many of my characters than you do with members of your own family. You see their faces. I tell their stories. And you care.

They hope, you hope. They dream, you dream. They rise, you rise. They fall, you fall. Three hundred million viewers in 67 countries. That comes with an enormous responsibility and I take it very seriously. Words have power. TV has power. My pen has power.

I don’t often think about that because I have not had to. People have asked me about diversity and I’ve chastised them. They’ve asked me about legacy, and I’ve ignored them. They talk to me about influence and I change the subject.

I’ve had the luxury of living in a free and fair and America where I’ve 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 going to live up to them is a question. 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 that their voices will no longer be heard and they believe they’re being silenced. So I could never really think about it but now I’m really thinking about it: How big a reach television has. How it’s the most powerful source of communication and the world, how you see our faces and tell our stories and you care.

We hope, you hope. We dream, you dream. We rise, you rise. We fall, you fall. Three hundred million viewers in 67 countries. Words have power, TV has power. My pen has power. I’m thinking about that. Thank you.


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