Shonda Rhimes on Writing in the Age of Trump: ‘TV Has Power. My Pen Has Power.’

44th International Emmy Awards - Arrivals
Photo: Michael Loccisano/Getty Images

Ah, the power of the pen. Don’t underestimate it, TV powerhouse Shonda Rhimes noted in a speech last night during the International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton Midtown, upon receiving the Founders Award. The creator and executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away With Murder talked about her responsibility and respect for the power of television amid turbulent times. And although she didn’t specifically mention the president-elect by name, the irony was not lost: The hotel was the same location where he stood claiming victory less than two weeks ago on Election Day.

Watch her speech and read the full transcript here:

Thank you to the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for this honor.

It’s times like this that I’m reminded of how big a reach television has. It’s likely the most powerful source of communication in the world. We sit with you in your homes. You spend more time with many of my characters than you do with members of your own family. You see their faces. I tell their stories. And you care.

They hope, you hope. They dream, you dream. They rise, you rise. They fall, you fall. Three hundred million viewers in 67 countries. That comes with an enormous responsibility and I take it very seriously. Words have power. TV has power. My pen has power.

I don’t often think about that because I have not had to. People have asked me about diversity and I’ve chastised them. They’ve asked me about legacy, and I’ve ignored them. They talk to me about influence and I change the subject.

I’ve had the luxury of living in a free and fair and America where I’ve slept peacefully under the ideals of equality and the making of a more perfect union. The ideals are still there. Whether or not we’re actually going to live up to them is a question. A lot of people right now are scared, nervous or worried.

People of color, any woman who values her body and her choices, LGBTQ people, immigrants, Muslims, people with disabilities. They’re afraid that their voices will no longer be heard and they believe they’re being silenced. So I could never really think about it but now I’m really thinking about it: How big a reach television has. How it’s the most powerful source of communication and the world, how you see our faces and tell our stories and you care.

We hope, you hope. We dream, you dream. We rise, you rise. We fall, you fall. Three hundred million viewers in 67 countries. Words have power, TV has power. My pen has power. I’m thinking about that. Thank you.

Shonda Rhimes: ‘TV Has Power. My Pen Has Power.’