*Shonda Rhimes may be a person who has broken glass ceilings, but the woman herself feels the ceilings were shattered prior to her arrival.
Accepting The Hollywood Reporter’s Sherry Lansing Award, Rhimes opened up about her competiveness among her family while mentioning encouraging her peers to work as hard as the trailblazers before to break as much glass as they can in the white and male dominated world of Hollywood.
“I come from a very large, very competitive family. Extremely competitive. And by competitive, I mean, my mother says we’re not allowed to play Scrabble anymore when we get together because of the injuries and the tears. One of the rules in my family is you don’t ever get a trophy for participation, you don’t get a trophy for just being you. So getting an award today BECAUSE I’m a woman and an African-American feels…I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin. I didn’t do anything to make either of those things happen,” Rhimes said during her acceptance speech.
“To get all Beyoncé about it, people: ‘I woke up like this.’
“Seriously. I know this isn’t an award because I’m a woman or BECAUSE I’m African American. I know that it’s really about breaking the glass ceiling that exists in the face of being a woman and being black in this very male, very white town.
“But I haven’t broken through any glass ceilings.”
Rhimes goes on to mention that she if she had broken through any ceilings of glass, there would be bruises, cuts, and wounds she could point to. Rather than dwell on herself, the “Scandal” creator simply pointed at her predecessors and the women who honored and are inspired by her.
“How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice?,” she continued.
“So that when it was my turn to run, it didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore. I mean, the wind was already whistling through — I could always feel it on my face. And there were all these holes giving me a perfect view to other side. I didn’t even notice the gravity, I think it had worn itself away. So I didn’t have to fight as hard, I had time to study the cracks. I had time to decide where the air felt the rarest, where the wind was the coolest, where the view was the most soaring. I picked my spot in the glass and called it my target. And I ran. And when I hit finally that ceiling, it just exploded into dust.
“My sisters who went before me had already handled it.
No cuts. No bruises. No bleeding.
“Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints.
“I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot.
To read Rhimes’ speech in its entirety, click here.