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Shonda Rhimes Gets Another Whitewashed Show

Shonda Rhimes Gets Another Whitewashed Show

From the desk of The Hollywood Reporter, Shonda Rhimes has landed another production deal, this time with the Fox Network. Through ABC studios and her company Shonda Shingles, Fox will air a new coming of age dramedy called Wildwood. The show revolves around an ’80’s teen who pretends to be an adult in order to work at a bar on the Jersey Shore.

With Shonda’s track record you may be wondering if the lead character is a person of color? Well, allow me to solve the mystery, I can assure you, she’s not.

More from the Hollywood Reporter on Wildwood:

Over the course of the summer, she learns to balance obligations with her chaoitic Irish-Italian family with her new secret life filled with romance, intrigue and ’80s music.

Umm…did black folk not exist in her world in the 80’s, because where I lived there were a lot of Care-Free Curls and Michael Jackson clones to go around. And before some of you say, wait, how do you know…basically, if the Irish-Italian reference doesn’t clue you in to where this show is going, I don’t know what will. The series will play out in hour long segments, with Fox signing on to a pilot commitment. Before I say more, I have to admit, if this was any other black woman in show business, I would probably be ecstatic but unfortunately I cannot be. It’s not that I don’t respect Shonda’s hustle, much like I respect (to a degree) Tyler’s…however, neither of these folks do much in the way of progressive storytelling involving people of color (namely black folk). When Pierre Bagley and my fellow panelists during the Chicago Int’l Film Festival’s Black Perspectives event spoke on media literacy, I couldn’t help but think about what was said and question this type of (excuse my French) bullshit!

How can I stand up and clap my hands for Shonda Rhimes when she has amassed so much Network television power and yet, can’t bring one semi-realistic and/or in depth portrayal of a black woman (or black man for that matter) to the small screen? Hello, Shonda but do you not realize black women can be just as neurotic, cutesey, fun, romantic, lovable and all those things Network television loves to heap onto the masses and call it entertainment?

Okay, okay maybe I’m bringing the wrong argument here because let’s face it, NBC (the network where anything good goes to die) tried to bring all that romantic, cutesy lovable shit in the form of Undercovers. We saw how that ended. I guess the real point is that, a person as talented and successful at what she does (as Shonda), should be able to write a show with a lead character who is a black woman and has as much layered depth and intrigue as any other character on a good network television show. I understand that Rhimes may be limited because she has not forayed into the grittier, more progressive land of cable television. It seems she’s made solely for prime-time but I can say that the day I decided to sit down and watch an episode of Grey’s Anatomy (many years ago), I realized what I was watching was sheer good entertainment!

I gave Miss Rhimes one (Grey’s Anatomy) to get her off the ground, then two with Private Practice but…*ahem* really…where are we headed now? Her new drama with Kerry Washington has yet to prove itself as something that will break the Shonda mold (or is it a curse?), and at this point, I’m so tired of traveling with her down White middle-upper class land, I don’t even have the energy to invest in another off the grid portrayal of a woman of color on her show(s).

I can only hope that someone out there, whether it be Issa Rae or some up-and-coming young talent, steps into the ring soon. I don’t care if it’s another web series or a television series, I just want some good story arcs with characters I can look at and go, wow, that woman ‘could be me.’ I don’t see that in Meredith Grey or any of Shonda’s female leads…sadly, not even Kerry’s whose character I suspect will be pushed to the background once her show starts airing.

So now that I’ve gotten that off my chest, where do we go from here? Do we continue to support Rhimes’ work. Maybe that’s up to each of us individually to decide but I know for me, I’m pretty much over it. I’m looking onto the horizon and will gladly kiss my computer screen when the link to my full season of Awkward Black Girl lands in my inbox. I think MAD TV had it right years ago with Pretty White Kids With Problems, give me ABG anyday over “Pretty [Dull] White People With Problems.”

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Just seeing this one, but I can’t agree with this article.

For one, you’re criticizing a show that has not even being cast, simply because it’s clear that the lead will be white. So? It might be wise and see who else fills that characters world before getting all up in arms.

Shonda Rhimes creates diverse series with awesome roles for people of all colors- even the supporting characters. Maybe you just want more roles for black people, but I want to see more representation for EVERYONE (black, Asian, Latin, etc), and her shows do a good job of bringing everyone together.

It’s cool if you want to criticize her for not doing more, but honestly, she would be one of the last on my list to attack. She creates QUALITY work for people of all ethnicities.

Give your props to Tyler, T.D., and whoever else you want, but I would much rather be a well-written and dynamic supporting character in a Shonda Rhimes project than a neck-twirling, idiotic, buffoon of a lead (with terrible dialogue to boot) in a Tyler Perry one. Maybe that’s just me.

And for people upset about Scandal being a mid-season replacement, let’s not forget that Grey’s Anatomy was one as well, and many other successful shows started that way. Shows premiere mid-season for a variety of reasons. On the one hand, the network could be stalling ooooor, they might be holding the show precious, waiting for other dramas to falter and fade away so they can debut the show to less competition. ABC has been the most diverse network in recent years; I doubt they’re scared to air a show created by the hottest showrunner in town and starring a movie star with crossover appeal.


@Neziah (Waves) Hey! I’m usually late to the party so I’ve never mentioned it on here but I see you in posts on this site too! I guess we both have unique enough names to stand out, to each other anyway. Lol, for sure it was meant to be. :)


Your completely off base. See these kind of comments always come from folks who are not making a living in the industry and are on the outside looking in. Like if I had a million dollars I would do this. Yeah right “If you could you would” huh. At the end of the day she is a black woman in hollywood and she is making her living. I know your kind, you think because you speak at TV/Film panels and giving forums such as blogs to voice your opinion on things that make you feel that your “in the know”. You proably have one or two imdb credits and have never really been invitied to sit at the bosses table to discuss real business. You don’t know what goes on behind closed doors or if Shonda is fighting the good fight to help other blacks get in the game. Thats the problem with us black folks we hate on our kind because we feel our folks are not doing enough..Obama anyone. Give these folks a break the problem is often bigger and scarier than you can possibly think. Shonda is in the game we all wish to be apart of and don’t think for a second that your gonna win on your terms with the machine in place unless your tyler P. We need to celebrate our folk when they do good. You need to be in the room or a lil bit more informed before you make these sweeping statements.


