Shonda Rhimes Talks Salary to Show Women How to Demand What They Deserve
"I am the highest paid showrunner in television."
Rhimes has created legendary hits like Grey's, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, all of which show Hollywood what diverse casting should be like in a world that caters to only one type of person.
Last year, Rhimes reportedly struck a massive deal with Netflix for about $100 million. But, Rhimes surprised the world at Elle's Women in Hollywood event on October 15, as she revealed that the deal was worth so much more in hopes of inspiring women to demand what they deserve.
"I am the highest-paid showrunner in television," Rhimes declared in her L'Oreal Paris Luminary Award speech.
So, how much might this be? Higher than $400 million, as we know that Ryan Murphy recently signed a five-year Netflix contract worth $300 million and Greg Berlanti signed a $400 million deal with Warner Bros. Television.
However, the number, while impressive, is unimportant compared to the message that Rhimes has to share with all women, especially those who have been conditioned to downplay their successes out of fear of criticism.
"The other day I came to this conclusion that men brag and women hide. Even when they don't deserve to brag, men brag — [Donald] Trump, [Brett] Kavanaugh — and when men do deserve to brag, they are good at it. They do it so well. Men brag about everything, even things that aren't things," Rhimes said.
Rhimes even brought attention to the backlash towards Grey's Anatomy star Ellen Pompeo when she revealed how much she made on the show.
"A little while ago in an inspiring article, Ellen told the world she was the highest-paid women in dramatic television," Rhimes said. "She did not hide. She bragged. She said she was powerful and she said deserved it, and there was some blowback. There should not have been. I have seen a thousand articles like that from men, but she's a woman and she shouldn't say things like that."
But, Rhimes finally had enough, choosing to come out of hiding and truly inspire every woman to share their success with the world.
"My point is that we need to set an example, because I am awesome and we are awesome, which is another way of saying we have power," Rhimes said. "We are powerful women and when we say we have power, what we are really saying is that we deserve to have power. We deserve whatever good thing it is that we are getting. Demanding what you deserve can feel like a radical act."
Rhimes then closed her speech with a reminder that this doesn't just apply to women in Hollywood. It applies to the fans as well, as she reminds us to support each other to insight change.
"Be a person who pulls other women, new women, different women, into your circle," Rhimes said. "Widen your circle to hold more people. Lose your judgments of who someone is based on what you've heard or what you assume. Make some friends. Find some new sisters. Come together, work together, brag together, be powerful together and whenever we can we should be lifting one another up because lifting someone up is what lifts us."