Shonda Rhimes, the creator of some of the most binge-worthy shows on Netflix (Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get away With Murder!), has just added another job title to her resume. Rhimes is now on the national board of Planned Parenthood.
The TV queen was asked by none other than Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards to join the board. Although Rhimes has spent years supporting her local Planned Parenthood, she decided that she was ready to take on a larger role within the organization. She told Elle.com, “When someone you really admire…calls on you to serve, you say yes.”
However, admiration wasn’t the only reason Rhimes wanted to become more involved with the organization. “The fact is that women’s health is under fire right now, and so to me, it’s important to help fight back.”
Following the 2016 presidential election, women’s rights, especially reproductive rights, have been more prevalent than ever in politics. To Rhimes, advocating for those rights and Planned Parenthood’s accessibility is necessary. “I'm not even sure I could tell you what my first exposure was. It's always been around for me, as far as I can remember," she said. "There wasn't a time that there wasn't a Planned Parenthood [available to me]. And I'm fortunate. I've always had medical care. I've always had access. I've never personally had to use a Planned Parenthood. But I have many friends who have and do and did, and I think it's important that that access be there for everyone.”
That motivation and persistence is one of the many reasons why Richards wanted Rhimes on the board. In her talk with Elle.com, Richards also highlighted Rhimes' ability to tell people’s stories as a key reason she wanted her help. “What she brings not only to this board, but frankly to the world, is her commitment to lift up the stories of people who don't always get heard, whether it's in the way she talks about LGBT issues or women's reproductive health care or [the way she] centers people of color on television," she explained. "To me, the most important work we can do now at Planned Parenthood is make sure that the voices of all those folks are heard, particularly in this political environment. And there's just no one better at utilizing the power of storytelling than Shonda Rhimes.”
As far as what Rhimes has planned for her position, she’s not totally sure yet. “I want to be of service一in any way that I can. And if that is helping to convey messages, that is what I'm going to do. If it's rolling up my sleeves and getting to work, that is what I'm going to do.”
One of the main issues Rhimes wants to address is the availability of health care for women. “I think it's important that women have a place to go to get Pap smears and cancer screenings. And it shouldn't be considered extra. It shouldn't be considered something that can be 'cut.' It shouldn't be something that's in danger of going away. The idea that we're even thinking about cutting that off because somebody else isn't enjoying it themselves or somebody has extreme opinions about it is worrisome to me,” she said.
There’s no doubt that Rhimes can help push these issues to the forefront of American minds.