Having created Grey's Anatomy, Shonda became the first African-American woman to write and produce a top-rated TV show.
Shonda grew up in University Park, a southern suburb of Chicago.
Shonda comes from a family of storytellers who are obsessed with reading. She herself reads various types of books -- from trashy novels to serious literature.
As an alumna of Darthmouth, Shonda often makes references to her school in her scripts. She wrote for the college paper and was a member of and a director of BUTA (Black Underground Theatre and Arts Association) and other theater groups.
In May 2007, Shonda was recognized as one of the Time 100 people who help shape the world.
Shonda finds personal gratification at home with her family while she finds creative gratification in her words coming to life through the actors' interpretation of them.
Shonda believes that marrying the financial needs of the show with its creative needs is the most difficult aspect of being a producer.
When Shonda was about four years old, she used to speak into her parents' tape recorder telling stories her mom would later transcribe.
Shonda indicates that Meredith Grey is the Grey's Anatomy character who best represents her personality although some similarities may be drawn from the no-nonsense nature of Miranda Bailey and Cristina Yang.
Shonda is the youngest among two brothers and three sisters.
Shonda has a masteral degree in Fine Arts at the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television.
In 2007, Shonda won the Gloden Globe for "Best Drama TV Series" for the ABC show Grey's Anatomy.
Initially unable to find work in the entertainment industry, Rhimes bounced from career to career; working in advertising, office administration, and even as a job counselor for the disabled.
Rhimes adopted a daughter in 2003. Her name is Harper.
Rhimes credits her stint as a high-school candy striper with planting the early seeds of her interest in the hospital environment.
Shonda: Focus on something outside yourself. Devote a slice of your energies towards making the world suck less every week. Some people suggest that doing this will increase your sense of well-being. Some say it's just good karma. I say that it will allow you to remember that, whether you are a legacy or the first in your family to go to college, the air you are breathing right now is rare air. Appreciate it. And don't be an a--hole.
Shonda: College changed me in many ways. Dartmouth is where I grew up, began to truly experience life and think of myself as a citizen of the larger world. It's where I began to feel true confidence in myself as a writer. It's where I discovered theater; it's where I discovered ME.
Shonda: I joke that I have one daughter and nine actors, not because actors are children in any way, but because you want to create that same nurturing environment where they can grow and work.
Shonda: (describing "Grey's Anatomy") It is a chick show. I'm sorry, but at the end of the day it's a chick show because it's a show I want to watch, and I have no problem with that.
Shonda: (on having themes in "Grey's Anatomy") We absolutely start with [one]. I think a theme unifies the whole piece, affects the medical stories, affects the fun stuff going on with the characters. Obviously Meredith's voice-over is all about the theme.
Shonda: Medical school was one of my options. That now seems laughable since I am a germophobe and science-challenged.
Shonda: I know what the last scene will be the last time the show ever airs on network television. I love [the fact] that I know that, and I'll hold it out and keep writing to it.
Shonda: Writing is the only talent in this business of show that you can do whether or not anybody else is there or anybody is paying you or anybody is allowing you to do it.
Shonda: I think television has a responsibility to create a diverse world, period. And if we can do it on the show with not just the main cast but with the guest stars and people who come on, I think it's a good idea.
Shonda: (on the show "Grey's Anatomy") To me, it's not so much about the fact that it's medicine as about it's surgery and it's competition, and that feels fresh. It's also very much about their personal lives.
Shonda: (on coming up with the euphemism "vajayjay") I think no one is comfortable experiencing the female anatomy out loud — which is a shame considering our anatomy is half the population.
Shonda: (about staying on with "Grey's Anatomy") I always really hate when shows have a creator who walks away, because it can really change the show. This is my baby. It's my first television show. I don't wanna go anywhere.
Shonda: (in a letter to the "Grey's Anatomy" crew) I'm incredibly concerned about how deeply this is affecting you all. The crews are foremost on the mind of every TV writer and actor I encounter. And, while i do believe that the fight the WGA is fighting is a good one, I wish like crazy that it could be over so that we can all get back to work.
Shonda: (on the movie "Crossroads") I definitely felt [that] if there was any message I wanted that film to give, it was that friendships are powerful and can extend beyond race, class, and social standing.
Shonda: I love fiction, but I can't write four pages about the antique Armoire. It just makes my head hurt. But screenwriting's very clean. It's action, it's dialogue, and that happened somehow to suit me.
Shonda: There's something very sexy about surgery. You actually have your hands in someone else's body.