In 2007, TIME magazine named Shonda Rhimes one of the top 100 most influential people in the world. In part, she received the honor for directing films such as Blossoms and Veils and writing films such as Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, Crossroads, and Princess Diaries 2, (all of which she did, by the way, while raising three daughters on her own). What she is perhaps most know for, however, is creating, writing, producing, and acting as showrunner for the television shows Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, and Scandal. The first show to be produced by ShondaLand (her production company) debuted on March 27, 2005. Shonda was 35 years old.
What I love about Shonda is not only the empire she has created, but also how she built that empire and her philosophy about the process. After dreaming about being the next Toni Morrison, she ditched her dream, went to film school, and became an independent filmmaker, supporting herself by working as an office administrator and rehabilitative counselor along the way.
As she explains in her stunning commencement speech to the Dartmouth Class of 2014:
…be a doer, not a dreamer. Maybe you know exactly what it is you dream of being, or maybe you’re paralyzed because you have no idea what your passion is. The truth is, it doesn’t matter. You don’t have to know. You just have to keep moving forward. You just have to keep doing something, seizing the next opportunity, staying open to trying something new. It doesn’t have to fit your vision of the perfect job or the perfect life. Perfect is boring and dreams are not real. Just … do.
Thank you, Shonda!