I’m Just A Girl Standing In Front Of Shonda Rhimes Asking Her To Be My Best Friend


Dear Shonda,

You don’t know me, but I am obsessed with you. I think we should be best friends forever. Why? Well, let me count the (many) ways.

You seem to be someone who is incapable of taking another person’s shit. I really like that. It is not within your genetic makeup to sidestep your own beliefs in order to conform to someone else’s vision of you. This, understandably, gives me life. Because, I do kind of take people’s shit sometimes. When I’m in sticky situations, I sometimes think to myself: what would Shonda do? And, I end up doing something I never expected to do, thanks to your indirect influence.

I sometimes find myself going down a path only to realize it’s not even my path. It’s just something I think I “should” be doing. They say comparison is the thief of joy, but I think dictating your life by other people’s “should’s” is the thief of joy, as well. I think you, Shonda, would agree. You do not seem like a person who has the word “should” in her vocabulary, unless it’s used to say something like, “We should give Avery another shirtless scene in Grey’s because that is the right thing to do.” (Also, this will serve as my official petition for more shirtless Avery scenes.)

You are your own genre of television, Shonda. There is comedy, drama, and Shonda. At the Emmy’s, they should be giving awards for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Shonda or Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Shonda. It should happen. I’ll call upon the counsel.

I think there are a lot of incredible women to look up to nowadays and that’s a wonderful thing. There are so many role models to choose from. But, you, Shonda, are mine. You are strong and gentle in equal measure. I feel like you have this truly unique way of being an instigator of change, where you do not fixate on what has not changed, but on what you can change. You empower yourself and others to not stew or wallow, but to rise. To rise against anything or anyone who tells them that they are not worth their voice, their space, or their corner of the world. You do not focus all your efforts on the lack of progress, but instead, effectively become the progress.

You haven’t tried to fit yourself around Hollywood. No. You entirely sidestepped Hollywood and created a whole different world. You wielded power—not to lord it over others—but to create something new and change the game entirely.

What’s incredible about the characters you have created is that their strength is in their absence of strength. You have managed to show growth and vulnerability on Primetime television, something that, along with finally introducing a truly diverse and equally representative cast, is groundbreaking in so many ways. (But, you already knew that!) You have also provided us with authentically nuanced and imperfect characters, free from stereotype and archetypal constraints. You did not care if your characters were “relatable” more than you cared that they were real and flawed and human and layered.

Plus, you gave us this line of dialogue: “Don’t let what he wants eclipse what you need. He’s very dreamy, but he’s not the sun. You are.” These three sentences changed my life. Thank you.

You are such a wonderful example of a woman who fully sees and understands all the ways in which she is constrained and simply refuses to abide. You do not play the rules. You are a woman who so clearly does not compromise herself it’s fascinating in how beautifully you execute it.

You make it seem effortless, but I know enough about life to understand that it is not effortless, that what you have created and what you have done to transform Hollywood (and the perceptions of all those viewers who tune in desperate for their Shonda-fix) is nothing short of remarkable, hard work. You make it seem easy, but I can understand that the ease in which its presented is a product of your conviction, of your uncompromising belief in the work that you do. There is no one in the world who understands the importance of your work more than you do. And, that is a potent combination to have in a person. Thank you for being that combination and for being so many things that I—as well as many others—have been so afraid to be. You are vulnerable, yet impenetrable. You are soft, yet solid. You are a contradiction that is made true somehow.

Man, look at me getting poetic up in here. You turn me into a poet, Shonda! That’s how much I admire you. There are very few people in this world whom I think truly embody their work in a fiercely passionate way, as you do. You stand behind yourself and never ask for permission. The way in which you are uncompromising in what you believe to be right and just—while also leading the charge in putting action to your words—is an art. It simply is.

I admire you perhaps more than this love story can ever contain. You have inspired me to become a woman whose words match up with her actions. You have unwittingly given me permission to tell the truth about my life, regardless of whether or not that truth is messy or weird or twisty or dark, and perhaps to tell the truth because it is those things. I have learned from you that my complication is not only warranted, but necessary, that complexity is what comes from a full, authentic life.

Thank you for being you so unapologetically and completely. I know this got deep and a little weird, but you are a beam of light shining out a path for the rest of us and I feel like I have to pay homage to how important you are.

Shonda for President?

Are we best friends yet?

Call me.