10 Things You Didn’t Know About Shonda RhimesPublished on January 13, 2016. Updated April 29, 2019
By now everyone in the entertainment industry, specifically the television industry, knows who Shonda Rhimes is. At only 46 years old, she has created her own television empire known as Shondaland and is the brain behind some of TV’s biggest shows including Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. Maybe everyone knows who she is, but the star still keeps very quiet and her life away from the spotlight, so here are 10 Things You Didn’t Know About Shonda Rhimes.
10. Net Worth
Everyone knows Shonda Rhimes has been successful; however, many wonder just what that means in terms of a payday. It turns out Rhimes has a staggering net worth of $120 million. Between her early film screenplays and massive hit shows, it is not really surprising she is worth so much.
9. Accomplished Family
A lot of Rhimes’ motivation for her own success comes from being a part of such an accomplished family. Rhimes along with her five siblings were raised near Chicago by their parents. Rhimes mother attended college while raising all six kids and received a Ph.D. in educational administration. Meanwhile, her father has an MBA and is currently the Chief Information Officer at the University of Southern California (USC).
Given her parents’ determination and hard work, it isn’t surprising that Rhimes has also been a high-achiever since a young age. She volunteered at hospitals when she was in high school and then went to Dartmouth College where she majored in English and film studies, earning a Bachelor’s Degree. While in school she balanced her school work with directing and performing in productions for the Black Underground Theater Association. She then went to USC to study screenwriting after she read an article stating it was harder to get into that program than to study law at Harvard, and said she wanted more of a “challenge,” so she chose USC.
7. Other Works
Due to the popularity of her television shows, many forget about Shonda Rhimes’ first claim to fame. In 2002 she wrote Crossroads, the film debut of Britney Spears which also starred Zoe Saldana and Taryn Manning. Although it was heavily criticized by critics and Rhimes was nominated for a Razzie for Worst Screenplay, the film still made $60 million worldwide. She also wrote the sequel to The Princess Diaries, The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, which is one of her most treasured experiences because she got to work with Julie Andrews.
#tbt to that time I wrote a movie for @britneyspears #crossroads #notagirlnotyetawoman #movies A photo posted by Shonda Rhimes (@shondarhimes) on
Aside from volunteering at the hospital when she was in high school, Rhimes also stated she was in a championship marching band but has not elaborated on what instrument she played.
5. Important Influences
Through all the fame and fortune, Rhimes has had the same best friend since she was 10 years old. As it turns out that best friend is the real-life Cristina Yang. Rhimes based the famous Grey’s Anatomy character played by Sandra Oh on her best friend and let the world know in a Twitter post about the Season 10 finale that said goodbye to Yang on the show.
4. Life-Changing Moment
The same day that Rhimes moved into a rental house in Vermont as a quiet place to finish a script, the World Trade Center was attacked in the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The moment caused Rhimes to “reassess” her priorities and goals in life and realized her top priority was to adopt. Nine months later she became a single mother when she adopted her daughter Harper. She adopted a second daughter, Emerson, in 2012 and welcomed her third daughter Beckett in 2013 who was born by surrogate.
3. No to Marriage
Rhimes often talks of the struggle of balancing life as a working mother; however, she has absolutely no problem doing it herself. She never sheds light on her personal life but has stated she does not want to get married. “I was seriously dating somebody and I was like, ‘I don’t want to do this.’ We’re all so conditioned to want it, I felt like there must be something wrong with me. But the minute I said it out loud to my family, it was fantastic.”
2. Early Career
While at USC, Rhimes was hired as an intern at Denzel Washington’s production company Mundy Lane Entertainment; however, after graduation, she found herself unemployed and worked different jobs including as an office administrator and a counselor at a job center. She then got a break as a research director for the 1995 acclaimed documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream.
1. Feelings on Social Media
Shonda Rhimes can appreciate the social media craze as much as anyone, but she has some pretty strong feelings for people who think they are making a difference through it. “Hashtags are very pretty on Twitter. I love them. I will hashtag my way into next week. But a hashtag is not a movement. A hashtag does not make you Mr. King. It does not change anything. It’s you, sitting on your butt, typing into your computer and then going back to binge-watching your favorite show.”