Shonda Rhimes was honored today with the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award at The Hollywood Reporter's Women In Entertainment Breakfast. Rhimes, who some people named Kara Brown believe to be an actual superhero, delivered an excellent speech about finding success as a black woman in field that has historically been less than hospitable to black people, women and generally anyone who is not a white man.
The speech, titled "On Ceilings Made of Glass," opens with Rhimes questioning why exactly she was given this award—not because she's not amazing, she's totally amazing—but because she believes there to be so many deserving women in Hollywood.
I come from a very large, very competitive family. Extremely competitive. And by competitive, I mean, my mother says we're not allowed to play Scrabble anymore when we get together because of the injuries and the tears. One of the rules in my family is you don't ever get a trophy for participation, you don't get a trophy for just being you. So getting an award today BECAUSE I'm a woman and an African-American feels…I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin. I didn't do anything to make either of those things happen.
To get all Beyonce about it, people: "I woke up like this."
She goes on to explain that she alone has not broken any class ceilings—that she has benefited from a collective chipping away over time that has ultimately allowed her to break through.
30 years ago, I'd think maybe there'd be a thousand secretaries fending off their handsy bosses back at the office and about two women in Hollywood in this room. And if I were here, I would serving those two women breakfast.
50 years ago, if women wanted to gather in a room, well it had better be about babies or charity work. And the brown women were in one room over there and the white women were in a room over here.
From then to now…we've all made such an incredible leap.
Think of all of them.
50 years ago trying to get out of separate rooms, 30 years ago trying to not serve breakfast or be groped by their bosses, 15 years ago trying to make clear that they could run a department as well as that guy over there.
Rhimes ends by being proud of her personal success, of course, but also making it clear that she stands where she stand today through the collective efforts of all the women in Hollywood who came before her.
Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman's footprints.
I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot.
So I'm breaking my family's rule today. This is a trophy for participation. And I am beyond honored and proud to receive it. Because this? Was a group effort.
You can marvel at the always magnificent Shonda Rhimes and read the full speech here.
Image via AP.