I’m SO happy I decided to check this post again.


Thank you for your post. It is important to understand the barriers that exist, and limitations placed on Black people who are in prominent positions that Sondra is in.

Although I don’t agree with Monique’s post, I don’t think it was necessarily wrong for her to post this. As another poster said, she started a dialogue that we need to have anyway.

Ultimately, establishing the barriers Sondra Rhimes faces in bringing dramas with predominantly Black casts to broadcast television should not be the end of the conversation, but should be considered the beginning of a new one.


I’ve read that Rhimes originally wanted Isaiah Washington to play Dr. Derek Shepherd, but the network nixed the idea so there…

Mike C.

I just spoke to the producer of New Jack City and upcoming A Streetcar Named Desire starring Blair Underwood. I asked him about what Shonda could do to highlight more black protagonists on her shows. He said it is up to the networks ultimately. She can pitch all the pre-dom black shows, but the studio heads will reject it almost every time. I suggest more op-ed pieces actually contain industry sources to what Shonda is or isn’t doing. Otherwise, it’s defamation.

Monique is so way off target with her anger towards Shonda it’s not even funny. Really it’s sad, because the woman doesn’t deserve it. I guess it’s easier than daring to write the head of ABC’s name in her post. He might actually make a call to the owner of IndieWire huh?

Willie Lynch lives.


This woman has done more to give black actors jobs than anyone I know of. Please leave her alone.


@ Kelea

I see you on IMDB all the time and now I see you on here. I think we were meant for eachother. Lol, I’m just kidding with you.


@Cherish I feel you hit the nail on the head with your assessment of the situation with Taye Digg’s show. Especially considering his response to it’s reception. It makes a lot of sense to me. He let us know what was on his mind and it wasn’t necessarily, well not first and foremost delivering a goid show it was appeasing the masses, a compromise if you will. .

Good topic.



“My concern is, Shonda is just reproducing white power she’s not challenging it.”

Man, I miss feeling militant. Maybe my age, or now I’m so firmly embedded in “the system.”

Look, you are absolutely right. I’m just not sure what course of action she can take at the moment. Yes, she may not want to change the system, but how do YOU know that? How do you know she hasn’t tried?

Can anyone in the biz give a little more background on the position Rhimes is in? If she has a show where she wants to cast Black leads and ABC says no, can she take the show to another network? Or is she under contractual obligation to write only for ABC? If she breaks her contracts, can she lose her position on Greys Anatomy or Private Practice?

I agree with LeonRaymond that we are begging White people for something they just have no interest in and we need to go another route. We also have to face is that as our population percentage in the USA is shrinking, we will become less relevant to mainstream America. Hip hop, our last great contribution to American culture, is no longer under our control.

Black Americans better look beyond her towards the diaspora and creates alignments there if we want to continue to be culturally and socially relevant.



“My concern is, Shonda is just reproducing white power she’s not challenging it.”

Man, I miss feeling militant. Maybe my age, or now I’m so firmly embedded in “they system.”

Look, you are absolutely right. I’m just not sure what course of action she can take at the moment. Yes, she may not want to change the system, but how do YOU know that? How do you know she hasn’t tried?

Can anyone in the biz give a little more background on the position Rhimes is in? If she has a show where she wants to cast Black leads and ABC says no, can she take the show to another network? Or is she under contractual obligation to write only for ABC? If she breaks her contracts, can she lose her position on Greys Anatomy or Private Practice?

I agree with LeonRaymond that we are begging White people for something they just have no interest in and we need to go another route. We also have to face is that as our population percentage in the USA is shrinking, we will become less relevant to mainstream America. Hip hop, our last great contribution to American culture, is no longer under our control.

Black Americans better look beyond her towards the diaspora and creates alignments there if we want to continue to be culturally and socially relevant.



So even though its the network stopping her, you still blame her. NICE.

Are you in the meetings where she pitches projects? Do you know what projects she has or has not pitched? Which ones rejected and ones excepted?

You don’t, but you blame her and then out the other side of your mouth talk “unity and community” talk. That’s a contradiction. It seems you just want to yell “sellout” just because she hasn’t worked a miracle for you.


@Zeus I never said Tyler Perry was perfect and I heard about the problems he had with the interns. However, Tyler Perry is still the only black power broker player in Hollywood that is HELPING BLACKS. Tyler owns his own studio, he also hires black actors for lead roles in his television and movies. Tyler makes black people the focus of his stories and work.

I don’t see Shonda or Oprah doing that.

Notice I said LEAD roles, and he’s giving representation to other actors of colour as well. I don’t see white Hollywood creating leading role vehicles for actors of colour. I don’t see the mainstream developing young black actors like they do white actors.

At least Tyler is DOING SOMETHING positive and he’s making Hollywood take notice.
I know on Shadow and Act people here want to attack Tyler and say his work is not up to their standards. However, for millions of Tyler’s black, white, Asian, and Native American fans he delivers.

Shonda Rhimes cares about herself and well all I got to say is I don’t respect the woman. She hasn’t done much for black women. Yeah Kerry Washington is the star of Scandal but why wasn’t Scandal in the fall lineup? Again, Rhimes gives ONE black woman a leading role on mainstream television that is not progress.

LeonRaymond Mitchell

I can’t for the life of me disagree with Monique’s rant or the theme of it, after listening to all the responses which are all dead on also, I have to say that the mere fact that we are having a serious and at times temperature raising debate about one show in particular shows the total sad state of Blacks and Latinos and people of color in TV and Film, I know for a fact the flag has been planted here. and No matter what we might say about the fact that a few Black actors get marginal roles it is still Christmas time on The Plantation. Isaiah Washington may have a real strong point, why do we expect white folk to care a rats ass about putting us in Networks or in films ,as when they rise and shine in the morning we are not at any point on their minds, they don’t truly care about our lives and don’t care to reproduce our life stories at all unless we are willing to fit into stereotypes. Not one person’s post here has been wrong. We are asking for white to care about us in a way that is impossible. I think we must now recreate our own programming. I don’t think we have any other choice in the matter Monique touched on it in the past many times and her post and I HATE TO SAY RANT cause it has a place and a point but she is dead on the money, she calling attention to a building on fire and in which we are trying to calm the flames where on the other side every one has vacated and is waving safely from a far away distance. We need to go another route. We have no choice, we can’t ask those stuck on the island and digging away in TV to join us when sooner or later they will have to set a life raft for their own sake. We can debate this until the moon falls or until the KKK buys BET it won’t make a difference we must make a difference it sounds large and huge task but now what choice do we have we have been pushed to the wall by folks smiling at us while they do it!!


There’s always BET, TV One, and Bounce (or TP’s channel – he can’t create 24/7 programming by himself… although I know he’ll try). Something to think about when contract renewal time comes up.


Are you kidding?
You look to her shows for a realistic portrayal (or semi-realistic one) of black people?
When she hasn’t given real or semi-real portrayals of ANYONE on her shows?

You need to move past the fact that she has a career about being in entertainment, not a career in educating America about black people or providing uplifiting perfect characterizations of black people.



“If ABC was smart they would give Shonda more power because she obviously knows what she is doing.”

But they aren’t smart. That’s the point. Don’t penalize Shonda for them being dumb as hell. Is that fair?

When working with the big three networks, the chances are smaller for change and especially small to happen as quick as you (or I) wish.

Again, i think you would see her with more women of color in lead roles if she went to a cable channel but she has a deal with ABC. If you want her to change the game at ABC, not cable, then she first has to build an audience. That means hitting ALL audiences. Like it or not. That takes time.

Thus is why we say, indie is best but then you got to deal with haters and the whole non-unity debate.


@ Zeus and Cherish I understand that Shonda is not Oprah but she does have some power. I just think Monique’s post was excellent.

Okay, Shonda can’t change the world BUT I think with her power I do expect more from her.

It is the same way with Oprah, she’s done a lot but the OWN network is still too white for my liking. I won’t tune into the OWN network because I know the programming isn’t geared towards me.

Now Zeus I think Shonda should DEMAND more from the network after ll she made that network millions of dollars with Grey’s Anatomy and Private Practice.Shonda has done so much she deserves more from ABC.

If ABC was smart they would give Shonda more power because she obviously knows what she is doing.

Okay, Kerry Washington is getting Scandal but again, a mid season start is not that great it seems ABC did not want to take a chance having it in the fall lineup.

My concern is, Shonda is just reproducing white power she’s not challenging it. If I was in Shonda’s position I would DEMAND more from ABC and if they did not give me what I want I would go to another network!

If someone doesn’t take a stand and challenge racism then nothing changes. I am tired of turning on the television and seeing some middle class white woman crying about not having a boyfriend or husband. Most shows on TV ignore women of colour and men of colour.

BET plays it too safe with their tired and boring sitcoms that just engender the Cosby Show.
. We SHOULD expect more from Shonda Rhimes and no Shonda should not get praise for making more shows about white folks. If Shonda was some unknown or someone with limited power than maybe I should be more sympathetic. However, Shonda does have power and I just feel she’s not doing enough.

Okay, Grey’s Anatomy has a lot of black people in supporting roles so what? I want to see black people in LEAD roles.


I’m happy for her.
I hope she will incorporate blacks in the show somewhere along the line.

I understand she couldn’t have gotten the show on the air w a full black cast…….. she knew this. so let s be happy she is getting in the door…. perhaps one day she will open others.


Folk like Orville will always be frustrated because they expect miracles.

Its easy for YOU to say take a CHANCE when its not YOUR career. Easier to throw darts from the sideline instead of getting in the game yourself.

The networks play it safe. They write the checks. We all know, whomever writes the checks, makes the rules. Fair or not. Just like your day job.

Orville is expecting this sista to kick the door in at ABC, slam a script own on the Board of Directors table and say “Make this or else!” LOL!

That’s wonderland bullshit. She would be fired and then what game would she be able to change being blackballed? Again, easy to gamble with a career when its not your own. The game must be played and then change happens.

Reminds me of how some black folk expect President Obama to change the economics of the entire black community in two years. That, along with Rhimes DICTATING to ABC Programming execs what cast they WILL have are both pipe dreams.

The answer is CABLE TV. They take more risks than the big networks.


{{Taye Diggs had a show a decade ago I think or a few years ago but it failed.
The reason is why? Nobody watched.}}

{{Why didn’t more black people SUPPORT Vivica and Taye Diggs when they had shows on mainstream American television?}}

I don’t remember Vivica’s show, but I do remember Taye’s.
Here’s my honest opinion on that:

That show had a female co-lead that was mixed-race, I assume. Well, I was turned off by it. I didn’t really boycott, I watched for a few minutes, and ultimately stopped watching, as I wasn’t invested or committed to it.

Casting that mixed-race actress was basically saying “anyone but a Black woman” will do, and it was a message that was so blatant and obvious, I remember feeling insulted as a Black woman. And you want my eye-balls for your ads and ratings points with this blatant move? No, you’re not getting it.

Now, before anyone (AV) starts spouting “Black women hate interracial relationships”, I believe the producers SHOULD have cast a White female as the lead. I would have thought nothing of it back then, especially one with better acting skills or had some name recognition.

They were afraid to cast a White woman opposite a Black man, and that cowardly move cost them. If they had taken a chance back then, the show may have had a better chance for success. And that success would have been beneficial to all blacks (men an women), as more doors would have opened for us. We may be having a different conversation today.



You brought a good point re SCANDAL – how it wasn’t placed in the Fall lineup. But I think this goes back to the limited power Shonda Rhimes has. This argument (about not casting black leads or writing for a predominantly Black cast) applies to Oprah more than Shonda. In the end, the networks, from what I read, do have ultimately control over casting. I think you and Monique are over-estimating Shonda’s power here.

I think Ms. Rhimes and GREYS ANATOMY is the ultimate symbol of “post-racial America.” Yes, there are Black co-stars, and she has many Black guest-stars, more than any other show IMO. But they ultimately are still in the background and supporting White leads. And I don’t think she is completely at fault. She has so many Black guest stars and interracial couples featured on GREYS, looks she’s is really trying under these difficult circumstances.

