Shonda Rhimes Confirms She Doesn’t ‘Pay Attention’ to Fan Requests: ‘It Doesn’t Help Me’

The prolific showrunner says she reached the top of the TV world by listening to her own instincts.
Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes
Getty Images for BAFTA

Few 21st century showrunners have enjoyed more consistent success than Shonda Rhimes. After creating the ABC juggernaut “Grey’s Anatomy” in 2005, she effectively redefined the 2010s network drama with stylish soap operas like “Scandal” and “How to Get Away with Murder” that featured Black women in prominent roles. She proved to be equally effective in the streaming space when she oversaw the mega hit “Bridgerton” and its new spin-off “Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story” for Netflix.

In a new interview with Vulture, Rhimes opened up about the creative process that has propelled her to create so many hits. The way she tells it, tuning out online feedback from fans and listening to her own instincts and those of her writers has played a major role in her success.

“I think I’m pretty famous for being a person who says I don’t pay attention to fans,” Rhimes said. “I don’t mean that in a bad way; I mean, the only way I know how to tell a story is to sort of be its keeper, and I therefore can’t take in all the outside influences from people’s reactions to the story. It doesn’t help me in figuring out a way to be creative in my job.”

While Rhimes made it clear that she doesn’t let any viewer feedback affect her work, she was also clear to differentiate between fans trying to help her in good faith and trolls who criticize her diverse shows in racist ways. Unsurprisingly, she has even less tolerance for the latter group and made it clear that she doesn’t let racial comments about her work get to her.

“There’s no good way to say this, so I’m just going to say it: I do not concern myself with the interests and thoughts of racists when I am incorporating ideas into my storytelling,” she said. “It’s not worth anybody’s time. I think my very existence is pushback. Every show I’ve ever made is pushback because it was made by a Black woman and all the characters everybody seems to love are written through the voice of a Black woman.”

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