Writer-producer Shonda Rhimes, 45, has not only changed the face of TV by creating female-character-driven dramas like Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal, she has caused more shedding of tears than any other showrunner with her pitch-perfect ear for music and image. “Music is the other piece of storytelling,” she says. The Chicago native executive-produces How to Get Away With Murder and has a new show, The Catch, debuting in 2016.
Where does your grasp of music come from? I
don’t know. Growing up, I didn’t know every band or genre. I was a I-know-who-Duran-Duran-is kind of teenager. I just know what I like.
What songs are you pushing to get into Grey’s Anatomy or Scandal?
I have Ray Charles singing “Imagine,” but I haven’t figured out where to put it, and I haven’t cleared it yet. And I’m obsessed with getting the theme to Mahogany into an episode.
What was your toughest song to soundtrack?
When Cristina Yang [portrayed by Sandra Oh] left Grey’s Anatomy, she and Meredith Grey [Ellen Pompeo] danced it out for the last time. That music battle was brutal, because it had to feel joyous and nostalgic and sad at the same time. We ended up using Tegan & Sara’s “Where Does the Good Go.” It was perfect.