Shonda Rhimes keynote speaker

Award-Winning Writer, CEO of Shondaland
  • Normalizing Diversity in Media
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Shonda Rhimes is an award-winning television creator, producer, and author. She is also the CEO of Shondaland, the global media company that encompasses brand partnerships, merchandise, theatrical and streaming content, and a digital division. Rhimes shifted the entertainment industry’s business model when she left network television and brokered an unprecedented agreement for Shondaland to produce streaming content exclusively in partnership with Netflix. Bridgerton, Shondaland’s first scripted series with the streamer, is the most-watched series in Netflix history. Rhimes is the executive producer of Dance Dreams: Hot Chocolate Nutcracker, a documentary highlighting the dance school created by legendary choreographer Debbie Allen, as well as the anthology series Notes on Love. Shondaland also produced Rhimes’ first scripted streaming creation, Inventing Anna.

Rhimes is the first woman to create three television dramas that have achieved the 100-episode milestone. Those shows, Grey's Anatomy, the longest-running medical drama in history, its spinoff Private Practice, and the groundbreaking series Scandal for ABC, changed the face of television by proving that series that feature characters of color are more financially powerful in terms of advertising dollars and audiences than all-white series. This business model is now the norm for all network TV.  Shondaland continued to make history with How to Get Away with Murder for which star Viola Davis became the first black woman to receive the Best Actress in a Drama Emmy. For five TV seasons, Shondaland shows occupied ABC’s entire Thursday night schedule, creating a powerful brand well-known to fans and advertisers as TGIT.

Rhimes is the recipient of numerous awards including the Peabody Award, career achievement awards from the Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, and Director’s Guild of America, several AFI Awards for Television Program of the Year, and NAACP Image Awards as well as, champion awards from Planned Parenthood, Human Rights Campaign, GLAAD, and The Feminist Majority as well as the Harvard Medal. She has twice been included on the TIME 100 list of most influential people as well as Fortune Magazines' “50 Most Powerful Women in Business.” Rhimes was also inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame.

Rhimes broadened her company’s content landscape when she launched the culture website in partnership with Hearst Digital Media. More recently, she launched Shondaland Audio in partnership with iHeart Radio. Shondaland Audio features scripted and unscripted podcast content, many of which are top-ranked on iTunes. Additionally, Shonda has built multi-platform partnerships with such leading brands as Dove, Masterclass, The Skimm, and Microsoft. Her latest partnership merged her New York Times best-seller Year of Yes with the popular Peloton fitness brand. Rhimes is a sought-after speaker by Fortune 500 companies.

Rhimes formed The Rhimes Family Foundation whose mission is to support arts, education, and activism. Ms. Rhimes serves on the boards of several non-profit organizations – including Humanitas, the American Film Institute, Beyond 12, Time’s Up, and the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. In addition, Rhimes is on the USC Film Council, the Obama Foundation Storytelling Committee, and co-chair of the Writers Guild Inclusion Committee. Rhimes was appointed by President Obama to serve as a Kennedy Center trustee.

Rhimes holds a BA from Dartmouth College and an MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television. She has also received honorary PhDs from both institutions.


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