- Richest Business › Producers
- Net Worth:
- $240 Million
- Date of Birth:
- Jan 13, 1970 (53 years old)
- Place of Birth:
- Screenwriter, Television producer, Film director, Film Producer
- United States of America
What is Shonda Rhimes' net worth and salary?
Shonda Rhimes is an American director, writer, author, and producer who has a net worth of $240 million. Shonda Rhimes earned her fortune as the creator, executive producer, and head writer of the the shows "Scandal," "Grey's Anatomy," "Bridgerton," and "Private Practice," among others. "Grey's Anatomy" alone has generated over $2 billion in revenue for ABC during its long run. As we detail later in this article, Shonda signed a $100 million studio partnership deal with Netflix in 2017. She has likely signed another equally large deal since then.
Shonda Rhimes has won a Golden Globe Award and has been nominated for four Emmy Awards. She has also been the recipient of awards from the Writers Guild of America, Producers Guild of America, and Directors Guild of America.
"I never worried that I deserve the money. I deserve every penny I make." – Shonda Rhimes
Shonda Lynn Rhimes was born in Chicago, Illinois, on January 13, 1970. She is the youngest of six children. Shonda attended Marian Catholic High School. While in high school, she served as a hospital volunteer, which inspired an interest in hospital environments. She attended Dartmouth College where she majored in film studies. Shonda graduated with her BA in 1991. After undergrad, Shonda moved to San Francisco to work for an ad agency. She moved to Los Angeles to enroll in the MFA program at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. She focused on screenwriting and was at the top of her USC Class.
After graduating from USC, Rhimes, like so many other new college grads, was an unemployed screenwriter in Hollywood. She interned at Denzel Washington's production company for a while. She also worked at a variety of day jobs, including an office manager, and then as a counselor at a job center that taught mentally ill and homeless people job skills. All along she continued to write and eventually a script she wrote was bought by New Line Cinema. She worked on the 1995 documentary "Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream," which won the Peabody Award in 1995.
Rhimes was hired to write the 1999 HBO movie "Introducing Dorothy Dandridge." That movie put Shonda on the map. She was subsequently hired to write a number of scripts, including the 2002 Britney Spears movie "Crossroads," which, while critically panned, still made more than $60 million at the box office.
Rhimes next worked on writing the sequel to "The Princess Diaries." Rhimes has often talked about the wonderful experience she had writing 2004's " The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement." She especially enjoyed working with Julie Andrews.
In 2003, Rhimes wrote her first pilot, about young female globe-trotting war correspondents, but it was a victim of bad timing. With the war in Afghanistan and Iraq the network owned by Disney felt it was too risky a project and shelved it.
In 2003, Rhimes started working on a new project. That project was "Grey's Anatomy." ABC bought it on a pitch and scheduled it as a midseason replacement in 2005. "Grey's Anatomy" debuted as a mid-season replacement in March 2005. By the end of the first season, "Grey's Anatomy" had 20 million viewers each week. In May 2006, ABC announced plans to relocate "Grey's Anatomy" to Thursdays to anchor the network's Thursday evening programming. In 2007, Rhimes created and produced the "Grey's Anatomy" spin-off series "Private Practice." In May 2012, ABC picked up "Private Practice" for the 2012–13 television season with 13 episodes. The series finale aired on January 22, 2013.
In 2017, Rhimes told E! that she and "Grey's Anatomy" star Ellen Pompeo (Meredith Grey) have a longstanding deal to do the show as long as Pompeo wants. "Ellen [Pompeo] and I have a pact that I'm going to do the show as long as she's going to do the show. So, the show will exist as long as both of us want to do it. If she wants to stop, we're stopping. So, I don't know if we'll see 600, but I want to keep it feeling fresh. As long as there are fresh stories to tell and as long as we're both excited about the stories being told, we're in. So, we'll see where that takes us." For what it's worth, Kim Raver, Kevin McKidd, and Camilla Luddington have three-year contracts with "Grey's Anatomy" as of the 2020-2021 season. This is leading fans to speculate that Rhimes and Pompeo have a three-year plan for ending "Grey's Anatomy."
In 2018, "Station 19," the second "Grey's Anatomy" spinoff series to be produced by Shondaland, premiered on ABC. It is about a group of Seattle firefighters and EMTs with ties to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital and various "Grey's Anatomy" cast members.
In May 2011, ABC ordered Rhimes' pilot script "Scandal" to series. Kerry Washington starred as Olivia Pope, a political crisis management expert. "Scandal" ran for seven seasons debuting in April 2012 with its finale episode in April 2019. In December 2013, ABC ordered a pilot for a new Rhimes series, "How to Get Away with Murder." Actress Viola Davis joined the cast as the lead character in February 2014. It was officially picked up to series on May 8, 2014. In May 2019, ABC renewed the series for a sixth and final season, which premiered on September 26, 2019.
On August 14, 2017, Netflix announced that it had entered into a development deal with Rhimes, under which all of her future productions will be Netflix Original series. It is a multi-year, exclusive deal that is on top of the fact that the streamer had already bought the U.S. streaming rights to all past episodes of "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal."
In June 2018, Netflix announced that the first project under the deal will be an adaptation of the New York Magazine story "How Anna Delvey Tricked New York's Party People, " which was written by Jessica Pressler. Rhimes' version of the story will be called "Inventing Anna," and will be a 10-part series starring "Veep's" Anna Chlumsky as a journalist (presumably based on Pressler) investigating a German heiress, played by "Ozark's" brilliant Julia Garner. "Orange Is the New Black's" Laverne Cox and "Scandal's" Katie Lowes also star. Filming of "Inventing Anna" reportedly started in October 2019, so presumably, the production had time to wrap before the coronavirus pandemic stalled film and television production (and everything else).
