Shonda Rhimes Stresses The Power Of Television During Donald Trump's Presidency — VIDEO
Anyone who has ever watched a Shonda Rhimes TV series understands just how powerful the stories she tells are. And, while receiving an award at the 44th International Emmy Awards, the television magnate acknowledged that as well during a speech in which Rhimes highlighted how important diverse TV is right now. In the past, she has been critical of being praised for diversifying TV since she believes she writes the world as it is, but she changed her tune while accepting the 2016 International Emmy Founders Award on Nov. 21. Because, while America should all view the world as Rhimes does, she recognized that, after the 2016 presidential election, that's not the case.
Although she didn't explicitly mention president-elect Donald Trump or his hateful rhetoric during her acceptance speech, Rhimes said, "It's times like this that I'm reminded of how big a reach television has." She went on to state:
"People have asked me about diversity and I chastise them. They've asked me about legacy and I ignored them. They talked to me about influence and I changed the subject. I've had the luxury of living in a free and fair America where I've slept peacefully under the ideals of equality and the making of a more perfect union. The ideals are still there, whether or not we're actually gonna live up to them is a question."
"A lot of people right now are scared here. They're nervous and they're worried. People of color. Any woman who values her body and her choices. LGBTQ people. Immigrants. Muslims. People with disabilities. They're afraid that their voices will no longer be heard and they believe that they're gonna be silenced. So I didn't ever really think about it, but now I'm thinking about it — how big a reach television has."
Considering Trump winning the presidential election is a sign that America is not as progressive or inclusive as many people believed or hoped — and it's actually a sign that America is xenophobic, racist, sexist, and intolerant — Rhimes felt the need to change how she normally discusses diversity when it comes to her shows and beyond. While TV can be seen as a silly diversion to some (I don't know who you are, but I'm sure you exist), she said, "It's the most powerful source of communication in the world." With the current political landscape in mind, she indicated that what she's doing on her TV shows resonates far beyond entertainment.
"Words have power. TV has power. My pen has power. I'm thinking about that," Rhimes said at the end of the speech, echoing her introduction. You can watch her whole impactful speech — with an equally moving introduction from Scandal star Tony Goldwyn — below.
No matter why you watch her series (because of her dynamic plots; because she tells socially relevant stories; because she has fantastic representations of women, people of color, and the LGBTQ community; or all of the above), Rhimes has changed the landscape of television for the better. She deserved this Founders Award from the Emmys and her being the recipient in 2016, after Trump's election, is particularly poignant. And knowing that Rhimes will not take her duty as one of the biggest voices in the television industry lightly and perhaps incorporate even more politically- and culturally-charged stories in her shows is at least some form of solace for the future of our nation.