*Shonda Rhimes underscored the responsibility of scripted television as a global platform — now more than ever before — during the International Emmy Awards on Monday night.
“It’s the most powerful source of communication in the world: we sit with you in your homes, you spend more hours with many of my characters than you do with members of your own family,” said the executive producer of “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “How to Get Away With Murder,” The Catch” and “Still Star-Crossed,” upon accepting the Founders Award, presented by “Scandal” actor Tony Goldwyn. “That comes with an enormous responsibility, and I take it very seriously. Words have power. TV has power. My pen has power.”
Rhimes said that she used to brush off notions that her shows’ stories are purposely written to include underrepresented communities onscreen.
“I don’t often think about it because I have not had to. People have asked me about diversity and I’ve chastised them; people have asked me about legacy and I ignored them; they’ve talked to me about influence and I changed the subject,” she continued. “I’ve had the luxury of living in a free and fair America where I 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 the question.”
Because of the election of Donald Trump, Rhimes said she will continue to write these characters, but with a more deliberate approach.
“A lot of people right now are scared, nervous or worried: people of color, any woman who values her body and her choices, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities,” she explained of Trump’s positions, without ever saying his name. “They’re afraid their voices will no longer be heard, or they believe they’re going to be silenced. … My pen has power — I’m thinking about that.”
The ceremony was held at the New York Hilton Midtown, the same venue where Trump celebrated his presidential election victory less than two weeks ago — a fact that host Alan Cumming pointed out at the top of his opening monologue, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
“This hall was one the venue for one of the darkest, most negative nights in the history of this country. … This very stage was where Donald Trump first stood as the president-elect of the United States of America.”
He told the British nominees, “Trump makes Brexit look positively benign — still a tumor, but one that hasn’t metastasized yet.”