I am here for black women securing the bag 24/7/365.
Let’s be honest. Black women are paid 21 percent less than white women and 38 percent less than white men on average. Imagine how something like that plays out in Hollywood, where black people in positions of power are exceptions and not the rule.
So when a black woman is a starting player on that snowy field, holding the ball, calling the shots and controlling the entirety of the alphabet network’s Thursday evening programming—you have to pause and acknowledge that she did what? That, bitch.
Shonda Rhimes is the creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder. She has had Thursday nights on ABC wrapped around her little finger since 2006. She gave us Derek Shepherd, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating and Addison Montgomery. Her shows giveth, and they taketh away. You will be in love with a character this week, and that mofo will get killed off next week, because that’s how Shonda is. And we deal with it.
I liken it to the days when our mamas used to watch Falcon Crest, Knots Landing, Dallas and Dynasty. These are our nighttime stories, y’all.
Last year, Rhimes left the network she had been with for fifteen years in favor of an overall deal with online streaming service Netflix. At the time the deal was made, it was rumored that it was lucrative—but the exact amount of money was unclear.
That changed on Monday night in the ballroom of the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills at Elle’s 25th annual Women in Hollywood celebration. It is there that Shonda stood at the podium and flexed on everyone in the room by telling them she makes more money than all of them, according to The Hollywood Reporter.
Rhimes said Monday night that her salary was misreported in the press as being $100 million. According to THR, she didn’t disclose the correct amount—but to put it in perspective, Ryan Murphy inked a five-year Netflix deal worth as much as $300 million according to THR, and Greg Berlanti got an extension deal worth $400 million from Warner Bros. Television.
It’s not so much that Shonda made this announcement at a star-studded Hollywood event. It’s the way she did it.
I cannot say for sure if any parts of her speech were intentional shade or not—but I mean, it’s Shonda. We’ve all watched her shows. We’ve seen the snark there. We know her style.
I’m going to call it shade, and I am going to relay it as such.
Rhimes told the crowd that her reasoning for
stunting on your broke ass hoes revealing her salary was tied to her realization that women don’t brag enough about themselves. She said she had come to the conclusion that “men brag and women hide.”
She said men brag even when they don’t deserve to, and she specifically name-checked Donald Trump and Brett Kavanaugh. See what I mean? Shade.
“They do it so well. Men brag about everything, even things that aren’t things. A little while ago in an inspiring article, Ellen [Pompeo, star of Grey’s Anatomy] told the world she was the highest paid women in dramatic television. She did not hide. She bragged,” Rhimes said.
“She said she was powerful and she said deserved it, and there was some blowback,” she continued. “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.”
Then she hit Ryan Murphy with one of those “bless your heart” types of compliments that sounds nice but you also walk away from it wondering if you actually got slighted.
“Ryan Murphy, bless your amazingly talented heart,” Rhimes said. “When Ryan made his amazing deal with Netflix, what did he do? He shouted his salary to the world and he did this gorgeous cover shoot and photo for The Hollywood Reporter and he deserved every minute of it. I applaud him.”
She then busted out the humblest of brags about being humble and not bragging, and I just—I stan.
“When I made a deal with Netflix, I let them interview my salary wrong in the press, and then I did as few interviews as possible and I put my head down and worked. In other words, I hid. I’m getting this award for inspiring other women; how can I inspire anyone if I’m hiding?”
She let that settle over everyone’s heads as she made her next and loudest declaration of the evening—all without raising her voice.
“I am the highest-paid showrunner in television,” the 48-year-old said.
According to THR, after Rhimes made her announcement, the room—which was filled with people like Lady Gaga, Charlize Theron, Angela Bassett, Keira Knightley, Sarah Paulson, Mia Farrow and Yara Shahidi—“erupted with a standing ovation.”
Because you get up and salute a queen when you see her.
“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 told the room. “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”
She ended on a note about the importance of women sticking together, reaching out to each other, reaching back, building community and widening your circle to include more people.
“Lose your judgments of who someone is based on what you’ve heard or what you assume,” she said. “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.”
Shorter Shonda Rhimes? I’m the biggest boss that you’ve seen thus far, and boss black women make boss moves.
Rick Ross’s “The Boss” should be her theme music from how on.
Meanwhile, this is mine, and I listened to it the entire time I was writing this post. It applies to Shonda too.
You go, sis. We are proud of you.
Correction: October 16, 2018, 9:06 ET: Shonda Rhimes is the executive producer of How to Get Away With Murder not the creator.