Adam McKay’s “The Big Short” may have walked away with the top prize at the 2016 Producers Guild of America Awards over the weekend, but it’s Shonda Rhimes who truly won the night. The mega-producer behind hits like “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” was honored at the event with the Producers Guild’s Norman Lear Award for Achievement in Television, and she used her time on stage to deliver a rousing speech that put Hollywood in its place and made clear why she’s one of the boldest and most beloved producers in the business.
“I’m going to be totally honest with you, I completely deserve this,” she said of her award, as reported by Vulture. “I have, against the odds, courageously pioneered the art of writing for people of color as if they were human beings. I’ve bravely gone around just casting parts for actors who were the best ones…There was no blazing and no trails. It’s not trailblazing to write the world as it actually is. Women are smart and strong. They are not sex toys or damsels in distress. People of color are not sassy or dangerous or wise. And, believe me, people of color are never anybody’s sidekick in real life.”
Rhimes’ comments come at a critical time in which conversations surrounding diversity in Hollywood have reached a breaking point. After the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences failed to nominate minorities for the Oscars this year, numerous actors, directors and Academy insiders spoke out last week decrying the decision and calling for change. The Academy even had an emergency board meeting to renegotiate membership rules in order to increase diversity among its ranks.
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As someone who has been exceptionally diverse in her television work for over a decade now, Rhimes expressed frustration and sadness in regards to the ongoing talks and controversies on the subject. “I created the content that I wanted to see and I created what I know is normal,” she said. “So basically, you are just giving me an award for being me, in which case I totally deserve it. Really, I am honored to receive it. The respect of this award does mean the world. It just makes me a little bit sad. First of all, strong women and three-dimensional people of color is something Norman was doing 40-something years ago. So how come it has to be done all over again? What are we waiting for? I mean, I know this is a room full of producers, so probably you’re waiting for money.”
For more on the 2016 PGA Awards, head over to Thompson on Hollywood.