Film & TV

Breaking into the Industry

Shonda Rhimes

Lesson time 13:07 min

Shonda reveals her top tips for networking, working entry-level jobs, and her thoughts on film school.

Shonda Rhimes
Teaches Writing for Television
In 6+ hours of video lessons, Shonda teaches you her playbook for writing and creating hit television.
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It's interesting. I think that USC was really instrumental for me in getting me contacts and getting me acclimated. I came to Los Angeles not knowing a single person. And getting an internship, getting to know people, getting the introductions to things, USC was very helpful for that. Here's what I think, because I think film school is invaluable in that it's an amazing little lab. And I did learn, I did come in knowing a lot about production because of it, and that was really helpful as well. But I think in terms of just financially, if you are hurting for money, if you have to take out a lot of student loans, if there is not a scholarship waiting for you and you are worried about that-- and frankly it's different now. Student loans back when I went to school, because I'm an old lady, and when you might be going to school now are just different. So to me, if you have to make the choice between going to film school and coming out to LA and getting a job as a PA on a set, or getting a job as a PA in some writers office or something like that, get the job, because I think that there is a lot to be done with you writing at night, and getting a job during the day, and working your butt off and making contacts that way. I think it's very, very, very expensive to go to school right now. And while I think that everybody should get a college education, I'm not necessarily sure you need a film school education. A thing that I think can be really helpful for people when they got a job, and people don't seem to know this right now, and it feels very obvious. If you get a job in the industry, making someone coffee, making someone copies, running someone's errands, you better make the best coffee they've ever had. And it better be with a smile. The ones who seem flat out pissed that they're there, or frustrated, or lazy, or entitled, you want them to go away, because you think, man, they're just sucking the air from the room. You better run those errands as cheerfully as you possibly can with the most energy. And the reason is is because the entitled, sort of I can't believe I'm doing this thing gets very old, very fast. Now, I say this, and I can say this, because when I got my first job as an assistant, I was the most spoiled, miserable, pathetic assistant in the world. I had the most sour look on my face all the time. I used to drive around the corner from the studio and cry all lunch hour, because I had to do all these terrible things, like feed the fish. And I was pathetic. I mean, it was embarrassing. I embarrassed myself frankly, all the time. And I cannot believe I didn't get fired really fast. I was very lucky that they were nicer to me than I would have been. But I do think that there's something about this job that-- it's a hard job. You want to get noticed and you want people to notice you, because you have a great attitude. People who have a gr...

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When Shonda Rhimes pitched Grey’s Anatomy she got so nervous she had to start over. Twice. Since then, she has created and produced TV’s biggest hits. In her screenwriting class, Shonda teaches you how to create compelling characters, write a pilot, pitch your idea, and stand out in the writers’ room. You’ll also get original pilot scripts, pitch notes, and series bibles from her shows. Welcome to Shondaland.


Students give MasterClass an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars.

I took the class in hopes of gaining excitement for writing for tv or movies, and this class has accomplished that. My next step is to start over, this time with a purpose.

Shonda's easy explanations and broken down layouts of writing made it digestible and easy to understand.

Shonda was an open book. It was a great insight to her process.

Understanding of how TV writing is different to writing for film; a better understanding of storytelling; etc...


Millie J.

Shonda, what are your recommendations for target agents and managers as a writer? How can you research who would be able to best represent you and your brand as as writer? Would you submit your script (or a section of it) to them like you would your H/S & resume? Thank you!

Marcus M.

I like her perspective on mentors. Great industry advice for multiple industries, not just shows or films...

Joe D.

I haven't watched the whole lesson yet so maybe I will be sorry for asking my question so quickly...but getting an entry level job like a PA or a jr writer in a writers room and networking and surrounding myself with peers when I was 20, 25 seems very different to me now that I'm 51. I was a drama major/actor who decided to leave the business of acting in my 20s and then worked for 25years on a wall street trading floor. Now I'm writing and creating my own stuff in what seems like a bit of a vacuum. My life experience and production experience is very different than when I was younger. Just a really different perspective than if I were in my 20s trying to start my career. Any advice here? How does a 50 year old man get a job in a writers room. Even an entry level job?


Best MasterClass piece I saw so far. Would give a lot to have a coffee with you ^^ kind regards, Pedro

Heather S.

So the link to this lesson- Breaking into the Industry- is broken, error code comes up? What next?

Jessica T.

Writing is the one thing I have maintained over the years. Now I just need to get it seen.

ernest C.

I LOVE TO WRITE!!! a little note about me, in grad school three different occasions occurred when my professors told me they looked forward to READING MY ASSIGNMENTS!!!! As a student those statements "scared the fluid out of me".


I have been through everything Ms. Rhimes is talking about. I moved to New York by myself, got an internship with Playwrights Horizons, William H. Macy and Fisher Stevens told me I was the hardest working person they'd ever met. I am still hopeful. (lol).


I have had so many ups and downs. I have given up so many times. The problem is, I can't stop writing. I thought I was done, then Masterclass pops up. OMG!!!

La'Trisa H.

To me mentor/mentee relationships are organic! Nothing should be forced and learning can take place without mentoring.