In an intrepid show of feminist badassery, television hitmaker Shonda Rhimes has decided to publicly and unapologetically own her success in the same way her male counterparts in Hollywood do: by doing a little bragging.
And why not? Rhimes is the showrunner (creator, head writer, and executive producer — but who’s keeping score?) who brought us such hits as Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, How to Get Away with Murder, and Scandal, and she just inked an epic deal with streaming giant Netflix.
Simply put, she wields a LOT of power.
So why has she been hiding her BIG BAWSE status? That’s what Rhimes herself wants to know, and it’s that realization that moved her to celebrate her power with the audience at Elle Magazine’s 25th Annual Women in Hollywood Celebration on Monday night.
Rhimes declared bluntly:
I am the highest-paid showrunner in television.
— ELLE Magazine (US) (@ELLEmagazine) October 16, 2018
While Rhimes didn’t name specific figures, she did admit that the reported $100 million figure being bandied about for her bold move from ABC to Netflix after 15 years of success was inaccurate and more lucrative than anyone previously knew.
Rhimes explained why she thought it was important to toot her own horn:
I tell you this for two reasons. One, I’m awesome. And I work with a ton of other equally awesome women. And women do not brag enough. The other day I came to this conclusion that men brag and women hide. Even when they don’t deserve to brag, men brag, like Trump and Kavanaugh. When men do deserve to brag they are good at it. They do it so well. Men brag about everything. Even things that aren’t things.
Fans weighed in online with praise:
You deserve every penny you make. You're Fabulous.
— Shawn Patrick Fitzpatrick (@ShawnPatrick48) October 16, 2018
That's very inspiring to hear! Imagine the types of obstacles she had to overcome to get here as a woman and POC! Bravo!
— Don'tUseMyTaxesOnYourFingWALL (@HopeLibertyLove) October 16, 2018
— ESSENCE (@Essence) October 16, 2018
— Eeni (@Eeniedit) October 16, 2018
In her speech, Rhimes referenced the backlash her Grey‘s Anatomy colleague, actor Ellen Pompeo, faced after discussing the fight and subsequent $20 million win that allowed her to become the highest-paid actress on a prime time drama.
Rhimes said of Pompeo:
A little while ago in an inspiring article, Ellen [Pompeo] told the world she was the highest paid woman in dramatic television. She did not hide. She bragged. She said she was powerful and she said she deserved it. And there was some blowback. And there should not have been. I have seen a thousand articles like that from men, but she’s a woman and she shouldn’t say things like that. She should hide. I was really mad on her behalf . . .
She also pointed out that showrunner Ryan Murphy (American Horror Story) not only celebrated his Netflix deal publicly but also disclosed the reported $300 million five-year contract.
Rhimes wants the same standard applied to her accomplishments, saying:
When Ryan, who is here, made his amazing deal with Netflix what did he do? He shouted his salary to the world and he did this gorgeous cover shoot for the Hollywood Reporter. He deserved every minute of it and I applauded him. When I made a deal with Netflix, I let them report my salary wrong in the press and I did as few interviews as possible. Then I put my head down and worked. In other words, I hid. I’m getting this award for inspiring other women and how can I inspire anyone if I’m hiding?
As usual, Shonda’s words resonated and inspired:
Powerful words from Shonda Rhimes at the Elle Women in Hollywood event.
— Kristyn Burtt (@KristynBurtt) October 17, 2018
— Wilson Shantae (@WilsonShantae1) October 16, 2018
Shonda Rhimes is really the GOAT. The lessons she teaches on the various -isms are so powerful and truly inspires me. I appreciate her work so much (although I don’t appreciate how she always puts me on an emotional roller coaster ).
— Christina Dumo (@ChristinaDumo) October 17, 2018
— TheNewF (@TheNewFmagazine) October 16, 2018
We hope Rhimes’ and Pompeo’s brand of BAWSE sauce catches on and we hear many more stories of women owning their accomplishments as comfortably as men do.