This morning The Hollywood Reporter presented Shonda Rhimes with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award. This was said to be “in recognition of [her] breaking through the industry’s glass ceiling as a woman and an African-American.” Yet in her acceptance speech, she says she was skeptical of these claims. Her resistance may read as humble and self-depricating, but she swears that’s not the case: “I am not a self-deprecating, humble person. I think I’m pretty fantastic.”
Instead, she simply refuses to take credit for crashing through anything. She traces the history of Hollywood, paying homage to all the women of every color who came before her.
Think of them. Heads up, eyes on the target. Running. Full speed. Gravity be damned. Towards that thick layer of glass that is the ceiling. Running, full speed and crashing. Crashing into that ceiling and falling back. Crashing into it and falling back. Into it and falling back. Woman after woman. Each one running and each one crashing. And everyone falling.
How many women had to hit that glass before the first crack appeared? How many cuts did they get, how many bruises? How hard did they have to hit the ceiling? How many women had to hit that glass to ripple it, to send out a thousand hairline fractures? How many women had to hit that glass before the pressure of their effort caused it to evolve from a thick pane of glass into just a thin sheet of splintered ice? So that when it was my turn to run, it didn’t even look like a ceiling anymore.
The speech is a powerful thing. If you cannot watch it, you can read the full transcript on Medium. And I hope you do. She hands Hollywood its ass and manages to do it in the most uplifting, empowering way possible.