Nary a week goes by at Women and Hollywood when we don’t devote a post to Shonda Rhimes. That’s because the Scandal showrunner is one of the few industry insiders with the courage and the principles to openly criticize the sexism and racism endemic to Hollywood.
Rhimes deserves yet another round of applause for her speech at Saturday’s DGA Awards. As announced earlier, she and producing partner Betsy Beers were presented with the Guild’s Diversity Award, an accolade bestowed only four other times in the awards’ history for “making a real difference in the hiring of women and minorities.”
Rhimes “felt honored” receiving the award, but “I was also a little pissed off.” The prize apparently reminded Rhimes of an old roommate who expected special recognition for doing the dishes: “This is not special, what you are doing. You should be washing the dishes. I’m not going to applaud and give you an award for something you should be doing. That is how Betsy and I feel about this award. … There shouldn’t need to be an award. Its very shocking to us that there is much of this lack of diversity in Hollywood in 2014.”
Rhimes and Beers were joined by three other women directors in the winners’ circle.
The Square director Jehane Noujaim won the Best Documentary prize. Deadline reports that she was “clearly moved by the win.” In her acceptance speech, she said, “This film is the most deeply personal film I ever made, watching my country change. lt redefined my understanding of what was possible. On the inside, if I learned anything, you have to believe in what’s absolutely impossible. For those in (Egypt) who are still fighting on the ground, they still believe what is possible. January 23rd marks the third anniversary of the revolution. We wanted to launch the film in Egypt, but it wasn’t cleared by censors. But it has been pirated, copied and uploaded again and again and 750,000 people have seen it in the last couple of days. I called Ahmed (Hassan), one of the main characters, and he told me, ‘I can’t walk the streets! Girls want to take pictures with me! The film has spread far beyond Cairo to villages you haven’t even heard of.’ This is the first Egyptian film nominated for an Oscar, and by a woman no less, and so this award means so much.”
(As a quick sidenote: The Square is a wonderfully complex documentary that chronicles the many bloody protests it took to oust dictators Mubarak and Morsi from power, and it heartbreakingly depicts how a revolution can factionalize protestors who initially campaigned together. We at Women and Hollywood would like to note that we are disappointed that the film portrays the Egyptian protests as a nearly universally male endeavor (which definitely wasn’t the case), while still celebrating Noujaim’s great accomplishments and richly due recognition.)
After ten DGA nominations, TV veteran Beth McCarthy-Miller finally won her first award for the 30 Rock finale. Last year, McCarthy-Miller signed on to direct her first film, the comedy Mean Moms, a kind of older sister to Tina Fey’s Mean Girls.
Rounding out the quintet of female DGA winners is Amy Schatz, who received the children’s program award for HBO’s An Apology to Elephants.