If a black man had done what Shonda has done for black women over the last few years, black people (men and women) would be shouting her name and pointing at her as an example of how to move through Hollywood.
And people would have started following her path years ago. Therefore, no #OscarsSoWhite because the Oscars wouldn't be so white.
She's good. And she knows how good she is. That's why she pulls no punches and gives no damns when she gets an award. When she got the Norman Lear Award, she said.
“I’m going to be totally honest with you, I completely deserve this.”
This video is only a minute long and it's awesome
When Shonda achieves, people look at work and say "Where are the leading black men?" in a way they never ask about leading black women characters
- when a Denzel film comes out,
- when a Will Smith film comes out,
- when a Spike Lee films comes out, or
- when a John Singleton movie comes out.
I actually read a black man critique the way Olivia and Harrison interact in Shonda Rhime's "Scandal" by saying, "Olivia acts like he is her subordinate."
I remember thinking, "Does he need the other half of his brain re-inserted, a dictionary, or his superiority gland removed. Olivia Pope plays Harrison's boss. He is her subordinate. Sexism knows no color. Believe this.
And Denzel Washington and Will Smith have had more white and/or non-black actress co-stars than you can shake ten sticks at, so I'm really not hearing any mess about "Where are the black male leads?"
For me it comes down to more than, "Why should I care where they are too?" That is a fair point considering how little reciprocal concern we get as far as representation in the main stream media. But that's not the reason I don't care about where the black male stars are. I fear that if black men become over-present in shows like "Scandal" or "How To Get Away With Murder," or "Being Mary Jane" for that matter, the black women will be come e-raced, accessories, or stereotypes and caricatures ala "Precious" or "Empire."
On a similar note, Black Lives Matter was started by black women but the deaths of black women were still e-raced in the presence of the deaths of black men. It still galls me that #SayHerName became necessary to reinsert black women into black community concern. And Sandra Bland's death happened as this re-insertion was occurring. But I wonder if #SayHerName is gone already. I mean, as we speak, how many people are trying to figure out what happened to Gynnya McMillen?
But back to the point.
If Shonda Rhimes was a black man, the only questions would be on how do we copy her success? People would be doing what she did.
And let me tell you how she did it.
Rhimes started off with what white people wanted to see or were willing to see. That's a no brainer, yes?
Her first series, "Grey's Anatomy" had a white woman lead at least one person of color as a central character (an Asian woman) and minor actors (black male and female)
Her second series, "Private Practice," had the same white female lead with the black characters that were more central.
Her third lead character in her third series was black, but not too black, Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope in "Scandal."
Her fourth lead character in her fourth series, "How To Get Away With Murder" is all the way black, dark-skinned, complete with afro hair (Viola Davis) and has other central black characters in it.
By the way, this is how black feminists and womanists roll (Shonda, Kerry, Viola)
Now that Shonda has knocked that glass ceiling out. I'm hoping steps one and two of her program for Hollywood success aren't necessary for some of the up and come-ers.
Happy Belated Birthday Shonda Rhimes. I promise you, some of us have sense enough to be happy you were born.