December 03, 2013 11:10am PT by Lesley Goldberg
Shonda Rhimes, Betsy Beers to Receive DGA's Diversity Award
Shonda Rhimes and longtime producing partner Betsy Beers are being honored for their commitment to diversity.
The Directors Guild of America announced Tuesday that the Grey's Anatomy and Scandal producers will receive its 2014 Diversity Award. The prize -- only the fifth of its kind to be awarded -- will honor the Shondaland duo for their commitment to diversity hiring and history of providing jobs and opportunities to women and minorities in DGA-covered categories and the example they set for the rest of the industry.
"The DGA Diversity Award is an exceedingly rare honor, given only when we feel strongly that someone is making a real difference in the hiring of women and minorities," DGA president Paris Barclay said in making the announcement. "In the decade that Shonda and Betsy have been creating and producing buzzworthy television, their record of diverse hiring has been consistently outstanding at a time when very few television series meet that standard. As a result, they have impacted the careers of dozens of women and minorities -- they've made stars not only in front of, but behind the camera as well. They're strong and outspoken advocates for diversity throughout our industry, and we are very proud to recognize them with the DGA's Diversity Award."
Rhimes launched ABC Studios-based Shondaland in 2004. The prolific showrunner has created Grey's Anatomy and Kerry Washington starrer Scandal, in addition to Grey's spinoff Private Practice, which ended its run in January. Rhimes has twice been included in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people, Fortune's 50 most powerful women in business and The Hollywood Reporter's annual Women in Entertainment and top showrunners. This year, Rhimes was appointed by President Obama to serve as a trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
"It has always been important that the world created in my shows look like the actual world that we live in," Rhimes said. "I am truly honored to be receiving this prestigious award and am thankful for all of the work that the DGA does to promote diversity in our industry."
Rhimes' series have always been diverse and inclusive, often featuring gay characters that have earned the writer-producer accolades from LGBT watchdog group GLAAD. Scandal star Washington became the first African-American Emmy nominee for best actress in a drama since Cicely Tyson in 1995. A black actress has yet to take home the statuette in the category.
For her part, Beers is an EP on Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and Private Practice, and has been honored multiple times for her work as a producer. She is a partner in Shondaland, where she and Rhimes work together to develop and produce additional feature film and television projects.
"I am thrilled and honored to be receiving this award from the DGA," Beers said. "We want to accurately reflect the world in which we live today -- and that means ensuring that a diverse workplace exists, both on- and offscreen."
Previous Diversity Award recipients include Bruce Paltrow, John Wells and Christopher Chulack (1997); Steven Bochco (1999); HBO (2000); and Stephen McPherson (2005). The award will be presented Jan. 25 at the DGA's 66th annual awards.
The DGA Diversity Award winner is selected by the guild's Diversity Task Force and was unanimously approved by the National Board.