What ‘Scandal’ Creator Shonda Rhimes Wants You to Know About Hillary Clinton
At the final meeting of the Women’s Caucus of the Democratic National Convention on July 28, writer/producer Shonda Rhimes made her pitch for Hillary Clinton’s presidential candidacy. It was a heady moment. Clinton was slated to give her acceptance speech later that evening, introduced by a video produced by Rhimes, creator of the three big shows on ABC’s Thursday-night line-up: Gray’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. As the only African American and the only woman to achieved such a place in the annals of commercial television, Rhimes is a messenger with star power in both constituencies.
Hillary Clinton is Totally Focused on Saving the World
By Shonda Rhimes
I have been aware of Hillary Clinton my entire life. I was an aspiring writer fresh out of college when she became first lady. I became a mother when she became a senator, and by the the time she became secretary of state, I was a mother of three TV shows.
Hillary has always been out there in the ethers for me. I admire her, and I love the sort of pantsuit[-wearing], glass-ceiling[-shattering], smart-girl idea of Hillary. But I didn’t know her.
And then something extraordinary happened. I had the unexpected opportunity to spend some time with her. And now— I could have written some really super-uptight proper essay about Secretary Clinton, and used all kind of crazy words. I could use this time to discuss her passion for international women’s issues, and her devotion to lifting up women and children here at home. I could talk about her lifelong commitment to service. I could tell you a story about how she went under cover as a housewife to [prove] segregation, when Alabama was segregating public schools.
Or I could just remind you that because she had the audacity to refuse to conform to the traditional first lady role when she first came to Washington, that she suffered a lot of body blows in the War on Women. I could remind you what we younger feminists often forget—that in the 1990s, Hillary Rodham Clinton was a one-woman feminist revolution.
But because I know her—I know her—I know that’s not what I need you to know about her. I know that what you need to know more. I mean, I know Hillary. I mean, we don’t do each other’s hair, and I don’t call her up and say, “Hey girl, hey.” I don’t [tell] her stories about my bad dating life, and she doesn’t stand in my kitchen and tell me that my food needs more seasoning. But that’s because I don’t cook or have a stove.
But I do know her. We’ve spent time together. We’ve talked, we’ve shared stories. We’ve discussed life—hers, mine. We’ve laughed, we’ve gotten serious, we’ve gotten real. At some point, I’m going to get her to dance. But I mean it when I say, I know her, I know her some, I know her enough. And I know her enough to tell you with authority that I know her. And so, here’s what I know you need to know from someone who knows her. Or, at least, here’s what I know you need to know from me, who knows her.
Hillary—she’s just like us. No, really—like just exactly like me, exactly like you—she’s just like us. Like many of us, she’s a mother—she talks about her kid a little too much. Like many of us, she’s a woman who works a little too much; like a lot of us, she’s a person who worries too much. And like all of us, she carries fears about the future much too much too much. She has hopes, she has dreams—for her family, for her friends, for her country, for her planet. Just like us.
She’s real, and human and flawed and funny and normal and weird and hilarious and serious and kind and lovely and dorky and interesting. I mean, spend a little time with her and you start to realize that, aside from the fact that she is a thousand times smarter than anyone else you ever met, she really is just like us. Maybe better engineered than us.
The pieces of the puzzle of her humanity have been gathered to build a person who is just like us, but willing.
She’s like the lady who lives across the street from you, but incredibly smart and focused on saving the world. Or that friend—only super-smart and totally all about saving the world. Or the girl who sits in front of you in political science class, only way more smart about political science and, yes, totally focused on saving the world.
Bless her heart, the woman’s got this deep gene that makes her think about saving the world all the time. She talks about how to help people and fix problems a lot—which is oddly comforting. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to saving the world, I’m pretty much qualified to do two things: write television shows, and run screaming. No one’s gonna call me to save the world/ I’m not gonna call me; I’m gonna call Hillary.
And that’s not a bad thing. There’s something to be said for being accomplished, for having experience, and knowing what you are doing. I personally found the world to be a scary place. As a black mother of black children, I do not sleep as well at night. I’m worried about the country that they’re going to step into, because if feels like there are two Americas. And I don’t care how much I own Thursday nights; it doesn’t feel like one of those Americas wants to include me.
I have said this to Hillary, and I have heard her talk very deliberately about race. I have watched her listen, I have watched her learn, I have watched her grow. And I know that we are going to get somewhere with her when she’s in that big, oval room. She cares about the future, and she believes that every tomorrow should be better than every yesterday—for everyone.
America was founded on the ideal that every single person in this nation has the right to pursue their dreams. No matter what, no matter who you are, no matter where you came from, no matter what. And that’s not happening. And it’s certainly not going to happen in the future without her.
Be it the color of your skin, your gender, who you love—too much is going to be denied, too many people are going to be denied the chance to have the American dream. And Hillary knows that can’t be. Hillary said the American dream belongs to all of us. She wants to fix the prison system, she wants to make sure that the promise of Lady Liberty applies to every American. She wants to make the planet safe for the next generation. She wants to make sure that when a woman goes to work and sits down at her desk, she does not discover that the man sitting next to her and does the same job makes more money. She wants to give us all a sense of safety when we send our kids to school or the movies or to church, so that they come back home alive. She wants the America that we hand over to our children to be better than the one that we were handed. Just like all of us.
I’ve been impressed with Hillary for a long time. I’ve been impressed with what she’s been through, by what she’s accomplished, by what she stands for. The life of public service is one of America’s most admirable sacrifices. No one intelligent goes into it on a whim. And one certainly doesn’t engage it for 30 years unless one really cares about helping others.
Hillary is a force of nature. Hillary is a badass. Hillary gets it done. Hillary is squad goals, people. Hillary would probably make someone like, the best, best friend ever. I get the feeling that if you choose a best friend, she’ll probably laugh at your jokes, because she likes to laugh. But mostly, if she was your best friend, nobody better mess with you, because Hillary does not play. I’ve been sitting around wishing that maybe I could slot myself in as her best friend, but I realized that probably wasn’t gonna happen—and not just because the Secret Service has asked me to stop stalking her. It’s not gonna happen because Hillary has pretty much doubled down on her commitment to doing good. And that commitment means that Hillary’s only got one thing in mind—that commitment means that Hillary’s best friend right now is America.
I know we’re going to have our first woman president one day, and I want that day to be this January, and I want that woman to be Hillary. And it’s not because she’s a woman. That insults women. That insults Hillary…
I can’t think of a better example of what hard work, sacrifice, big-dog ferocity, gentle empathy and plain good common sense look like, embodied in one person. I want my kids to see that. I want them to know that that’s what it takes to run the world. That is what a world leader should look like. That is what I want to mean when I say to my daughters, ‘Anyone can grow up to be president.’
I know her and now I hope all of you know her, too, so that when the world needs saving, we can all call her. But first, we have to make her president. Please vote, and bring everybody else you know to vote. Thank you for listening.