Interview with Shonda Rhimes
Five Questions for Grey's Anatomy writer, creator, and executive producer, Shonda Rhimes
By Colleen Oakley
Photo Credit: Kobal/ABC-TV/The Kobal Collection/Wire Image
MC: When Oh auditioned, what about her was perfect for Cristina?
RHIMES: She brought this energy that felt very fresh. From the beginning, I've been shaping Cristina around Sandra a little bit. One of my favorite things to do is take as much of her dialogue out of a scene as possible because she does so much nonverbally. Then I just watch what she manages to do without having a word to say.
MC: Cristina has such a hard edge. Whom did you model her traits on?
RHIMES:Cristina, Izzy, Meredith, and Miranda are all a little bit of my personality. You know Cristina's inability to filter herself? I struggle with that. But she's also a lot of women I know. She's unapologetically competitive, and there's something interesting about that kind of woman.
MC: The characters' physical beauty is secondary to their intelligence and wit. That's not something you often see on TV.
RHIMES:I think a lot of times women are portrayed as men would like them to be, as opposed to how they are. Every once in a while there's a chance to take the girl next door and make her more three dimensional.
MC: During auditions you had no preconceived ideas about how the characters should look, right?
RHIMES: Yeah, I didn't write any physical traits into the pilot, and I didn't ask for anything in particular. It wasn't about "we need a blonde." It was about finding the best actor for the part. It never occurred to me to do it another way.
MC: Even though there are a few interracial relationships, race is never discussed on the show. Is that a conscious decision?
RHIMES: I think that issues of race are a larger conversation that people project on a relationship, but for the two people in it, that's not the primary thing on their minds. I also wanted to do something that felt modern in terms of the casting. Part of a truly diverse world is not needing to make a statement about the fact that it's a diverse world. When we get to that point, we've gotten somewhere.