Are you obsessed with Scandal? Have you cried through every death on Grey's Anatomy? If so, you are probably deep into Shondaland, the TV shows created by the incredible and talented showrunner Shonda Rhimes. The mastermind behind characters like Olivia Pope and McDreamy has received tons of accolades for her ABC shows but one of the things that she is most proud of is the diversity within her cast. The Director's Guild of America is pretty impressed with that, too — this year they are giving Shonda Rhimes their Diversity Award.
Rhimes, 44, is known for increasing the visibility of minorities on her television shows. Scandal has made headlines for being one of the first shows on primetime TV to feature a black woman as its lead. But according to Rhimes, she's not actively looking to put minority characters in lead roles as much as she is looking for a way to reflect the world she lives in — a world full of people of different backgrounds, races, and sexual orientation.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Rhimes says, "I just wanted to make a television show that looked like the world around me... People only write ethnicity into a script when it's something other than white, which is an odd assumption of whiteness."
Rhimes isn't the first person in Hollywood to talk about the challenges of finding acting roles for minorities, but she is one of the few people to have increased the visibility of minorities on television. Rhimes' race-blind casting is an important thing for people in Hollywood to take note of — why should we automatically cast characters as white unless otherwise noted? Surely there are enough actors of different backgrounds that we can make television look a little more like the diverse world we live in.
Congrats to Shonda Rhimes — thanks for entertaining us all these years and for making TV a little smarter.