Award-winning writer and producer Shonda Rhimes is one of the most influential women in Hollywood. She is best known for creating and producing 'Grey's Anatomy,’ a culturally diverse TV show that drew a dedicated audience of nearly twenty million viewers. But over the years Rhimes has electrified the television landscape with a series of rich, knockout dramas featuring diverse people of color. For her work, Rhimes has received numerous honors including the prestigious Peabody Award. Then in 2013, she was appointed by President Obama to serve as Trustee for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
After growing up in an academic household, Rhimes got her start as a writer at Dartmouth College. While she worked on her degree in English and creative writing, Rhimes also wrote articles for the college newspaper. As a member of the Black Underground Theater Association at Dartmouth, she also directed and performed in student plays. Mara Sabinson, a drama professor at the College, recalled being impressed with the leadership skills Rhimes displayed at such a young age. "What I remember most was how respected Shonda was among her peers," Sabinson said of the prolific writer, who would later be named by TIME magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
Since graduating in 1991, Rhimes has been vocal about her connection to her alma mater. She credits Dartmouth for making her the fearless leader she is today (she oversees some 800 actors, writers, crew members, and producers). "One of the reasons I think I have been successful in Hollywood is because I'm always comfortable in a room full of frat guys,” Rhimes noted. “I've never been a shrinking violet in any room, because I went to Dartmouth. Dartmouth really gave me something that I don’t think I would have had otherwise. I can run with the dogs—the big dogs—because of that."
In 2014 Rhimes returned to Dartmouth to impart her wisdom to the school's graduating students. In a very candid and entertaining commencement speech, the wildly successful writer and producer urged students to focus less on dreaming and more on doing. She was also very straight forward about her thoughts on what passes for activism today, noting that a "hashtag is not helping."
When Dartmouth's President asked if the celebrity grad would like to come back to teach at some point, Rhimes was quick to show interest, noting that her involvement with students was especially moving. In addition, as a member of the Centennial Circle of Alumnae, Rhimes has already helped raise millions of dollars for her beloved alma mater.