Film & TV

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 really enjoyed Shonda. When she said that it was fun for her at the end. I believed her because I could see it.

So far from what I read it sound like I signed up for the write claSS. Lol

This class is an example of what great teaching is all about, it is both inspiring and practical. I began this course with no idea about how to structure a TV show script, and have now completed two (just in time for submission to several contests). Many thanks to Shonda for sharing her wit, skill, story, and for the huge heaping of hope that she's poured out into the world.

Ms Rhimes offers great insights and insider information on crafting outstanding television. I've already urged my writing friends to sign up.


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.

Ryan L.

Akira Kurosawa said he still felt like a beginner when he got his lifetime achievement Oscar. My first novel is being published this year, and I can't imagine I'll ever get to a place where it seems normal that I get to say that. Wherever I go from here, this class will be a big inspiration.

Lisa S.

LOVE that you're still figuring it out. Every time you write something new is a discovery. That resonates with me, too, It's ALWAYS going into the dark cave of the unknown in the beginning and finding your way once you're in the darkness.