On Celings Made of Glass
The following piece is from Medium. It was written by Shonda Rhimes.
By: Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Rhimes at THR’s Power Woman Breakfast 2014
When my publicist called to tell me that I was receiving this honor, I screwed up my face and I said, “Are you sure? Me?” And he said, “Yes.”
And I said, “Why?” And then I said, “No really, WHY?”
And I made him call and ask for some written reason why I was getting this award. Because I really and truly was worried that there might have been some kind of mistake.
I want to pause for a beat here to say that I don’t say these things to be self-deprecating and humble. I am not a self-deprecating, humble person. I think I’m pretty fantastic. But I also think that The Hollywood Reporter Sherry Lansing Award is extraordinary — as is Sherry Lansing herself. So…no, really, WHY?
They sent a written reason why I was getting this award. It said many nice things but the main thing that it was said was that I was getting the award in recognition of my breaking through the industry’s glass ceiling as a woman and an African-American.
Well. I call my publicist back. Because I just don’t know about this. I mean, I’m concerned now.
I know this isn’t an award because I’m a woman or because I’m African-American.
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.”
Seriously. I know this isn’t an award because I’m a woman or BECAUSE I’m African American. I know that it’s really about breaking the glass ceiling that exists in the face of being a woman and being black in this very male, very white town.
But I haven’t broken through any glass ceilings.
Do they know I haven’t broken through any glass ceilings? I ask my publicist. He assures me that I have. I assure him that I have not. I have not broken through any glass ceilings. If I had broken through any glass ceilings, I would know. If I had broken through a glass ceiling, I would have felt some cuts, I would have some bruises. There’d be shards of glass in my hair. I’d be bleeding, I’d have wounds.
I was born with an awesome vagina and really gorgeous brown skin. I didn’t do anything to make either of those things happen.
If I’d broken the glass ceiling, that would mean I would have made it through to the other side. Where the air is rare. I would feel the wind on my face. The view from here — way up here where the glass ceiling is broken — would be incredible. Right? So how come I don’t remember the moment? When me with my woman-ness and my brown skin went running full speed, gravity be damned, into that thick layer of glass and smashed right through it? How come I don’t remember that happening?
Here’s why: It’s 2014.
This moment right here, me standing up here all brown with my boobs and my Thursday night of network television full of women of color, competitive women, strong women, women who own their bodies and whose lives revolve around their work instead of their men, women who are big dogs, that could only be happening right now.
Think about it.
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