What Justin Chambers from 'Grey's Anatomy' Has to Do With Shonda Rhimes and ABC's Entertainment Chief

Photographed By Ramona Rosales
Shonda Rhimes (left) and Channing Dungey

"The beginning of any show, ... it's terrifying," says Rhimes of her early days working with the network's Channing Dungey. "I remember, for my producing partner Betsy Beers and me, it was such a relief whenever Channing was around. She just got it. And she always told us the truth."

Dungey remembers the exact moment she met Rhimes. It was her second day on the job at ABC Studios (then Touchstone Television). "Aug. 9, 2004," recalls Dungey with certainty. "We were at the casting session for the Alex Karev role on Grey's Anatomy because the character hadn't been in the original pilot."

The part went to Justin Chambers, and he's still playing it 12 years later. But that's about all that has remained the same for these two. Dungey became an instant favorite in the drama department, ultimately moving over to the network and, as of February, running ABC Entertainment.

And Rhimes has become one of the most prolific, successful and public showrunners in television history. More than a decade after the launch of Grey's, it's still the No. 1 drama on ABC, which now has a whopping five series — Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, among them — produced by Rhimes' Shondaland.

"The beginning of any show … it's terrifying," says Rhimes of her early days working with ABC. "I remember, for my producing partner Betsy Beers and me, it was such a relief whenever Channing was around. She just got it. And she always told us the truth."

Their respective careers now in the stratosphere, the dialogue between them remains one rooted in telling it like it is. "She has broader ambitions, and I understand that it's unrealistic, in the long term, that every single Shondaland show will be on ABC," says Dungey, turning to Rhimes and smiling. "But I will take all that I can get!"

This story first appeared in the 2016 Women in Entertainment Power 100 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.

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