Shonda Rhimes may have defined Thursday night television, but she’s now dictating the medium’s future. When the Grey’s Anatomy creator signed a nine figure, four-year deal with Netflix last year, she cemented her place at the forefront of entertainment’s digital future-and pioneered Netflix’s handsome producer paydays.
Rhimes, who created and executive produced ABC hits including Scandaland How To Get Away with Murder, is now developing eight shows for the streaming service through her production outfit ShondaLand.
“We are powerful women and when we say we have power, what we are really saying is that we deserve to have power. We deserve whatever good thing it is that we are getting,” said Rhimes at Elle magazine’s 25th annual Women in Hollywood celebration.
Demanding what you deserve can feel like a radical act.
Worth an estimated $135 million, Rhimes is the wealthiest female showrunner–the person who oversees writing and production of each TV episode-in Hollywood. She has said that her deal, which reportedly includes a base salary of $150 million with incentives that could bump it much higher, is bigger than the $300 million secured by Ryan Murphy.
Rhimes is just one of the world’s most powerful women in media and entertainment effecting change and impacting her industry with groundbreaking deals and inclusive storytelling. Take Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy, who has helped pioneer Star Wars‘ most inclusive casting yet. Under Kennedy’s stewardship, Kelly Marie Tran became the first woman of color to have a lead role in the multi-billion dollar franchise, playing Rose Tico in 2017’s The Last Jedi.
Across the lot, Dana Walden has seen her power grow in the studio landscape. Following Disney’s $71.3 billion acquisition of the majority of 21st Century Fox, the former chair and CEO of Fox Television Group will also head up 20th Century Fox TV, ABC Studios, the Freeform network, ABC-owned TV stations, ABC Entertainment and several other divisions.
Walden believes more women need to be in decision-making roles at every level. “There must be women in the highest ranks of every organization, and meaningful female representation on every corporate board,” Walden told Forbes last year.
Our recruiting and our training has to be oriented to ensure that we’re identifying and nurturing future generations of female leaders.
Entertainment’s most powerful span Hollywood, music and publishing. As each segment continues to deal with the fallout of the #MeToo movement, women have taken action. Anna Wintour, who continues to control Vogue, suspended photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino amid sexual misconduct charges and set a code of conduct for models and photographers.
Wintour teamed up with music power woman Beyoncé for the September issue of Vogue; she was given creative control over her cover photo and leveraged that power to hire the first African American photographer to shoot the cover in the magazine’s 126-year history. Another first for Beyoncé: In 2018, she became the first black woman to headline Coachella.
Here’s the full list of Media and Entertainment power women:
1. Oprah Winfrey, Media mogul
2. Shari Redstone, Vice Chair, CBS & Viacom
3. Bonnie Hammer, Chair, NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment
4. Donna Langley, Chair, Universal Pictures
5. Anna Wintour, Artistic Director, Conde Nast
6. Beyoncé, Singer
7. Dana Walden, Chairman, Disney TV Studios and ABC Entertainment
8. Katharine Viner, Editor-in-Chief, Guardian
9. Taylor Swift, Singer
10. Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief, The Economist
11. Kathleen Kennedy, President, Lucasfilm
12. Shonda Rhimes, Showrunner
13. Arianna Huffington, Founder & CEO, Thrive Global
14. Serena Williams, Tennis player
15. Shobhana Bhartia, Chair, HT Media
16. Priyanka Chopra, Actress
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