Shonda Rhimes at Global Women's Rights Awards: "Lead the Life You Want to Lead"

Photo by Rich Fury/Invision/AP
Shonda Rhimes

The 'Grey’s Anatomy' creator was honored along with Jenji Kohan at the tenth annual event.

The tenth annual Global Women’s Rights Awards ceremony, presented by the Feminist Majority Foundation on May 19, honored Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes and Orange Is the New Black creator Jenji Kohan for changing the face of media.

The honorees and their families weren't the only ones at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood — actors from Rhimes’ and Kohan’s shows came out to support not only their showrunners, but also women in media. James Pickens Jr. (Grey’s Anatomy), Kevin McKidd (Grey’s Anatomy), Jason George (Grey’s Anatomy), Dan Bucatinsky (Scandal) and Jeff Perry (Scandal) wore shirts that read, “This Is What a Feminist Looks Like.” The actors also performed a dance set to Earth, Wind and Fire’s “Shining Star” for the audience.

When asked what it meant to him to identify as a feminist, George said, “In a nutshell, I’m raised by a powerful educator [and] single mother. I’m married to a powerful ... career woman, an artist, and I’m trying to raise a powerful woman daughter.” He added, “Shonda’s making [female characters] sexual beings but not sexual objects. Shonda’s making them powerful women but with complexities; they’re not superwomen, they can’t do everything. They have flaws, they have feelings and they also kick ass in a lot of ways. Seeing that wakes people up.”

The night saw Viola Davis (How to Get Away With Murder) and Matthew Weiner (Mad Men) present to Rhimes and Kohan. Actresses from their respective shows, including Amy Brenneman (Private Practice), Kate Burton (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal), Taylor Schilling (OITNB) and Laverne Cox (OITNB) also gave speeches in gratitude to the two honorees.

Schilling shed light on some of the challenges women face in the entertainment industry: "I think that finding a voice, staying true to yourself and finding an authentic voice and making sure that is not being manipulated into something deemed acceptable by the industry is vital important work, and I think it is work that’s as timely as ever for everyone, particularly women."

She added, "Jenji’s strength and individuality and sense of freedom and her gutsiness have powerfully impacted me professionally, obviously, and personally as well. So I want to be like her when I grow up, and I’m thrilled to be honoring her."

Upon accepting her award, Rhimes said: “So lead the life you want to lead. Be whoever you want to be. Have the babies. Be the CEO. Lean out. Lean in on your own terms. Just run this thing.”

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