{{I think it is sad in a lot of ways that black people and other people of colour are NOT leads on mainstream American television. Why not? It is the year 2011, yet it seems black television was more progressive in the 1980s and 1990s than in the past decade. }}

I think a cultural shift took place in the late 1990s in both Black and White communities that should be examined in a different post. In the 1970’s thru 1990’s, there weren’t only more Black shows on air, there were more DIVERSE shows. From Sanford and Son, Cosby Show, Jeffersons, Family Matters, these shows featured both middle class and working class families, different facets of Black life.

That is what I find frustrating about BET and “Reed between the Lines.” All that talk about positivity, I feel like we are reinventing the wheel. We have been there, done that.

We are partly responsible for this. I feel like the black community has been conditioned to see only certain facets ourselves on TV. It has partly to do with hip-hop culture, and its all-consuming power where now it has become THE definition of Black culture, rather than just another facet of it.

As Hip hop progressed, more Black people went to college in the late 80s and moved to middle class status but we became self-conscious and even started feeling guilty about our success. All this talk about Cosby Show not being “realistic” came around this time.

There is more going on here that hopefully we can expand on in the future. But ultimately we have denied ourselves reflections of us in the full human existence.


I think people are IGNORING the deeper issue Monique is talking about and that is why can’t black actors be in the lead on American television? Why does the actor of colour whether Asian or black got to be the sidekick, or the best friend? Why can’t an actor of colour be the star? People talk about Scandal but again it was NOT included in the fall lineup. Don’t people wonder WHY? And remember the media isn’t exactly receptive to blacks being in leading roles on American television either. I am not saying the big networks haven’t tried. I remember Vivica Fox had a show last decade called City of Angels or something like that I think it lasted one or two seasons. But it just seems like the networks don’t promote shows or give shows a black lead. Taye Diggs had a show a decade ago I think or a few years ago but it failed.
The reason is why? Nobody watched. So in a way the audience which includes black people are to blame. Why didn’t more black people SUPPORT Vivica and Taye Diggs when they had shows on mainstream American television? The networks such as BET make the stereotypical black sitcoms because black people support those shows in the ratings. I think the Game is the only black television show that is unique on TV today. It gets a lot of support from black people.


I think Monique points are valid we like to put black people with power in Hollywood on a pedestal. However, what has Shonda Rhimes done for black actors?

I am not saying Shonda Rhimes has a responsibility to the black community because she doesn’t. But it does speak volumes that she seems to be focused on just getting more white viewers and audiences. People can say well Shonda is just playing the game but isn’t it sad that despite Rhimes power even she can’t really make a difference?

Who knows if SCANDAL will even get on television? And why wasn’t SCANDAL in the fall lineup?

It is the same thing with Oprah people put Oprah on a pedestal yet the OWN network has a majority of white programming.

Shonda is just following the formula without really taking a CHANCE. People mention Scandal BUT it will be a midseason replacement. ABC didn’t even have the guts to put Scandal in their fall lineup. Shonda Rhimes has a lot of power but it seems even with her power she has to follow the status quo in Hollywood which is get white viewers. I think it is sad in a lot of ways that black people and other people of colour are NOT leads on mainstream American television. Why not? It is the year 2011, yet it seems black television was more progressive in the 1980s and 1990s than in the past decade.

Even with Shonda’s power it seems to me she only cares about advancing her own career and making money. But I think it is sad though that’s all she cares about.

Sure, Chanda Wilson and James Pickens are on Grey’s Anatomy but they are secondary characters. For years people were upset about Chanda Wilson’s character because she was the black mammy of Grey’s Anatomy. Shonda created Private Practice which again was a success on ABC but again the star was a white actress and yes although Audra McDonald and Taye Diggs are on the show they are secondary characters.

ojie king

I really dont know what you are talking about . Greys Anatomy employs the most diverse array of actors on Television. The main cast is mixed of Chinese, Blacks and latin american people, how many network shows have that mix of colour? Not only that, if you look at the guest stars on the shows week by week, it is always mixed IT DOES NOT HAVE TO BE ONLY BLACK PEOPLE YOU KNOW!!!!. The fact of the matter is you cant have it all. Excuse me, but we should clap for Shonda Rhimes for her achievement in this tightroped industry not just as a woman but as an African American Women to have not just one or two but three shows (Scandal starts mid-season) on the air of a major network, this is not cable, but broadcast network. Not to mention the kind of material she gives her actors to work with?? Please We always complain that Black people find it hard to make it in this industry with quality stuff. BUt she has done so and we should look to her for inspiration and try to emulate her. HOW MANY NETWORK SHOWS HAS A BLACK FEMALE LEAD?? HOW MANY?? VANESSA WILLIAMS IS BEING WASTED IN DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES AND TARAJI P.HENSON IS NOT THE MAIN FOCUS ON PERSONS OF INTEREST. SO I THINK YOU SHOULD REALLY TRY TO RE-THINK BECAUSE SHE IS SOING BIG THINGS!!!! NO OFFENCE HALF OF THE MOVIES YOU POST NEVER SEE THE LIGHT OF DAY, SO WE SHOULD CELEBRATE THE PERSON WHOSE WORK HAS SPANNED NUMBERS OF SEASONS.


In all seriousness, I may not agree with everything Monique says, but it’s her opinion and she can rant if she wants to. Shonda has made some questionable decisions. Maybe Monique had to get some things off her chest. She’s a writer here and has all the right to her op-ed piece.

We can all agree to disagree, and maybe Shonda’s new show with Kerry will prove some of us wrong, and the author of this post can re-think some things, but until then, this is how she feels about it. You can debate but don’t get mad at her. Jeesh..*shrug*

LeonRaymond Mitchell

To Sandra , you would not be a Hater or an Angry woman, maybe a insightful woman that brings razor sharp new view of many topics and a vast knowledge of film making as it relates to many issues of People of color and cross cultural situations that affect all or so many of us!

Don’t give in to that many of us might value and will value what you have to say

Be you stand with your flag and I will stand right behind you with mine





My opinion on the matter is this…

***There’s a sudden knock at the door****

[b]I would love to join in the discussion, but I have just been handed the memo informing me that all black women who voice their opinions/concerns on a matter are both HATERS and ANGRY BLACK WOMEN. So nevermind…[/b]

***Ties hair in scarf. Takes a bite of her bacon grease biscuits and begins scrubbing the floor while humming Negro Spirituals and wearing a non-threatening smile as mandated by the post-racial America Thought Police.*****


“To the rest (or rather some) of you, how many times are you going to bring up SCANDAL when I mentioned Kerry Washington and the show several times in my post? But here again, I’ll say the name of the show SCANDAL, SCANDAL, SCANDAL. Much like this comment section is becoming.” Umm…There’s a reason the comment section has become about SCANDAL.
First of all, What are you TALKING about? You don’t mention the name “scandal” once if your post, let alone “SEVERAL” times. And to just assume the character will get pushed to the background? That’s like saying the character of “Raymond” will be pushed to the background on “Everyone Loves Raymond”….the show is ABOUT kerry’s character, Olivia, based on a real life black woman Judy Smith. How would that character get pushed to the background? You want depth of character and a woman “who could be you”…Olivia Pope in Scandal. It’s just so bizarre for you to write this article without knowing about Scandal. By the way, the 2nd lead of the show…Columbus Short.

LeonRaymond Mitchell

Thank you Carlton Jordan, Thank you so much, ” Black people need to open their minds…its not an all Black world.” that statement says it all, I as a Black Film Maker do and produce Latino Films and enjoy the deep camaraderie. I make these films in my journey to make artistic projects simply cause Black folk do not support my talented ideas but question my doing Latino films with dismay, I want to do all films with actors of all cultures if the character deems so. I have 2 top profile projects I am working on with top talent attached but I give thanks to my Latino Brothers and sisters who gave me the chance and trust in me, where my people were no where to be found, and I see it’s not at all an all Black world, the talent base among African Americans is huge and there are so many like myself and that talent base needs to be giving the chance if Black folk would stick together and rise we can all be doing great quality projects and then it would not matter what any body else does network or other wise cause we would create our pipeline for Film and TV but because we don’t stick together we are so easily separated and cut down or out. Shonda is not a problem, we can respond to that show if you like it or not by coming together and producing other voices but we don’t. I can not see a future that in which we will. And there needs to be a Latino Shadow and Act cause from what I see Latino’s will get no respect on it cause as far it is and desired on Shadow and Act it is an all Black world!


How can you write this article and not even mention SCANDAL?? Her NEXT show has a black female lead.

LeonRaymond Mitchell

And truly as far as Shonda, I have not really embraced the show since Isaiah Washington left or was forced off, I sort of was angry at that cause I felt they all ganged up on him and some folks got rewards by Rating him out to Massa!

Carlton Jordan

Whoever wrote this is ill informed. Shonda has given so many Black actors roles on Grey’s Anatomy she should get an NAACP award. I am glad that a woman of color is able to navigate and operate in Hollywood with quality programming and give many people of color opportunities in front of and behind the camera. THANK GOD for Shonda bringing real dynamic Black characters to the small screen, all you complainers like the angry woman who wrote this article can watch Meet The Browns. I’m though. Black people need to open their minds…its not an all Black world.




Got this online. It’s when he opened his studio a few years ago.

Mind you they are speaking of BLACK writers. It’s well known he underpays the folk working for him while he keeps most the profits.

Google “Tyler Perry WGA” and see what comes up and then tell me about how he puts black folks first. Underpays them first is more accurate. This goes back as far as his theater days and continues.

As far as Rhimes goes, ABC has the last word on casting. She has built her audience now she is branded enough to get more projects with blacks in lead roles. SCANDAL being the first step. As we all know, its a game and she is playing it. I don’t think we should throw out the usual “uncle tom” bullshit because she is becoming successful.

We need to stop penalizing black producers who don’t always black folk in front of the camera. We throw them into a creative box. What black person quota should they have?


I haven’t really tuned in for a full ep of any of her shows since Isaiah Washington left Gray’s…however, this post is a little harsh. She probably employs more actors of color in non-stereotypical roles than any other TV producer in this century.

I see your point on the unrealistic portrayals of her black female characters, but are her white females any better? Also, I don’t expect her to create black-focused entertainment, because that doesn’t really seem to be her thing. She apparently likes telling race-neutral stories, and it seems to be serving her well. Her characters are mostly racially interchangeable, and I can’t hate on her for that.


LeonRaymond Mitchell,

Send me what you got. You can find my email address in the “contact” section of the blog.

Y’all have fun, I’m off to an event!!!!!! *waves*


Monique, wait a second, didn’t Shonda make a show on ABC for Kerry Washington called Scandal? I heard ABC will air the show in the mid season or something. I do agree with Monique’s analysis to a certain extent she is right here is Shonda Rhimes a black woman with a lot of power in Hollywood which is rare her TV shows get the greenlight. However, Rhimes is also a business woman and she obviously believes she needs to appeal to white America to make money. Blacks aren’t even the largest minority group in the USA hispanics have replaced African Americans. The white population is over 70% of the USA total population so of course Rhimes wants to make money off white folks. It is the same thing with Oprah and her OWN network. It is all blackface, Oprah knows where the money is and so does Shonda.

And this is why I RESPECT Tyler Perry SO MUCH! People talk crap about Tyler on Shadow and Act BUT Tyler ALWAYS puts BLACK PEOPLE FIRST! Tyler is the most powerful man in Hollywood according to Forbes Magazine and that is quite an accomplishment he made over $130 million dollars last year. Tyler’s movies are successful at the box office and his TV shows make money so do his travelling plays and DVD sales.

So when people bash Tyler I hope they remember that he is doing something Shonda and Oprah are NOT he is giving black actors leading roles and work. Tyler is also doing something Oprah and Shonda are not doing he doesn’t care about white America.


CareyCarey, you do not want to rumble with me, I’ll put ya down like a lame dog.

Now, it seems like you are keeping up with the podcast, so I thank you for listening but does that mean you’ll stop emailing the S&A crew about being on the show? Please say, “yes”.

