Shonda Rhimes was honored with the Ally for Equality Award this past weekend in Los Angeles by the giant Human Rights Campaign. Below, highlights from her powerful speech.

On starting at 11: 

“You see, Shondaland, the imaginary land of Shonda, has existed since I was 11 years old. I built it in my mind as a place to hold my stories. A safe place. A space for my characters to exist, a space for me to exist. Until I could get the hell out of being a teenager and could run out into the world and be myself. Less isolated, less marginalized, less invisible in the eyes of my peers. Until I could find my people in the real world.”

On how writing saved her life:

“There were times in my youth when writing those stories in Shondaland quite literally saved my life,” Rhimes said. “And now I get kids telling me it quite literally saves theirs. That is beyond humbling. And every single time it comes down to one thing. You are not alone. Nobody should be alone. So. I write.”

On diversity on TV:

“I’m normalizing TV. I am making TV look like the world looks,” she said. “Women, people of color, LGBTQ people equal way more than 50 percent of the population. Which means it ain’t out of the ordinary.”

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