Shonda Rhimes and Angelina Jolie. They aren’t two names you think of together often – if at all. If I was having a dinner party and Angelina Jolie and Shonda Rhimes were both invited, I don’t think I would seat them beside each other. I’d put Angelina beside Christiane Amanpour and Shonda beside Lin-Manuel Miranda. Obviously. Well, The Hollywood Reporter brilliantly decided to seat Shonda and Angelina together at THR’s Women in Entertainment breakfast and now I’m obsessed with them becoming best friends.
There’s a critique Angelina Jolie gets often. It’s that she doesn’t have girlfriends. Is it a fair critique? We may not see Angelina vacationing in Cabo with her girls every weekend but she does have female friends (like Marianne Pearl and Loung Ung for example.) Shonda Rhimes revolutionized the depiction of female friendship on television. Calling someone your Person has now been equated in popular vernacular with romantic love (everyone, please stop doing this) but Cristina Yang and Meredith Grey will forever be each other’s OG Person. Even if their names aren’t ones you would think of putting side by side, I think Angelina Jolie and Shonda Rhimes are perfect for each other.
Both Shonda and Angelina were at the forefront of fighting for gender equality and representation in Hollywood. Not that it’s a competition but before diversity became a buzzword and female voices were rightfully demanding to be amplified at the volume they are now, these two women were champions of change. And that’s why they were both honoured by THR. Shonda Rhimes guest-edited the Women in Entertainment issue and gave a very on-brand speech about the importance of listening to women, especially at this moment.
"This lightning-fast, brightly lit, 'We handmaids are over these red hats, Westeros is ours, we are reclaiming our time, we’re swinging our "Lemonade" baseball bats, we are all Wonder Women now because guess what, women are just so DONE with this molester-y hot mess that makes you feel you can put your creepy hands on us so there’s the door because you have got to GO' reckoning moment in time."
Shonda is so good at words it’s annoying. Can you picture Olivia Pope yelling this same impassioned speech at President Mellie Grant? Shonda went on to talk about what she learned from guest-editing the issue.
“I ended up with this very protective feeling for you, my fellow women in entertainment. Protective of how this issue would portray you. After all, in our business, how we portray women tells the world who women are. I just want the world to know how powerful and creative and badass and original you all are."
Angelina’s speech was badass but in different way. She called out the privilege of everyone in the room and put the plight of women in Hollywood into perspective.
“We all know women who were never able to live their creative dreams because they had to put their families first, who poured their creative truth into homework assignments and birthday parties. We all know that our industry lacks diversity and equality and that there’s so much we have to change and fight for. But we have a level of freedom that is unimaginable for millions of other women around the world — women who live with conflict and terrorism and displacement and poverty, who never get a chance, whose voices are always silenced.”
She’s also so good at words it’s annoying. Another unfair criticism Angelina gets is that she’s cold. There was a warmth to this speech that I loved. For Shonda, the sh-t she mostly gets called out for is being too arrogant. She’s Shonda F-cking Rhimes. If I came up with “va-jay-jay” I would be cocky as f-ck. Anyway, Shonda brought the perfect amount of ego and humility to her speech. They both nailed it.
Do you think they went back to their table and talked about how they both nailed their speeches? Do you think they both eye-rolled at Justin Timberlake? I have so many questions. Did Angelina ask Shonda if Cristina is ever coming back to Seattle Grace? Does Angelina watch Scandal? Did Shonda give Angelina hair tips for Zahara? Did they set up play dates for their kids? CAN I COME?
Watch Angelina’s speech below.
And Shonda’s here.