Shonda Rhimes is a woman of many talents. Among these talents are television producing and writing. Rhimes is the executive producer, head writer, and creator of the popular ABC show, Grey’s Anatomy which has entered its 12th season. The popularity of Grey’s Anatomy prompted Rhimes to create a spin off, Private Practice. Rhimes also created, wrote, and produced the “political thriller,” Scandal (1). She is also the executive producer for Off the Map, How to Get Away with Murder, and The Catch (1). Rhimes also had a hand in various movies, such as Princess Diaries 2. Of the many shows Rhimes has had a part in, three of them (Grey’s Anatomy, Private Practice, Off the Map) were medical dramas.
Rhimes’s interest in medical dramas stemmed from her high school years volunteering as a candy striper in a hospital in Chicago Heights for years. In an interview, she explains, “I definitely think [volunteering] affected my view of hospitals. Not in the sense of gorgeous interns racing around having sexual relations, but my comfort level with medical environments…” (2). Rhimes was able to create a somewhat realistic medical drama because she was able to relate back to her time spent in the medical setting.
Aside from the engrossing medical drama, Rhimes also attributes the success of her shows by making them something she would like to watch; if she does not want to watch it, she excludes it from the show (2). Rhimes also emphasizes the importance of her characters. She gives them interesting personal stories with a slight emphasis on romance. She emphasizes the romance in her shows because she believes “we all want that fantasy” (2). Rhimes is also conscious to ensure that her characters “don’t speak in TV speak” (2). She tries to create her characters and put them in situations that are as realistic as possible.
Rhimes is definitely not a one-time creative. She has created successful show after successful show and does not show any signs of slowing down. This is extremely impressive considering ABC has dedicated its Thursday night time slots to Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, which means these shows are all in production simultaneously. Collins and Amabile believe that “creativity is motivated by the enjoyment and satisfaction that a person derives from engaging in the creative activity” (3). I think this statement aligns well with Shonda Rhimes’s motivation for her TV shows, specifically. Rhimes admits to thinking that she wanted to be a doctor, an attorney, or a psychiatrist, but in reality she just wanted to write about these jobs, not do them (2).
3. Collins & Amabile: Collins, M. A., & Amabile, T. M. (1999). Motivation and creativity. In Robert J. Sternberg (Ed.) Handbook of Creativity. New York: Cambridge University Press.