News Release: December 17, 2014
TV Writer-Producer Shonda Rhimes to Receive WGAW's 2015 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement
2015 Award Recipient
Acclaimed television writer-producer Shonda Rhimes (Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder), whose work has played a pivotal role in helping diversify the face of primetime television both behind and in front of the camera, is set to receive the Writers Guild of America West's 2015 Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement.
Rhimes' outstanding contributions to television writing, including her signature brand of progressive programming featuring diverse portrayals and narratives written by diverse writers, will be recognized at the WGAW's upcoming 2015 Writers Guild Awards West Coast ceremony on Saturday, February 14, 2015, at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.
"Few writers in television have had the impact on the medium that Shonda Rhimes has. Her ability to create, consistently, television that is, at once, excellent, provocative and crowd-pleasing is almost the least of it. She is a breaker of barriers. On screen, she has taken us places that were previously off limits, giving voice to characters who had been voiceless and tackling issues and touching nerves without fear. Off screen, she has been a mentor to a generation of writers – some of whom are women, some of whom are writers of color – all of whom will look to her as a pioneer in a business that is now more diverse and more vibrant because she played her part. She is, in every way, the embodiment of the qualities that the Television Laurel celebrates, and her Guild is proud welcome her into the select group of writers so honored," said WGAW President Chris Keyser.
Rhimes is the prolific writer, executive producer and creator of the hit ABC series Grey's Anatomy and Scandal, in addition to creating the hit Grey's Anatomy spinoff series Private Practice, which ran for six seasons on ABC. Rhimes is also Executive Producer of the ABC series How to Get Away with Murder, which premiered in 2014 as the number one new show of the Fall in adults 18-49.
As an EP on Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, Rhimes has scored the rare feat of having three drama series currently airing consecutively on a Thursday night primetime programming block on ABC.
For her work on Grey's Anatomy, now entering its eleventh season, Rhimes shared a 2007 Producers Guild Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama (having also been nominated in 2006 and 2008), the 2007 Golden Globe for Outstanding Television Drama, the 2007 Lucy Award for Excellence in Television from Women in Film, consecutive wins from 2007 – 2011 for the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Writing in a Dramatic Series, as well as five wins for Outstanding Drama Series.
Along with her Grey's Anatomy writers, Rhimes shared a 2006 Writers Guild Award for New Series, as well as received WGA nominations for Dramatic Series in 2006 and 2007. Rhimes also shared Emmy nominations for Outstanding Drama Series in 2006 and 2007 for her work on Grey's, as well as earned an Emmy nomination for penning Grey's 2006 episodes, "It's the End of the World as We Know It, Parts I & II."
For her work on Scandal, Rhimes was the 2013 winner of the AFI Award, Peabody Award and NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Drama Series, as well as received a nomination for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series. Rhimes was the recipient of the 2012 GLAAD Golden Gate Award, 2010 RAINN Hope Award, and a 2009 GLSEN Respect Awards Honoree. Additionally, for her work on Private Practice, Rhimes received the Television Academy Honors award in 2010 and 2011, as well as the Prism Award for Outstanding Writing for a Drama Series in 2011.
Rhimes has twice been included in Time Magazine's 100 list of the most influential people along with Fortune's "50 Most Powerful Women in Business," Variety's "Power of Women," and Glamour's "Women of the Year." In 2013, Rhimes was appointed by President Obama to serve as Trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. In 2014, Rhimes and her Shondaland producing partner Betsy Beers received the Directors Guild of America's Diversity Award. Rhimes was also a 2014 recipient of the W. E. B. Du Bois Medal from Harvard and was named to both Vanity Fair's 2014 New Establishment list and Marie Claire's New Guard List for the most connected women in America.
On December 10, Rhimes received The Hollywood Reporter's Sherry Lansing Leadership Award presented at THR's 2014 Women in Entertainment gala, recognizing a woman who continues to be both pioneer and leader in her industry. In March, Rhimes is set to receive Human Rights Campaign's Ally for Equality Award for creating some of the most ground-breaking portrayals of LGBT people on television, as well as being a longtime advocate for LGBT equality. This April, Rhimes will also be inducted into the National Association of Broadcaster's NAB Broadcasting Hall of Fame.
Beyond her success with network television, Rhimes' screenwriting credits include the feature films The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement (2004) and Crossroads (2002). Her other television writing credits include the telefilm biopic, Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, produced by HBO and nominated for numerous awards, for which Halle Berry won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Best Actress in a miniseries for her portrayal of Dandridge. Rhimes created her production company Shondaland in 2004.
Rhimes holds a BA from Dartmouth College in English Literature with Creative Writing. As director of Dartmouth's Black Underground Theatre and Arts Association, her work earned her numerous awards for excellence. She received her MFA from the USC School of Cinema-Television, where she was awarded the prestigious Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship. Rhimes returned to Dartmouth in June of 2014 to deliver the commencement address.
One of the industry's most vocal advocates for diversity within the entertainment industry, Rhimes currently serves as Co-Chair of the WGAW's Inclusion and Equity Advisory Group, which helps strategize and consult with the Guild on its ongoing effort to enhance employment opportunities for diverse writers.
The child of educators, Rhimes blames her parents for her rampant addiction to books. The youngest of six, she was born and raised outside of Chicago, IL, and now resides in Los Angeles with her three daughters.
Named after one of the most influential writers in entertainment history, the Paddy Chayefsky Laurel Award for Television Writing Achievement is the WGAW's highest award for television writing, given to writers who have advanced the literature of television throughout the years and made outstanding contributions to the profession of the television writer. Past Television Laurel Award recipients include Steven Bochco, Susan Harris, Stephen J. Cannell, David Chase, Larry David, Diane English, Marshall Herskovitz & Ed Zwick, Joshua Brand & John Falsey, and, most recently, Garry Marshall.