Shonda Rhimes, who owns ABC’s Thursday night (with hit dramas “Grey’s Anatomy,” ”Scandal” and “How To Get Away with Murder”), had found comfort and refuge in ShondaLand, the dream factory she rules as a mega-producer and writer.
But during a Thankgiving dinner her sister muttered “You never say yes to anything.”
This led Rhimes to commit herself to a year of saying “yes” to whatever came her way.
For Rhimes, who describes herself back then as an introvert “to the bone,” this meant saying yes to speaking engagements and social invitations she would have turned down before.
But that was just the start.
“I feel like a different person,” Rhimes declared over tea Monday morning at a New York hotel. A television titan who not long ago was legendary for shunning interviews and the media spotlight, she was relaxed and reflective as she shared with a reporter how “everybody asks: ‘What happened to you?’ I don’t know what to say, except that I had this weird, transformative experience and I feel like I’ve completely changed my life from top to bottom.”
Rhimes has chronicled this grand transformation — and helped explain it to herself — in her candid new memoir, “Year of Yes” (Simon & Schuster; $24.99).
For Rhimes, saying yes didn’t just mean saying yes to Jimmy Kimmel when asked to be on his show (which terrified her, though it turned out fine) or, as a mother of three, making time, no matter how busy she was, for her three kids when they ask, “Wanna play?”
More than all that, “yes” meant breaking her lifelong habit of avoiding new possibilities and opportunities.
Writing “Year of Yes” itself became a part of the transformation process, which delivered her from being a remarkably successful woman who was, nonetheless, miserable to newfound standing as “a better mother, a better friend, a happier boss, a stronger leader, a more creative writer,” and someone who is kind, no longer cruel, to herself.
“The more I wrote about what I was doing, the more I got out of it, and I ended up writing the book just for me, which I think was a good thing. If I had been thinking that anybody else was going to read it, I probably would have censored myself so that what came out was sanitized,” she laughed, “for my protection.”
Another intimate section of the book is devoted to her dropping more than 100 pounds. In a painfully funny account, she recalls being too fat to connect an airline’s seat belt — then choosing to hide her beltless state with a sweater in her lap rather than ask for a seat belt extension.
“That’s when I freaked out. Suddenly this book was real, and I was reminded that everybody in the world is going to read it. So I had my panic. And then I re-read it and I felt OK. It’s honest and wildly freeing.”
And its publication finds her in a place, she reports, “where needing to say yes is less necessary, because it’s much more automatic. There’s not very many things that I’m running from now.”
Source : AP Exchange