LeonRaymond Mitchell

Thank you Monique for the response, I felt great about seeing the coverage for Miss Bala, there are others, Please give light to Web Series to Cable Series -The Pale Blue Light Directed by Eddy Duran, Musical Chairs, Produced by Joey Deido, and also Tio Papi, Produced by Joey Deido, all Latino theme projects anf there’s more, and let me be clear cause the only agenda I have is to get this thing that (and let me be careful) smashed and that is Cliques and some Black folks live by that and do not open their Hearts and Minds to other projects simply cause they don’t know them or hang out with them, or that they are “Cool” From their Black friends. I just want the Latino film makers actors-producers to get some light cause they powerfully talented. And I think right here due to the post and Blog and or site we can come together and create a Network of serious talent to do many many projects. Web Series, TV, series, Films etc. Hollywood is one thing good and bad But what we could create is a digest of talent of so much people of color. We should not call it Black Hollywood cause that is just unfair to all the other cultures we would encompass into it. Like I said, I think Julie Dash is still one of the most awesome filmmakers as well as Ava DuVernay they should be our guide post going forward but we need to do this cause there is far too much talent sitting on the sidelines and take my word for it any anger or bitterness that might be directed at you is mis-directed and why cause it is all out of frustration. Cause there can not get there voices out there, there projects off the ground, there scripts written or re-written, that is stuff my production company as well as others do and we need to come together and create so that the next time we are discussing what we all are working on and it would have started right here on this post on this site!!!!


When I saw this post last night with 0 comments I was going to respond with one word – DUCK!!! LOL.

I don’t pretend to know the ins and outs of the business but from the several interviews I’ve read of Shonda Rhimes, I say Monique has a very valid point. The word that repeatedly comes up about Ms. Rhimes and her rise to the top is race neutrality in scripts and in hiring – meaning (for S&A purposes) that none of her characters were written as black and none of the actors had to black. Only exception now is Scandal but that’s supposedly based on a real black woman. So I guess that’s something if Shonda didn’t allow that to be filled in a race neutral manner. If Grey’s or Private Practice has multicultural casts (two blacks and an asian woohoo!), the suggestion is that it wasn’t because Shonda wanted blacks or Asians or whatever but that the person just had to fit the role perfectly. IOW, either of those shows could have been lily white and as long as she felt the actors “fit” she wouldn’t have said or done a thing in protest. Can’t say I like that stance. I can imagine how few black people would be working in the corporate world today if that type of hiring policy was in effect immediately after segregation. Let’s not pretend there’s a love affair with POC actors in 2011.

There’s so many issues swimming around in the background, it’d take a series of books to touch on all of them… and most of them we’ve encountered and still encounter whenever we talk about Oprah. You can only use the “she’s just trying to make as much money as possible before turning her attentions back to us” excuse for so long, esp. when you finally come to the conclusion that it was NEVER about us. Unfortunately, just because Shonda’s a black female doesn’t mean she wanted to do anything to improve black access in the entertainment world. Maybe all she wanted is to be the boss and make a butt-load of money. She might hire a few black interns here and there but will she write scripts with a predominantly black cast when everyone knows we need great black writers to write our untold stories…and if she did, would the mainstream’s respect for her plummet to new lows even if her characters are rich, complex, and non-stereotypical? “Black” doesn’t have to be negative but as far as some people are concerned, it’s the mark of someone who can’t cut it in the real [caucasian] world. Same argument against going to an HBCU. And I guess it also plays a part in why some blacks get angry if I say certain great actors had core black audiences first and it wouldn’t hurt for current actors to do the same. That’s not an insult or an indication of poor quality. If you think it is, seek help.

At this point in her career and despite the fact she’s working within the system, you expect more but looks like we’re not going to get it… at least for the moment. Yes, hang your hat on Issa Rae and the future black writers and Bernie Macs out there who aren’t afraid of race and don’t favor white respect and white profits over representing their versions of black life.

Where do we go from here? Encourage and fund those indie writers!! It doesn’t matter if blacks support Shonda or not. She’ll be fine either way.

Carlton Jordan

Ha Ha @CareyCarey. Shonda is doing her thing, and the haters are mad she doesn’t have to ask your permission to be successful.


Can I just say that I LOVE this post and think there should be at least one post like this everyday on Shadow and Act with the state black Hollywood is in. Sometimes y’all have a tendency to walk the line instead of jumping in head first. The writer of this post jumped in head first and I LOVE IT!

This is the same way I feel about Shonda Rhimes and it’s crazy that she has all of this “power” on television yet still not enough “power” to work on some bold quality black themed shows. Will Smith has the same issues when it comes to movies (not involving his kids).

It’s almost like the white man is the puppet master because these two individuals seem to think they can’t do anything for blacks in entertainment because then they’ll lose all of their “power.” This is why I will forever have love for Dr. Cosby because he never let them stop him from doing what the hell he wanted to do and see how he changed the game for us.

I just wish the rest of these black so-called power players in Hollywood would grow a freakin spine and quit thinking that you can’t be great portraying blacks in lead roles when shows like the Wire and Luther proves this shit wrong each and every time.


“I think it’s safe to say this will be a topic for the next podcast? :) ~ Zeus

Well, since Monique’s “voice” is the “loudest”and “longest” opinion in/on the podcast, her point of view has generally been the championed viewpoint/opinions in the past podcasts. She has the mic in her hand 75 % of the show (give or take 10%). More importantly, dissenting voices rarely see the light of day. I mean, callers quickly get the Sandman’s hook and the other hosts (and invited guests) are generally in agreement with Monique( that’s why she invites them). Consequently, if that trend continues, there will not be a “meaty”, 2 sided, and thought provoking discussing on this topic or any topics that find themselves in the podcast.

Carlton Jordan

and whomever wrote this needs to never write an op-ed again. can s&a get some educated writers that know what they’re talking about?

Kevin Sorrell

I’m not a viewer of Grey’s Anatomy or Private Practice, but i have followed Ms. Rhimes’ career. And I’ve been extremely disappointed with what I’ve seen (or, rather, HAVEN’T seen). I understand there are racial pressures in TV – the whole “too many Black folks equals a Black show and white folks won’t watch a Black show” assertion – but I don’t know how Ms. Rhimes can continue to create these shows when she’s in a position so many of us dream of being in. Unless, of course, she doesn’t know she’s Black – and I definitely don’t think that. There’s more at play here; I just wish I could have a conversation with Ms. Rhimes and get her side of things.

