For almost 20 years, Shonda Rhimes has reigned over drama television by writing and executive producing series, such as “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” “How To Get Away With Murder” and Netflix hit, “Bridgerton.”
The 52-year-old entertainment executive, at her busiest, was responsible for producing around 70 episodes of TV across up to four ABC dramas each year, according to Time.
Although Rhimes has garnered immense success, balancing her career with family obligations and self-care hasn’t always been easy. She credits her morning routine, hobbies, peers and a wellness trick from Beyonce for helping her stay motivated, according to a recent interview with the Wall Street Journal.
“Really trying to find the time to have that creative time is important, but so is acknowledging that I’m not a natural-born leader. I don’t have an MBA, I wasn’t trained to run a company. Surrounding myself with people who really know what they’re doing in a lot of those areas is important,” she told reporter Lane Florsheim.
The Chicago native launched her own production company, Shondaland, in 2005 and has continuously brought life to stories with strong, female leads. Rhimes’ latest limited series, “Inventing Anna,” illustrates the case of faux heiress Anna Delvey.
To get in her creative headspace, Rhimes sticks to a strict morning routine. “She has breakfast and does a quick workout before sitting down to write from 8 a.m. until noon. Her key to focusing is listening to music that she knows by heart on noise-canceling headphones. Right now, it’s the Encanto soundtrack,” Florsheim reports.
Rhimes told WSJ that, along with her morning tea, toast, and “Athletic Greens,” she drinks olive oil – something she learned from 28-time Grammy award winning artist, Beyonce. She also has various hobbies outside of work to keep her balanced, like playing the cello, cooking, and tending to her chickens. Rhimes also hopes to start journaling again, after taking a break to focus on raising her children.
“I used to journal every single day. And then I had children, and I am not kidding, never journaled again,” she told WSJ. “When I wrote my book ‘Year of Yes’, that was the closest I came to journaling again, and it was so healthy and helpful. I learned so much about myself by doing it.”
Rhimes’ 2015 memoir explores her life’s transformation when she spent an entire year saying yes to everything, something she previously struggled with due to her social anxiety, NBC BLK reports.
“Rhimes confesses to hiding her voice in her Grey’s Anatomy character Cristina Yang, allowing Yang to say all the things she wasn’t brave enough to say in the real world. But when Rhimes accepted that the real world could benefit from hearing her actual voice — that she could stand up and speak out on important issues and actually affect change — she swallowed her fears, wiped off her sweaty palms and began to speak,” NBC BLK’s Brooke Obie reported.
However, with speaking up comes negotiating, something Rhimes learned a lot about over the years. Rhimes shared her biggest lesson: if it’s something you can’t walk away from, you shouldn’t engage with it. “If you walk in thinking, “I can’t walk away,” then you’re not actually negotiating. You’ve already lost,” she told WSJ. “But I do think it is an important thing to think about: What’s your limit? What are you willing to walk away for, and what aren’t you willing to walk away for?”
Season two of Rhimes’ hit show, Bridgerton, premiered on Netflix on Friday, March 25, and is already trending on Twitter. According to Deadline, the show’s first season broke Netflix’s viewership record in January 2021 with 82 million households tuning in to watch the Regency-era romance drama.