This Is What a Power Morning Looks Like for Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes - LEAD
Photo: Art Streiber/August Image

Shonda Rhimes dominates our Thursday nights and has introduced us to some of television’s most powerful female characters (we’re looking at you, Meredith Grey, Annalise Keating, and Olivia Pope). But Rhimes, an introvert at heart, says that learning to be the boss hasn’t always been easy.

“I went from being a movie writer who worked from home in my pajamas to a TV writer who had 300 people asking me what to do,” she says. “I had to learn how to be in charge, and it did not go so well at the beginning. It took me a while to really understand that power is not power if you don’t embrace it. If there’s nobody truly steering the ship, it’s a recipe for chaos.”

We asked her to share the morning rituals that help get her motivated so she can navigate that boat successfully every day. (Sorry, snoozers—when your days are as packed as Rhimes’s, a few quiet, meditative moments in the morning outweigh 10 more minutes in bed.)

5:30 a.m.

“Unless I’m totally exhausted, I wake up at around 5:30 so that I can have an hour and a half to myself before my children get up. It’s important to have a little time to just exist before anyone else is awake. Sometimes I use this time to write in my journal, but sometimes I just sit and stare out the window.”

7:00 a.m.

“I get my kids ready for school, then I drink a cappuccino, eat breakfast, and figure out what to wear for the day—my outfit varies depending on whether I’ll be in the office or on set.”

8:00 a.m.

“I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition while I get ready, and I read theSkimm online—it’s an informative recap of what’s going on in the world. Later I do a deeper dive into The Atlantic, The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal. I comb Twitter for fashion and décor buzz. Ideas for my shows can come from any of these sources.”

10:00 a.m.

“I used to get to the office at 9, but lately I’ve been going in at 10 to force myself to work a little bit less.”

10:15 a.m.

“Before I dive into meetings and other tasks, I chat with my three best girlfriends. We have a WhatsApp conversation that’s been going on forever, which is both hilarious and encouraging. I check it again at lunch and then at the end of the day. It’s so important to connect with people who care about you and who don’t work with you. They are my sternest critics and biggest cheerleaders—I don’t know what I would do without them.”

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