On the other hand, I’m doing my part to to bring a bit more balance to Black images. Like many other Black content creators, I’m turning to the web, and am in pre-production on a new web series, The Life and Times of Abigail Waller (; also on Facebook). We’re just starting the process, so if you like, join us on the ground floor and watch the show come to fruition. It might not be network television, but as Monique alluded to, the internet is now the place to go to see fresh, original visions of us BY us.

I guess the saying was correct. The revolution will not be televised. But it will be streamed.


{{{ By KAM on October 14, 2011 }}}

Wait. Are you THAT Kam from EurWeb?

Anyway….Shoda knows who her “core audience” is. :) She has become successful by understanding that shows have a greater chance of success with white leads and mostly white casts. Unfortunately. But I’m sure she was excited to give Kerry the lead in the upcoming show after paying all of those dues.


Great post Monique! I am sick to death of token Blacks on shows even if they are a well written character and/or produced by a Black man/woman. Why can’t Whites (or audiences in general) tolerate a well written show featuring a mostly POC cast and one that doesn’t fall into the usual stereotypes? I would definitely support a TV version of something like Awkward Black Girl. I’m itching for a reason to turn on my TV most nights and don’t have many.


Hey Monique…how DARE YOU ask for a show featuring prominent BLACK characters! What you’re asking for will cause the rapture! You should be happy with those crumbs you get girl. Those are great crumbs and if you put them together you can make a whole meal from it! *sarcasm*

James Madison

It would be great if she, as executive producer could get more people of color in front of the camera.

Yes, I believe there is pressure but how much are you pushing back and at what point are you caving in?


“Black people need to open their minds…its not an all Black world.”

Just to jump in here…while I do agree there are some that need to open their mind. At the same time you could replace Black with any other culture and say the same thing. I must ask….Is it an all Caucasian world?Because if we look at what is represented as the majority of television/film it sends a clear message that it is an ALL WHITE WORLD on most productions. I think some people take issue with Shonda because her shows mainly focus on a White main character and whatever issues that person might be having. Yes, Miranda Bailey is a good character but it took a while for her to get there. While Meredith and her merry bunch of friends were having all of the plots and love lives…Bailey was for lack of a better word…Den Mother. Her character took seasons to become fully developed unlike others. The most I can give is a slow clap for that. We see this all the time on network tv and film. I respect Shonda’s hustle, I’m glad to see her grow and do more on the small screen. But….. Let’s not act like we are seeing these great well developed POC on the screen on a constant basis. We aren’t, and I’m not drinking that laced Kool-Aid today.

Then there is the whole issue of these horribly written shows with a majority cast of color. There are still strides and long steps that need to be taken for diverse stories to be told. People have been accepting these flat characters of color for so long that it is the default. Do I think someone who is non-(insert race here) can write a character of a different race? Yes, but it takes that person to actually be creative and not fall into stereotypes. Do most writers do that on these shows? No. Why? Because those characters aren’t scheduled to get a story arc of their own so why bother developing them into something more? Knowing the industry in LA, Shonda my be producing but she isn’t the showrunner for everyone one of these shows. Its a collective, can she do more? Maybe. Does she have someone to answer to at the end of the day? Yeah.

It comes down to Ad dollars and what people are watching. if you continue to support all these “Pretty White people with first world problems” type shows then that is what you’re going to get. If the brass at (ugh) BET, TVOne, Bounce, Centric…etc hired some good writers with great show ideas then we would probably see a better change. Obviously it isn’t coming from ABC, NBC, CBS, or FOX.

Its early in LA! Goodnight!

L.A. Proper

I will be really disappointed if it turns out to be a show centered around a white teen.

African-American writer/director Barry Canty, whose award-winning debut film “L.A. Proper” ( can be viewed at the link below, is currently shopping a pilot set in the early 90’s featuring a multi-ethnic cast. Let’s hope it gets picked up. Watch “L.A. Proper” at the link below.


Sometimes I really wish this site was less Op|Ed and more straight up News…sigh…”Whitewashed” & Shonda Rhimes…#GTFOH


Sandra Oh is Korean, not Chinese. Anyway I like what you had to say Monique.


Hear, Hear! Monique. Agreed!!!
And might I be so bold to suggest, if you don’t already, but, I do believe that you must, join me and the many who put their air popped popcorn in large bowls and sit down to watch, with much rapt attention, to the final episode of the 2nd Season of LUTHER starring Idris Elba on BBC America. (How is this the Final Episode?) Let the Shonda Rimes troubles leave you and enjoy a great series with a great character. Let LUTHER wash away your frustrations like Calgon until you smile contently.
They’ve got LUTHER so well written they don’t even let the brotha go upside the villains’ heads. No real physical violence. I’m yelling at the screen, “kick his ass!” But no, LUTHER is cool even when getting a nail driven through his hand. But I’m off topic. Not trying to hijack. Just exposing a character, a Black character, that has been written and realized by the actor for the small screen as one who is multi-layered and unique. Oh and they just introduced a Sista on his staff who has a conflict with her “by the book” training and LUTHER’s m. o. Good Stuff.

Okay one thing everyone has to understand no matter how much success Rhimes has she is still viewed as a black woman trying to sell a show.

Look at Felicia Henderson-she produced a hit in Soul Food the Series. Yet It took her almost 7 years to sell another pilot to a network?

How many white producers and writers have had failure after failure and still get shows greenlighted? JJ Abrams? Jeb Apatow?

We even saw that with the late Dwayne McDuffiehe had 3 hit cartoon shows under his belt, Milestone Media and 3 DC Animation movies under his belt.

He couldn’t even SNIFF a full time writing gig in DC or Marvel until 2007 with JLA and BS got him removed from that book.

Yet tons of horrible bad white writers kept getting gigs.

Ralph Farquahar was doing the same thing in the 90s. Between writing Married with Children and Moesha-if it was a white comedy on Fox-he had a hand in selling it no matter how bad it was.

Miles Ellison

When it comes to black characters on television and in movies, there is only so much dignity and complexity that white audiences will tolerate and black audiences will support.


