Chapter 24 of 30 from Shonda Rhimes

Breaking into the Industry


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

Topics include: Film School • Networking • Writing Programs • Mentors

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

Topics include: Film School • Networking • Writing Programs • Mentors

Shonda Rhimes

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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Make Great Television

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 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.

Watch, listen, and learn as Shonda teaches you how to write, pitch, and create a hit TV show.

A downloadable workbook accompanies the class with lesson recaps and supplemental materials.

Upload videos to get feedback from the class. Shonda will also respond to select student questions.


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

It has given me great insight into the television industry, great tools to begin working on my script, and inspiration overall.

I loved this class! I especially liked lesson 25, the introvert's (me) lesson on writer's room etiquette.


I learned a lot of technical "how to get it done" information. The thought process behind Ms. Rhimes' creativity was an eye opener. She was specific & she was extremely helpful as well as motivating. I ran through this course quickly. Now, I'm going to take my time & go through it again as I prepare my own pilot. Thanks!


La'Trisa H.

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

George K.

are you kidding me?????????? Here in Greece is the opposite. We have many writers for few series. Our production is 9 series every year and we have more than 1000 writers. And the salary is 1,000 euros per month. And we work about 5 months a year. I have to move to the US.

Rachel T.

Hello everyone, I wrote a spec script for the Tru TV series, “I’m Sorry.” If anyone has watched a couple episodes and is interested in reading it and giving me feedback, please let me know. My spec script episode is called, ‘Karma, Kidneys and Cancer.’ Thanks so much!

Kim L.

Shonda mentioned "If you can write, and people can find your script, they will be thrilled to have it." My question is: Where exactly would you have your scripts available? Besides them being registered with the WGA or something similar, what platforms would you utilize where your scripts could be discovered? Thanks!

Hector V.

This without a doubt, is the most important lesson that I had to learn. I knew it, but I had to be told it. Thank you Ms. Rhimes.

Ben A.

It's so refreshing to hear you say you don't need film school. I just discovered this passion after graduating from college last semester, and I've already started my first post college job. My plan is to save up and stick to my day job as I write and try to make my way out to LA eventually. Thank you for the words of inspiration.

Jason H.

I would love to know her path of going from writing when she got home from work... to writing something that connected, which script was that. "How" did she get it in front of someone? Festival contest, like Austin maybe? Or, friend of a friend got it into an agent's hands. Did the script get made? How must longer did it take to go from that to her first series. I know a number of writers on shows who were always talented... but someone had to give them a chance. Everyone's backstory is so varied and amazing... some, it took decades and a career change... some got it right away.

Kelly K.

I want to offer a counter to the suggestion to not ask for a mentor. There are different types of mentors that she is referring to: a formal mentor that you have asked for or have been assigned and an informal one that happened to be a colleague, a schoolmate or some other acquaintance. As for the formal mentoring, I have asked for people to be my mentor and I have been assigned mentors in the past. In both cases, they were successful in helping me improve aspects of my leadership skills. A mentor simply is someone helping you. They can help you in many ways or maybe just one way. Keep in mind that you may ask a person to be a mentor who may not be a good mentor. Just politely exit out of the mentorship and find another. Mentoring others is also a way for you to learn your craft and yourself better. Please consider using a mentor for the rest of your life.

Cherise A. W.

I love when Shonda say, "If you can write, someone will hire you." That is great to know. You're amazing Thank you, Cherise A. Williams

Susan K.

My mentor told me in Hollywood, "Never let anyone be nicer to you than you are to them." The programs with May deadlines do ask for spec scripts of recent shows. I do humbly mention to lots of people I meet that I'm screenwriting and just Friday I got a connection with a producer for a show on Amazon Prime. It may not pan out, but speak up but don't be obnoxious. Also, I've written to people in the business who graduated from the same university and they've always be helpful.


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...