Shonda Rhimes on the importance of women telling their own stories
Shonda Rhimes has been at the helm of some of the most groundbreaking TV shows and movies of our time — from Scandal to Grey's Anatomy to How to Get Away With Murder to Crossroads.
Now, she's taking her talents over to Dove, the beauty company, and helping with the launch of Real Beauty Productions, a digital studio that aims to put women in charge of telling their own stories about their relationship to beauty – with Rhimes playing creative director.
Starting Thursday, women will be encouraged to tell their own stories at the Dove Real Beauty website. Then with the help of Dove and this new studio, Rhimes will bring these real stories to life through film in an effort to promote inclusivity and more diverse voices in the beauty industry.
Before the project's announcement on Thursday, Rhimes spoke with Mic about why this project is so important to her right now, and the power of women telling their own stories for everyone to hear.
Mic: What made you jump at the chance to get involved with a company like Dove?
Shonda Rhimes: The main reason is that it dovetails perfectly into who I am what I've been doing always. [Dove is] very much about showing women as they really are and expanding the definition of beauty, which I think is incredibly important so women of all sizes and shapes can see themselves on screen. It seems like a very normal thing to do, but Dove has always been doing it.
This new project is really about putting women in control of their own stories. Why do you think that's so important?
SR: I think that when women tell their own stories and when women are given a chance to speak, they give voice to other women as well. When you see a woman on screen who looks like you or relates to you, you feel more seen. You feel less alone. That expands our definition of who we are, rather than this narrow definition of beauty that's been around for decades.
When it comes to beauty and women's relationships to it, what's one story you think hasn't been told yet, but needs to be?
SR: There are thousands that need to be. To me what's great about this is that the possibilities are endless, totally endless. The same way we shouldn't put limits on beauty, we shouldn't put limits on what people define this as.
If you were to go back in time and give your younger self one bit of advice on beauty or self-love, what would it be?
SR: I think probably my one biggest piece of advice would be to worry less about other people and worry more about what I see in myself. With age, you get this sense of understanding that what matters is what you think of you. How you perceive yourself as beautiful or not. Other people's opinions don't matter, but yours does.
What do you hope this new production company and studio with Dove brings about?
SR: To me, what I think is gonna be great is that not only is Dove going to be doing a project that allows people to see themselves in different ways, but also allowing people to have a voice, and use that voice. For years, Dove has been putting up images of different kinds of women, but now these women are going to have a voice and we're going to be able to hear how their own definition of beauty has changed. When you give all of these women voices, it just changes.
How do you think diverse voices in the beauty industry really help women in the world?
SR: I do think there's a sense of not feeling as alone, but also feeling like the world is a little smaller. As different as everyone is, the similarity of the beauty is original and individual and that makes us all together in this. I think right now there's only one definition of beauty and that isolates us and separates us.
Why do you think bringing more voices and viewpoints into the industry than ever before is so important right now?
SR: I simply think that beauty should look like the world looks. Storytelling should look like the world looks. We should be telling the stories of everyone. I think it's important because the world is changing quite quickly and we should be reflecting that.
You can watch the official Real Beauty Productions video announcing this project below: