Shonda Rhimes to Receive Hollywood Reporter's Sherry Lansing Leadership Award

Shonda Rhimes, 2013
Mary Rozzi

The influential showrunner will be honored at the 2014 Women in Entertainment Breakfast, to be held Dec. 10 at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.

Shonda Rhimes has been tapped to receive The Hollywood Reporter's Sherry Lansing Award at its 2014 Women in Entertainment Breakfast.

The award, which recognizes a woman who is a pioneer and a leader in her industry, will be presented during the VIP breakfast to be held Dec. 10 at Milk Studios in Los Angeles.

"Over the past decade, Shonda Rhimes has completely redefined the way women are perceived on television — and therefore in society too," Lansing said. "She’s created iconic roles for women; she’s put women front and center in the national debate; and she’s also been a pioneering force in leading the way for African-American women in the media. And what’s amazing about her is, she hasn’t just done this once: she’s done it over and over and over again. She’s a creative, intellectual and artistic powerhouse, and I’m thrilled she’ll receive the award that carries my name.”

“Shonda Rhimes represents a unique embodiment of the spirit and value of the Women in Entertainment initiative,” said Janice Min, co-president and chief creative officer of Guggenheim Media’s Entertainment Group. “As a person whose creativity, talent and drive transcend boundaries, Shonda is fearless in her career, owning the Hollywood conversation with her portrayal of diverse, strong female characters. I’m truly honored this extraordinary woman is helping us carry this torch.”

Rhimes' production company, Shondaland, has three hit shows airing on ABC's Thursday night lineup: Grey’s AnatomyScandal and How to Get Away With Murder. In October, she was featured as the cover star of THR's Showrunner issue. She also has received a Golden Globe and three Emmy nominations for her work.

Past recipients of the Sherry Lansing Leadership Award include Oprah Winfrey, Diane Keaton, Jane Fonda, Helen Mirren, Meryl StreepHalle BerryJodie FosterGlenn Close and Barbara Walters.

Last year's breakfast was a touching and moving event that brought many people in the star-packed room to tears. Winfrey, who received the Sherry Lansing award in 2013, was introduced by her longtime friend Maria Shriver, whose funny and touching remarks included a poem she had written titled "Becoming."

"That beats a eulogy, I gotta tell you," confessed Winfrey, dabbing at her eyes while getting a hearty laugh from the crowd. "You're still alive to hear it!"

Winfrey also told the crowd she was overwhelmed to receive an award named after Lansing, whose accomplishments she closely followed as a fledgling radio and television reporter.

"My favorite definition of power is 'strength over time,' " Winfrey told the crowd, saying that Lansing had carved out a phenomenal career in a male-dominated industry and comparing that to her own struggles to make the OWN network successful. The honor, she confessed, "brought great reflections" for her.

The Women in Entertainment breakfast, sponsored by Lifetime, Audi, Gucci, Roberto Coin and Loyola Marymount, coincides with the publication of The Hollywood Reporter’s annual Women in Entertainment: Power 100 list. Rhimes also has made the list in past years.

This year marks a new location for the breakfast after being held at the Beverly Hill Hotel for the previous 20 years. In May, THR notified the hotel that it would not hold its annual breakfast there because of the hotel's ties to the Sultan of Brunei, who has instituted a severe new penal code based on Sharia law that calls for death by stoning for homosexuals and adulterers.

Also during the Dec. 10 breakfast, scholarship awards will be given to 18 ambitious inner-city girls who participate in THR's Mentorship Program, which pairs girls with leading figures from the entertainment industry.

The program, currently in its sixth year, is a joint venture with Big Brothers Big Sisters. Previous mentors include NBC Entertainment president Jennifer Salke, Fox Television Group chairman/CEO Dana Walden, Paramount president of worldwide distribution and marketing Megan Colligan, and Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley.

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