Year of Yes: How Shonda Rhimes (showrunner of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal) became a TV Titan…and how you can too…

By Emma Hallewell

Shonda Rhimes is awesome. That’s just a fact.

She’s one of the most powerful people in American TV, with her shows running back to back on Thursday nights on ABC. They even promote it with the slogan ‘TGIT’ (Thank God It’s Thursday).

That’s badassery right there.

You may or may not have heard of Shonda Rhimes, but if you have, it might be because she gave herself the challenge of a ‘Year of Yes’. (She’s written a book about it. Hint: that’s awesome too).

In her ‘Year of Yes’ Shonda challenged herself to say yes to all the opportunities that came her way – especially ones she had refused in the past out of fear.

Meet President Obama? Yes. Appear on Jimmy Kimmell? Yes. Give the Dartmouth Commencement Speech? Yes. Be a guest star on The Mindy Project? Yes. Write a book? Yes. Give a Ted Talk about that book? Yes. Play with her children more? Yes.

You might have read that last one and thought – hey! That’s not scary or work related! Why is that on the list? But it was the most important yes of all for Shonda and it massively improved her writing.

In the process of facing her fears and not allowing herself to use the word ‘no’ Shonda became more well-known and more successful. Saying yes meant she branched out into new industries and is now an author. It completely transformed her life for the better and Shonda Rhimes became a brand – a Titan – synonymous with success, power and incredible storytelling.

But most importantly for any storytellers reading this: her work really did improve. Shonda saying yes to everything gave her more energy, more inspiration for her work and more appreciation for her success. Making herself say yes to playing with her children whenever they asked made Shonda a happier person, which made her enjoy her work more, which made her work better etc. etc.

So I challenge you to say yes to the things that you are intimidated by, or that you think you’re not ready for. Defeat that scary blank page and write your story. Send your script out. Ask people for feedback on your work. Audition for the part you desperately want. Say yes to that networking invitation. Apply for that job you were aiming to be applying for five years from now. Ten years from now!

Yes. Yes I will. Yes I can. Yes.

Say yes and see what happens…

I bet it’s gonna be great.

Team LondonSWF

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