Shonda Rhimes Wanted More Creative Freedom & Salary From ABC, Says The Final Straw Was Them Giving Her Pushback Over A DisneyLand Pass

Shonda Rhimes On Leaving ABC: the $154 Disney Ticket That Was The Last Straw

It’s important to know your worth in all parts of life and climbing to the top of the ladder of success is no exception. After making more than $2 billion for Disney Shonda Rhimes, 50, (left the company in a move that surprised many.

Shonda Rhimes On Grey's Anatomy Changing Her + What Her Daughter Thinks About Her Shows

Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes revealed some of her battles with the company pre-departure in an interview with The Hollywood ReporterShonda Rhimes said she wanted more in her salary, more creative freedom and that she’d felt:

“Like I’d been pushing the same ball up the same hill in the exact same way for a really long time.”

In addition, to struggling for the respect that comes with making billions of dollars for a company, Rhimes said she didn’t feel valued as a part of ABC. As part of her company perks, she’d been given all-inclusive passes to Disneyland. She couldn’t use her own personalized pass since she was busy writing for the show, so she requested two more. One would be for her nanny, who would take care of her youngest two daughters. The other would be for her sister who was in town and watching her eldest teenage daughter. Rhimes went back and forth with the company both times, even being told “We never do this,” before being granted her request. When her family arrived at the park, only one of the passes worked.

When Rhimes called a high-ranking executive about the $154 ticket error, the executive allegedly replied,

“Don’t you have enough?”

Shortly after, she called her lawyers and told them to start the process to get her to Netflix which eventually led to a nine-figure overall agreement, noting the Disneyland ticket wasn’t about the cost but the principle.


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Though Rhimes says she plans to make Netflix a long term deal, her transition with the company wasn’t all smooth sailing.

“I’d say, ‘We just want to be left alone to make our shows,’ and they’d be like, ‘We want to help you in every way possible.’ So, it took a while to figure out how to meld our worlds.”

Some things had to be adjusted, like the requirement to turn over a season’s worth of scripts before shooting:

“It leaves no room for the actors’ performance.”

Rhimes did have to succumb to some practices, such as meeting with a large group of people as part of the company’s inclusive culture.

“And 50 people, if you’re as introverted as I am, is terrifying.”

Rhimes is the highest-paid showrunner in television, an accomplishment she says she is willing to brag about. And although she brought Disney much success with the show Grey’s Anatomy( 17 seasons in), she says fans won’t get a repeat like she told Netflix Co-Ceo Ted Sarandos when they first met to talk about the partnership over breakfast.

“The first thing I said was, ‘You’re not going to get another Grey’s Anatomy — not Grey’s Anatomy in a cornfield, Grey’s Anatomy on a baseball field or Grey’s Anatomy at an airport, that’s just not happening.”

A still picture from the Netflix series Bridgerton.

There’s already buzz building behind the first two projects to be released via Netflix: a documentary about director and choreographer Debbie Allen (comes out Nov. 27) and the period drama Bridgerton (comes out Dec. 25)–a  show based on a series of romance novels.

As far as the critic’s response to if her seven million dollar Netflix deal was worth the price tag Rhimes has only one thing to say:

“It’s not my place.”

What do you think about the showrunner’s decision to leave ABC? Let us know in the comments.

Authored by: Toi Monèt Creel