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Arts & Entertainment

Shonda's Journey

Shonda Rhimes

Lesson time 12:39 min

Learn how Shonda went from being a Dartmouth and USC graduate to the queen of Thursday night.

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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Both my parents are educators. They work in the education field. And what was great about that is having sort of two super nerdy intellectuals for parents meant that reading was pretty much everything in my family. Books were treasures in my family. My house was filled with them. My parents' idea of a really good time was a book or a game of chess. So I spent a lot of time in the library. My parents had a rule that I could read whatever I wanted, no questions asked. There was sort of no censorship based on my age, none at all. Which meant that I could sort of-- I remember very clearly reading The French Lieutenant's Woman when I was seven or eight and asking my mother about some very interesting words, and her saying, the dictionary's over there and going to look them up. But it also made me love reading. It made me love books, it made me love the written word. And that is everything. I think if you don't grow up with that around you, finding your sense of storytelling and finding your love of language and of words has to come from someplace else, it has to come from outside. I was lucky enough to have that around me all the time. Writing felt like something I could do mainly because I couldn't imagine doing anything else. I graduated from college and really felt lost, I mean truly felt lost. The idea of going to get one of those jobs that all my friends went to get-- I remember doing the interviewing process in New York and sitting in these meetings and people talking about things that sounded unbelievably boring to me, working in these offices and doing these things that I'm sure I would have been fine doing. I just didn't want to do them. And I'm kind of an overachiever, but I wanted to love what I did. So I literally moved to San Francisco and lived in my sister's basement and got a job at an advertising agency to just make a living, and I was miserable. And then I read somewhere, I think it was The New York Times. It was an article that said it was harder to get into USC Film School than it was to get into Harvard Law School. And I thought well, my parents will have to support that, because it's hard to get into, it's graduate school, and it's education. And so I applied and I got in. And my parents were supportive because they thought well, she can teach. If she gets out, she can teach this weird thing she wants to do. And it seemed exciting at the time. I think a lot of independent filmmakers were starting to come out and Sex, Lies, and Videotape had just become a thing, and that felt exciting. And so I went to film school thinking, let's try this, and really fell in love with it. I don't know that I ever doubted I could pursue something. And I think that is because I was raised by parents who were very positive in a lot of ways. And even though they weren't necessarily thrilled that I wanted to make a living out ...

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 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've learned the structure for taking an idea all the way through and what are the most important elements of a series. Staying true to the story and the characters. I feel inspired to follow through on my idea!

One of my favorite master classes ever. I wasn't sure what to expect but Shondra's teaching style and honesty was truly fantastic! Would recommend to anyone in the industry, not just writers.

I came into this class know the basics of screenwriting, and having a knack for dialogue. I'm leaving with a much deeper knowledge of what goes into planning a successful TV script. I have had a script idea in mind for several months, and now I have the tools to put the best version of that idea in writing.

Taking this course has inspired me to be more daring to just say yes to not letting obstacles get in the way and to have the confidence to show up without apology. Shonda does not hold back and shares how to become successful - not just in writing, but in the business of putting together a show and the qualities it takes to become successful in life.


A fellow student

What Shonda is giving us is these lessons are invaluable! I am beyond grateful for this class <3

A fellow student

I am in love with the muse of writing that is quite a preferred segment of my life! After aborting my love for writing at 13 years old due to my private writings being shown to my grandmother by my brother, I swore never to write my feelings on paper, especially the guts of my first sattvic love story for the boy next door. Fast forward to NOW! Shonda Rhimes is my new BFF for inspirational writing. I have stories to tell that Ms. Rhimes has reminded me of in so many segments of her transparent and enlightening pointings! Priceless Ms. Rhimes! Happy Holidays to AWEsome YOU!

Jaylani C.

Loved her insight and pointers for women of color. So enlightening and inspiring.

Graeme R.

The thought that, not so long ago, Shonda Rhimes could not have done what she has done because she was a woman, black, or both is deeply shocking.


i have been yearning to take part in this lesson, and i was not disappointed . i definitely will be reviewing the episodes multiple times but i hope to do well as a tv writer you have definitely helped .

Kandi C.

Loved saying there is nothing wrong with a little swag, and Its not bragging if you can back it up. I have a habit a not giving things my all because of the people around me.

A fellow student

Love the qoute ”The only limits to your success are your own imaginiation.”

Meichelle V.

Just finished my survey and I find the Downloads extremely helpful, my only suggestion is if there was a way to download all of the lessons in one shot (for us fast movers) it would be very helpful

Monya W.

Because of your journey as I've watched it unfold you are one of the reasons why I want to write for tv and film. I've written poetry for years but over the course of time my desire is to shift into film and tv. Thank you for being such an amazing inspiration.

A fellow student

Love , Love everything this woman has to say about this career and its journey.