On Wednesday, Shonda Rhimes gave her first big interview in the press, since the now-infamous "angry black woman" review by New York Times chief television critic Alessandra Stanley was published. The Hollywood Reporter's Lacey Rose got to spend lots of time in Shondaland, Rhimes's production company, and ask Rhimes what it's like to be one of the most successful showrunners of the moment and what it took to get here. Here are the some of the highlights of the interview:
On why The New York Times review shouldn't be retracted:
In this world in which we all feel we're so full of gender equality and we're a postracial [society] and Obama is president, it's a very good reminder to see the casual racial bias and odd misogyny from a woman written in a paper that we all think of as being so liberal.
On negotiating your worth:
I wanted more control. I wanted the autonomy. And I wanted to feel like if I was making shows, I could sell them anywhere. I'm in a lovely position that whenever we pitch something, ABC buys it, which is great, but I also wanted the ability to say, "This is not for you."
On having it all and the sacrifices she makes:
I don't. ... If I am at home sewing my kids' Halloween costumes, I'm probably blowing off a rewrite I was supposed to turn in. If I am accepting a prestigious award, I am missing my baby's first swim lesson. If I am at my daughter's debut in her school musical, I am missing Sandra Oh's last scene ever being filmed at Grey's Anatomy. If I am succeeding at one, I am inevitably failing at the other. That is the trade-off.
On working with assholes (hint: she doesn't):
"We're always behind," she admits — the operation runs smoothly and the cast is tight-knit. "There are no Heigls in this situation," she says, choosing her words carefully. She adds later of her "no assholes" policy: "I don't put up with bullshit or nasty people. I don't have time for it."
On being asked about diversity:
I don't think you're asking the right person … You should ask the people who aren't doing it, why is it so hard for them?"