In this inspiring TED Talk, Shonda Rhimes, the phenomenally talented producer, writer, director talks about her fears and how ‘yes’ changed her life and changed her. I’ve listened to the Audible book several times – she’s such an inspiration.
As someone who experiencing ‘the paralysis of perfection’, I am in awe of her accomplishments but I also understand the fear of putting myself ‘out there’.
I heard an NPR Fresh Air interview with her on several years ago, on Remembrance Day. Perhaps the date wasn’t a coincidence, because she is truly memorable. The interview is 33 minutes, but well worth the listen. You can catch it HERE.
Many folks who suffer from the ‘pursuit of perfection” and suffer from the resultant paralysis can resonate with one of her quotes:
It made it impossible for me to feel like I could let up on myself ever. Everything really did have to be perfect, because if it wasn’t perfect and we failed then I could point to a reason why we failed and it would’ve been my fault. I really didn’t want any of the shows to fail, and I didn’t want to be responsible for that. I didn’t want to feel like somebody was going to say, “We had a show with an African-American lead but it failed,” and have it be my fault. That did not seem tenable to me.
The National Post did a profile on her in this weekend’s newspaper, noting: “Since 2007, she has never not had at least two full-length network television series for which she was both executive producer and show runner (i.e. the person responsible for not just the overall scope of a show, but also the one actually writing most of it, too).”
They also commented on her “work ethic that would be the envy of even a genetically spliced bee-beaver hybrid.” Rhimes may be young, but she’s accomplished so much. Can you imagine having her as a mentor for a few weeks?
Her female characters are an inspiration , in part because they tend not to fit the classic trope of helpless heroine. As writers, we can learn from Rhimes’ ability to ” hit serialized audience pleasure centres” by creating compelling characters who are flawed but powerful, strong but emotionally engaged. They don’t always have to get it right, but they have to keep striving to be better.