Shonda Rhimes teams up with Dove Real Beauty Productions to tell diverse stories about women, dishes on why it’s important to have a ‘girls club’
Shonda Rhimes is rewriting the script on beauty.
The Emmy Award-winning TV writer and producer behind mega hits like “Scandal” and “Grey’s Anatomy” teamed up with Dove Real Beauty Productions to tell diverse stories about real women redefining the definition of beauty.
“To me, smart always goes with beautiful. It’s part of the definition in general — smart, strong and independent,” Rhimes tells Moneyish.
“But for me, beauty is always sort of me, at my very best, working my hardest and enjoying myself in whatever it is I’m doing. That’s when I feel most beautiful. It has nothing to do with the way my hair looks or the way my lipstick is or any of that stuff. It’s just about how I feel about myself and I think I want that for my daughters,” the mom of three says, adding that “confidence is priceless.”
Beginning in March, Rhimes spearheaded an initiative to get thousands of true stories from women about changing definitions of beauty. So far, the search has been narrowed down to three inspiring woman. One focused on Cathleen Meredith, creator of “Fat Girls Dance” videos, and Kylee Howell, who launched Friar Tuck’s hair salon in Utah to provide short haircuts to women who men’s barbershops refuse to serve.
Most recently for her short film “Meet Diana,” Rhimes met a teacher and mother of two named Dianna Wright, an inspiring individual Rhimes calls a real life “Wonder Woman.” Wright survived a car crash and lost her leg in the accident. She had to learn how to walk again and was determined to do everything she was once physically capable of, like running. In the film, she proudly shows off her decorated prosthetic leg, a symbol of strength, perseverance and beauty for the world to see.
“I think a lot of us would crumble, and a lot of us would spend a lot of time feeling sorry for ourselves and she just thought ‘Well, this is me and I’m going to keep being me,” Rhimes says about Diana who was named after Wonder Woman, Diana of Themyscira.
“It wasn’t that this accident made her realize who she was as a person, this accident just made it possible for her to become more of who she is.”
Aside from just telling feel-good, motivational stories that prove beauty is hardly just about appearance, the ShondaLand producer wanted to promote diversity through Dove’s advertising platform, something she’s done throughout her entire career. Rhimes introduced the world to an African-American chief of surgery and an Asian character with leading plotlines on “Grey’s Anatomy” in addition to writing roles for LGBTQ characters. She’s had black actresses like Kerry Washington in “Scandal” and Viola Davis in “How to Get Away with Murder” portray powerhouse leading roles. But she says there’s still more to work towards when it comes to diversity in Hollywood.
At work, Rhimes says it’s important to surround yourself with mentors who will help you grow.
— Moneyish (@Moneyish) September 19, 2017
“I think mentors happen naturally. You gravitate towards people who can teach you something, and sometimes you don’t realize that that’s who that person is until later. I do think that there’s a boys’ club out in the world, and that it’s very important to have your girls’ club,” she says.
If anyone knows a thing or two about advice for success, it’s Rhimes. The author, producer and screenwriter was named one of TIME magazine’s “100 People Who Help Shape the World” in 2007 when Oprah Winfrey penned an essay cheering on her fellow colleague in TV’s vast accomplishments, calling her “a storyteller for our times.” Rhimes recently signed a multi-year production deal with Netflix last month, ending a 15-year relationship with ABC Studios.
And as a woman who has chosen not to opt out of everything, Rhimes, who wrote her memoir “Year of Yes” in 2015, still preaches the importance of the three letter word.
“My advice to anybody facing anything small or big is if you’re afraid to do something just do it,” she urges.
“The fear is undone by the act of doing the thing you’re afraid of, it truly is. I mean don’t do anything foolish, but nothing is as scary as you think it’s going to be and once you’ve done it, it suddenly doesn’t have that power that you thought it was going to, and you start to realize that you can accomplish far more than you ever thought.”
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