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How Shonda Rhimes Earned $140 Million Net Worth

Shonda Rhimes is known for her making one hit TV show after another. The showrunner, responsible for making “Grey’s Anatomy” and “Scandal” a worldwide sensation, is among the highest-paid people on TV. She even confirmed it herself.

In 2018, Rhimes talked about being the “highest-paid showrunner on television” during the 2018 Elle Women in Hollywood Celebration in Beverly Hills, California. Speaking in front of some of Hollywood’s well-respected audiences like Angela Bassett, Charlize Theron, Mia Farrow, Keira Knightly, and Lady Gaga, she discussed her status as the highest earner on TV to inspire other women to chase after their dreams. Rhimes currently has about $140 million, according to Celebrity Net Worth. But how did she earn it? Here is a look back on Rhimes’ successful career and how she could rake in millions of dollars on TV.

Shonda Rhimes: Early Life

Rhimes is the youngest among the six children of Vera P., a dedicated college professor and Ilee Rhimes, Jr., a former university staff at the University of Southern California. She was born on January 13, 1970. Their family lived in the community known as Park Forest South, which is now referred to as University Park.

She showed her knack for storytelling as a young child. In previous interviews, Rhimes recalled that there was never a time when she did not think of being a writer. But she decided that she want to write for a different medium other than print after watching “The Colored Museum” on stage.

After completing her English and Film Studies degree at Dartmouth College in 1991, she relocated to San Francisco to work in McCann Erickson. Then she moved again to Los Angeles to enroll at the University of Southern California to learn screenwriting, where she received the Gary Rosenberg Writing Fellowship distinction for graduating at the top of her class.


She briefly worked as an assistant to Debra Martin Chase and as part of the Mundy Lane Entertainment production company owned by Denzel Washington after graduating from USC. Some of her early works include “Princess Diaries 2,” “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” and “Crossroads.”


Shonda Rhimes: Rise To Fame

By the early 2000s, Rhimes began her rise to success after getting hired at ABC. She initially pitched a story about war reporters to the network, but they turned it down. However, they were very impressed with Rhimes, so they asked her to create something else. ABC specifically requested if she could make a story revolving around a hospital setting. That is how “Grey’s Anatomy” was born.

After the first season finale, “Grey’s Anatomy” already had more than 20 million regular viewers. It catapulted the series to become ABC’s most successful and longest-running primetime series as of today. The series also won multiple awards and made Ellen Pompeo and other stars a household name worldwide. While the actors of the series rose to popularity over the years, Rhimes received more financial blessings behind the scenes. Her producing fee skyrocketed as the viewership increases. According to reports, the series earned $1.2 million from LifeTime and $1 million from Netflix for every episode, and Rhimes received 10% from these fees.

Rhimes’ success did not end with Grey’s. She established Shondaland and made a programming block deal with ABC in 2014 to air her shows in the network’s Thursday primetime slot. Dubbed as “Thank God It’s Thursday,” Rhimes was able to air her political drama “Scandal” and the legal drama series “How To Get Away with Murder” together with Grey’s. Both shows also earned critical and commercial success.


Shonda Rhimes: The Netflix Deal

While Rhimes was earning a lot at ABC, she got an even better deal with Netflix in 2017. The online streaming platform made a four-year exclusive contract with the showrunner worth $100 million. The deal made her the richest female showrunner in Hollywood.

She is currently working on an upcoming drama called “Inventing Anna,” based on an article about real-life fraudster Anna Delvey. As of 2020, Rhimes has over 12 other projects in line for Netflix.


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