In 2020, the Rhimes-produced "Bridgerton" debuted on Netflix. The series reunites Rhimes with Julie Andrews. It is based on Julia Quinn's best-selling novels about the competitive world of the Regency era of high society in London. "Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story" followed in 2023, with the drama series "Inventing Anna" premiering in 2022.
Rhimes adopted her first daughter in June 2002 and adopted another girl in February 2012. In September 2013, Rhimes welcomed her third daughter via a surrogate.
In 2014, Rhimes gave a commencement address at her alma mater, Dartmouth College, where she received an honorary doctorate.
In September 2015, Rhimes revealed she had lost 117 pounds via exercise and dieting.
The Snow Patrol song "Chasing Cars" always makes Shonda cry. It was the song playing in the episode of "Grey's Anatomy" on which Derek Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey) dies. And that was on purpose. That episode (Season 11, Episode 21) is called "How To Save a Life," which is coincidentally the name of a song by The Fray. Rhimes switched the song playing when Derek died to "Chasing Cars" at the last second before it was set to air. The production crew didn't know if the song could be changed. Rhimes said: "We didn't know it was going to happen until it aired on the East coast. The entire post-production team was standing around the little monitor that is the East coast feed, down the hall, listening and waiting to see if it was going to happen. When it did, you could hear a cheer erupt." "Chasing Cars" played while Meredith sat by Derek's side as the medical team took him off life support.
Contracts and Earnings
In 2017, Rhimes signed a four-year deal with Netflix worth a reported $100 million. Shonda's fortune has been supplemented by her years at ABC with the long-running shows she has created. She does not just get a fee for each episode she produces of each of her shows—and that's more than 317 for Grey's Anatomy alone. She also made an additional $10 million a year over from 2015 to 2018 from ABC and at least 10% of the profit when her shows were syndicated or sold to streaming services. That amounts to about $1 million an episode for Rhimes.
In 2017, Shonda paid $4.6 million for a Tudor-style home built in the 1920s in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hancock Park. This was Rhimes' third home in the area. The home has four bedrooms and four and a half bathrooms and is just under 5,000 square feet.
In 2010, Rhimes paid $5.6 million for an 8,292-square-foot mansion in Hancock Park. The seller was musician Beck. Shonda sold this home in 2019 for $7.1 million.
In 2014, Shonda paid $8.8 million for an 8,398-square-foot Mediterranean villa, also in Hancock Park. The seller was actress Patricia Heaton. Shonda sold this home in January 2022 for $21 million, which set a record for most expensive home ever sold in the area.
Rhimes continues to own a duplex just west of Hancock Park, which she bought in 2007 for $1.66 million.
And in 2018, Shonda paid $11.76 million for a two-bedroom penthouse overlooking Park Avenue in Manhattan.
In October 2022, Shonda paid $15.175 million for an absolutely enormous and stunning stately manor in Westport, Connecticut. The 7+ acre property features a 40,000 square foot mansion with 11 bedrooms and 16 bathrooms. The sellers were Melissa and Doug Bernstein. Melissa and Doug earned their fortune as the founders of the aptly-named Melissa & Doug toy company. The Bernsteins paid $5 million for the land in 2007 and proceeded to custom build today's 40,000 square foot estate.
Why Shonda Rhimes Really Left ABC For Netflix
Towards the end of her run with ABC/Disney, she was producing 70 hours of television per year for the network. For whatever reason, ABC/Disney still wouldn't give her what she wanted. She fought them over budget and content. She even fought with the network and studio over an ad she and the stars of her shows filmed in support of Hillary Clinton's presidential bid. Still, she was willing to negotiate a new deal with the network in good faith.
In early 2017, her agents were negotiating a new multi-year deal with ABC/Disney. The head of the television group was stalling the process. It turns out they were determined to low-ball their most valuable creator. Rhimes was getting sick of it. She was sick of fighting, or not being respected, of having to fight so hard for her creative vision. She had a breaking point and she wasn't quite sure where it was. It turns out, her breaking point was Disneyland.
As part of her deal with ABC, she had an all-inclusive pass to Disneyland. Since she was not in a romantic relationship, she also negotiated a second pass for her nanny. One day in 2017, her teenage daughter, nanny, two younger kids and her sister were planning to spend the day at Disneyland. Her kids and nanny were covered under Shonda and the nanny's passes. Her sister, however, didn't have one and couldn't use Shonda's because the annual passes are not transferable. She just wanted a pass for her sister, who was taking Harper, Shonda's teen to the amusement park while the nanny would chaperone her two younger kids. Shonda didn't have time to go to Disneyland.
She went back and forth with ABC/Disney execs. She was told that the company never issues extra passes. But finally, she was given an extra pass. When her daughters, sister, and nanny arrived at Disneyland, only one of the passes worked. Shonda placed a call to a high-ranking executive at ABC/Disney. He treated her dismissively and reportedly said "Don't you have enough?".
Rhimes was livid. She hung up and called her attorney and told him to get her a deal at Netflix, or she'd fire him and get new representation. The rest is history. She signed a four-year, $100,000,000 deal with Netflix and left ABC after 15 years.