As the creator of seemingly every show on TV (Scandal, Grey's Anatomy, Private Practice), there's no denying Shonda Rhimes has endless talent and endless drive. But what makes her even more of an awesome role model? The fact she wants to expand the definition of beauty — especially as it's portrayed by the media.
That's one of the many reasons Rhimes has teamed up with Dove for the launch of Real Beauty Productions, an innovative digital studio that will allow women and girls to tell their stories. Starting March 30, Dove will be accepting submissions from those who want to share their definition of beauty in the form of a short film, with Rhimes acting as creative director. (Pretty cool, right?)
Given that Dove is all about celebrating women, the collaboration makes sense. "It feels like a natural fit," Rhimes tells me in an interview about the partnership. "It’s always been real women in their ads and I just like that. It felt...to me very natural and like it sort of fit with...who I am and...how I live my life."
Rhimes believes it's important for women to have the chance to tell their story, and for those stories to be out there circulating in the world. "I mean, I don’t care if you’re 13 and you’re growing up into a woman or if you’re 60. It’s important to know and see other women who look like you," Rhimes says.
As someone who grew up with their mom driving "forever to find dolls and magazines" so her and her sisters had examples of women who looked like them, Rhimes also tells me that if she had had those examples readily available, life would have been easier in some ways.
"You know, I think it would have made life a lot easier for my mother to make sure that my sisters and I had examples of women who looked like us," Rhimes says. "But I think it also would have been great because I wouldn’t have spent the hours in front of the mirror trying to look like somebody I wasn’t. Which I think every girl does at some point in her life. You always want to look like what you’re not because you’re trying to look like something in a magazine."
It's also why she makes a point of including all types of women in her TV shows. "I like to tell stories about women as they really are," Rhimes tells me. "I want to make sure real women are portrayed realistically onscreen and try to show all kinds of women."
Rhimes may have beauty on the brain when writing and creating for TV. But when it comes to everyday life, she defines beauty by not having to think about it at all. "I think for me, my idea of beauty is always just me on my best day, you know, running at all cylinders, running full speed ahead and not thinking ... about or worrying about how I look because I feel so good that how I look is already fixed in my mind ... It’s already part of it. You’re not worrying about your flaws because your flaws aren’t flaws anymore ... Your flaws are just 'you.'"
Rhimes applies this don't-even-think-about-it mentality when it comes to success, too. (Just in case you'd like to know how she does it.) "[Part] of confidence, part of success, part of getting anywhere is allowing yourself to be confident enough to feel like you can belong in any room that you’re in. That you can feel, you know, as proud of yourself or love yourself enough or… I don’t know… feel beautiful that wherever you’re standing you belong there."
This is, of course, exactly the idea behind the Dove campaign. "Your voice deserves to be heard," she says. "Every woman’s voice deserves to be heard. And that idea that you can stand in any room and have your voice be heard and deserve to have that heard. That’s important."