I think it’s safe to say this will be a topic for the next podcast? :)


I should add that although Shonda didn’t have much hands-on involvement with “Off the Map” while it was still on the air, one of its leads was a black doctor as well.

Nonetheless I understand how Monique feels even if I don’t concur with every single point she made.


Ditto. If you’re gonna rant, get your facts straight. Rhimes’ shows have some of the most diverse casts on tv on all fronts. I can’t say I watch Gray’s or Practice regularly anymore, but look forward to Kerry Washington in Scandal and wouldn’t really ever compare her to Tyler Perry! She actually knows how to structure a story.

I’m black who spent time in Wilwood in the 80’s and happen to know there were few families of color who spent entire summers. I applaud her for showing range and diversity in the shows she develops and actually manages to get on air – a feat that is much harder than people like to admit.


I completely understand where you are coming from. I feel like Shonda, who has power in network tv should cast more blacks in her shows.(Leads, Intense Storylines, and guest stars) why is it that on greys anatomy, she only has 3 blk ppl vs i dont know how many white ppl. Same thing goes for private practice. Her show Scandal has Kerry and Columbus but there are more white ppl on it. It may be a network decision to hire mostly white folks but shonda needs to do more. She is an uncle tom


Monique, thanks for opening up the dialogue. I feel where you’re coming from but have to disagree. Some of the reasons were already mentioned. Some others:

1- To me, it seems that Rhimes/Beers’ first commitment is to women-led stories, of all kinds.

2 – I think Rhimes very strategically used Meredith Grey as a diversion to rope white audiences into a story about people of color in general, black people in particular, the LGBT community, and a host of other “touchy subjects.” Rhimes has done great work for folk like Chandra Wilson and Sandra Oh and Sara Ramirez, as well as the viewing community in general. Private Practice is a different show, not my cup of tea, but I think that’s ok.

3 – Miranda Bailey on Grey’s is absolutely a “lead character who is a black woman and has as much layered depth and intrigue as any other character.”

4 – It seems that one thing Rhimes is aiming for is versatility, which begs the question, will black people ever be expected to tell white stories the same way that white writers/producers feel qualified to tell ours? It seems that far too often, black stories are put in the hands of white creatives to tell, and we often see shallow, unrealistic stories as a result. Should it happen in the reverse? I’d really like to know what people think about this.

5 – You bring up an interesting argument about power – just how much does Rhimes have? Can’t she tell any story she wants? To me, it seems that she’s had to build trust with Hollywood in order to gain some freedom with her storytelling, but she still has to operate within a very old system. Looking at her series of shows, I see her working to get our stories told, to firstly integrate more diversity within the old framework, then to create a new framework where diverse stories are at the forefront.

6 – Again, it’s a matter of opinion, and to each his own, but I think if you hang in with Rhimes you’ll see more of what you want. Case in point – anyone know the status of Helena Andrews’ Bitch is the New Black movie, set to be produced by Rhimes? Majority black cast.


Before I go to bed, I will reply to your comment with this:

Where did I say ‘all black cast?’

Now, if you are going to charge me with being better informed, it might behoove you to actually read what I wrote and not what you imagine I wrote. The article was not about the Networks because we’ve already covered that issue time and again; my assertions were and are about Shonda as well as those like her that get in certain positions and choose to produce particular projects aimed at particular audiences (mainly caucasian). Cast the most blacks, as in one or two? I can’t even reply to that, it’s counter-productive. Anyway, it was indeed a rant, take it as you will but thanks for commenting!


Shonda has been kind to us and I have no beef w/ her. You have a right to your opinion, but you are kinda offbase. I hate that Audra McDonald decided to leave Private Practice and wasn’t replaced with another woman of color, but I like the Benjamin Bratt character a lot!


Great op-ed. Makes for an even greater dialogue. I implore Shadow and Act to post a lexicon. Black folks are speaking/writing in text and acronyms. I don’t know the meaning of some and I need to understand my people.


I take it you haven’t seen the pilot for SCANDAL. Kerry is the undeniable lead in the series. I do get where you are coming from but trust this is more than just a problem with Shonda… this is a network issue. She can fight to have an all black casts but on a network like ABC or FOX in 2011, it’s not going to happen. Grey’s has several African-American characters in supporting and guest roles as does Private Practice. As a matter of fact, if you look at casts of every show on network television, I’m sure her series casts the MOST blacks. Again, I get your grip (sorta) but you need to be a little more informed before you rant.


One thing I do know for sure is I don’t live in Shondaland. She may have written shows that feature mostly blacks or hispanics, but the Big Bosses are not having it. The CEO’s & President’s control the Networks, not Shondra. She’s making a living doing what she loves, so if the Big Bosses want to change the color of some characters, let them.


@ LeonMitchell Raymond,

I have to address one particular thing in your post that’s absolutely false!

“And there needs to be a Latino Shadow and Act cause from what I see Latino’s will get no respect on it cause as far it is and desired on Shadow and Act it is an all Black world!”

Are you serious?

We have a latina who writes for our blog, her name is Vanessa Martinez and she has covered (as well as the rest of us from time to time) films telling the stories of and/or featuring hispanic leads. As a matter of fact, BOTH Tambay and I recently screened Miss Bala and have written or talked about it, I even interviewed the director for this very site! So, your project WOULD be covered here if it was something GOOD and interesting and even sometimes that’s not even a requirement for us to cover it…it’s all subjective.

Again this post is about Shonda Rhimes…do you have the Industry power she has? And if you did, making stories about Latinos/Latinas would be a PROGRESSIVE step forward (in my book).

Read my article again, instead of having some wild knee-jerk reaction to it. I also mention POC (not just black) — but then again this blog says …Of the African Diaspora…which also means are Spanish speaking brothers and sisters.

So, please don’t try and act like this blog is bias against latinos because then you just come off as well, ILL INFORMED (don’t you just love that phrase?!).

To the rest (or rather some) of you, how many times are you going to bring up SCANDAL when I mentioned Kerry Washington and the show several times in my post? But here again, I’ll say the name of the show SCANDAL, SCANDAL, SCANDAL. Much like this comment section is becoming.


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