Few 21st century showrunners have had more consistent success than Shonda Rhimes. After creating ABC’s behemoth ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ in 2005, she effectively redefined network drama in the 2010s with hip soap operas like ‘Scandal’ and ‘How to Get Away with Murder’ that featured black women in prominent roles. She proved to be equally effective in the streaming space when she oversaw the mega-hit ‘Bridgerton’ and its new spin-off ‘Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story’ for Netflix.
In a new interview with Vulture, Rhimes opened up about the creative process that drove her to create so many hits. How he tells it, ignoring online feedback from fans and listening to his own gut and that of his writers, has played a big part in his success.
“I think I’m quite famous for being someone who says they don’t pay attention to fans,” Rhimes said. “I don’t mean that in a negative sense; I mean, the only way I know how to tell a story is to kind of be its keeper, and so I can’t absorb all the outside influences from people’s reactions to the story. It doesn’t help me find a way to be creative in my work.
While Rhimes has made it clear that she doesn’t let viewer feedback affect her work, she’s also been clear about distinguishing between fans who try to help her in good faith and trolls who criticize her different shows in racist ways. Unsurprisingly, she has even less tolerance for the latter group and has made it clear that she doesn’t let racist comments about her work get to her.
“There’s no good way to put it, so I’ll just say it: I’m not concerned with the interests and thoughts of racists when I incorporate ideas into my storytelling,” she said. “It’s not worth anyone’s time. I think my very existence is rejected. Every show I’ve made is rejected because it was made by a black woman and all the characters that everyone seems to love are written through a black woman’s voice.