Entertainment & Arts

Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes gets leadership prize

Shonda Rhimes Image copyright Reuters

Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes has been honoured with a leadership award at the Hollywood Reporter's annual Women in Entertainment event.

The writer-director-producer was recognised for "breaking through the industry glass ceiling as a woman and an African American".

Rhimes is also behind hits Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder.

Previous recipients include Oprah Winfrey, Dame Helen Mirren, Meryl Streep and Barbara Walters.

In a recorded message, First Lady Michelle Obama praised Rhimes, adding she was an avid fan of Scandal, which is set in Washington DC.

"She's created strong characters that reflect who we are are as a country," she said.

"[Shonda] has proven that successful TV shows can be built around and by women, and she's paving the way for our next generation."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Oscar-nominated actress Viola Davis stars in Shonda Rhimes's latest drama How to Get Away with Murder

Accepting her award, Rhimes said she thought her recognition had been a mistake.

"I haven't broken through any glass ceilings," she said.

"If I had I would have felt some cuts, I would have some bruises. How come I don't remember that happening? Here's why: it's 2014."

The writer paid tribute to her female predecessors, who she said helped pave the way for her success - both as a black woman and a woman in the entertainment industry.

"How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? I didn't have to fight that hard. When I finally hit that ceiling it just exploded into dust - my sisters before me had already handled it," she said.

"Making it through the glass ceiling was simply running on the path created by every other woman's footprint.

"I'm proud and honoured to receive this award because it was a group effort. I want to thank all the women in this room and all the women who never made it to this room."

Image copyright AP
Image caption Kerry Washington has been nominated for two Emmys and a Golden Globe for her role in Scandal

Rhimes began her career writing the 1999 TV movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge starring Halle Berry. She later wrote the scripts for Britney Spears' 2001 film Crossroads and 2004's The Princess Diaries 2.

A year later her first series, Grey's Anatomy, launched, followed by spin-off Private Practice in 2007, which ran until last year.

Scandal debuted in 2012, with her latest drama How to Get Away with Murder - which she executive produces and stars Oscar nominee Viola Davis - beginning in September.

All three current shows are aired in the US on a Thursday - historically the most competitive programming night among broadcast networks.

The Hollywood Reporter event also featured a tribute to comedian Joan Rivers, who died in September.

Her daughter, Melissa, said had her mother been at the event "she would be beyond herself".

"She would be sitting at the table beaming, while discreetly shoving croissants and silverware in her purse," she joked.

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