Shonda Rhimes was encouraged by “Angry Black Woman” backlash: "I remember starting the day feeling one way and ending the day feeling very warmed”

"How To Get Away With Murder" star Viola Davis also spoke out about racism in Hollywood during an EW roundtable

By Anna Silman
September 3, 2015 11:42PM (UTC)
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Shonda Rhimes (Reuters/Fred Prouser)

Last year, the New York Times' then-critic Alessandra Stanley came under fire after referring to Shonda Rhimes as an “angry black woman” in a profile. While Rhimes was critical of the article at the time, in a recent Entertainment Weekly roundtable with her and some "Shondaland" stars, Rhimes acknowledges that one thing good that came out of the incident was the backlash the piece ignited.

“Very quickly, maybe because of Twitter, there were some really beautiful articles written in response that made me feel like, ‘Oh my god, there are some thinking people out there!’” she said. “Because if that had gone uncommented upon, I would’ve felt like, That’s what’s out there. I remember starting the day feeling one way and ending the day feeling very warmed.”


After "Grey's Anatomy" lead Ellen Pompeo commented that “If any good comes out of ignorance, then I’ll take the ignorance,” Viola Davis was quick to point out how harmful that ignorance can be.

“I understand what Ellen is talking about, but I’ve been on the other side of ignorance,” Davis said. “Colorism and racism in this country are so powerful that the Jim Crow laws are gone, and we know most of segregation is gone, but what’s left is a mindset. As an actress, I have been a great victim of that.”

“There were lot of things that people did not allow me to be until I got Annalise Keating [the role she plays on "How To Get Away With Murder"]," Davis explained. "I was not able to be sexualized. Ever. In my entire career. And here’s the thing that’s even more potent: I’ve never seen anyone who even looks like me be sexualized on television or in film. Ever. When people say they’re tired of hearing that, I always say, ‘Okay, well, you give me an example and then I’ll stop talking about it. But I’m gonna talk about it until you hear it.’”


Read more excerpts from the piece over at EW, or when the full Shonda-centric issue hits newsstands Friday.

Shonda Rhimes, Actors Tease New Seasons of ‘Grey's Anatomy,' ‘Scandal'


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Alessandra Stanley Aol_on Shonda Rhimes Shondaland Viola Davis