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Shonda Rhimes Says Other Women ‘Cracked’ the Glass Ceiling For Her

July 6, 2016

‘I did not feel like I had come up against any obstacles’

Though the show is on summer hiatus, there’s a lot of chatter about Grey’s Anatomy right now following Jesse Williams’ speech at the BET awards, which some viewed as controversial. In response to a petition with over 19,000 signatures, Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes responded on Twitter with simply: “Um, people? Boo don’t need a petition. #ShondalandRules.” In referencing the power of her own brand in support of the star, she reminded us all of what a huge pop culture influence she has become.

However, the television executive doesn’t attribute her success to breaking the glass ceiling. In her acceptance speech at the The Hollywood Reporter‘s Women in Entertainment Breakfast in 2014, she said that her success was made possible by other women before her. “Making it through the glass ceiling to the other side was simply a matter of running on a path created by every other woman’s footprints. I just hit at exactly the right time in exactly the right spot,” she said.

When TIME asked her last year about that statement, she said, “I did not feel like I had come up against obstacles,” she said. “One, because my parents raised me to believe that there weren’t any. If you believe that there are obstacles, that’s why there are obstacles. And two, because I came along at exactly the right time in history,” Rhimes said. “That glass ceiling had been cracked just enough so that when I hit it, it shattered.”

Viola Davis, the star of How to Get Away With Murder, which Rhimes produces, told Motto earlier this year about her own challenges finding interesting roles, and actress Lili Taylor has said that women in Hollywood are “nearly invisible.”

But Rhimes takes a different view: “I’m pretty oblivious. That obliviousness makes it possible for me to move forward despite what anybody else is thinking” she told TIME. “That doesn’t mean that obstacles don’t exist for other people. It’s just that I’ve decided that they don’t exist.”