Shonda Rhimes and the normalization of diversity
Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes is a successful lead in the entertainment industry, however her love for the word “diversity” is waning. According to Kerry Washington, during a panel at Vulture Festival LA, the Scandal actress explained that “Shonda really does not love the word ‘diversity. She talks about abandoning the word ‘diversity’ and replacing it with ‘normalizing.’”
Rhimes is one of the most successful African American female TV creators in the history of the business, but her idea to simply normalize the presence of minorities on TV may be her crowning achievement. In avoiding the idea of tokenism, Rhimes has created worlds where its less about race or gender roles, and more about solving on screen issues that everyone deals with.
“When you’re the only woman in the room, or the only person over 40, or the only LGBTQ person, you don’t get to enter into conversations about what that looks like,” Washington continued. “But when we normalize that combination, then we get to explore what difference means and how it feels and how it lives in the world.”
While I’m usually not a fan of moving away from the term diversity (I think it does a good job of explaining the need for gathering different opinions), I do like how Rhimes considers the term and looks to replace it with a greater solution. On that note, I want to emphasis that this idea is great for the entertainment world including TV and film, and should not be used in other industries. Showing the similarities between everyone is a good idea in shows like Scandal in order to solve problems on screen, but in creating real time solutions, ignoring dividing factors that decrease opportunities for certain groups is not practical.