Book Review: The Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda Rhimes

Posted April 6, 2016 by @Angelized_1st in Books, Entertainment / 0 Comments

Book Review: The Year of Yes: How to Dance It Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be Your Own Person by Shonda RhimesYear of Yes by Shonda Rhimes
Published by Simon and Schuster on November 10th 2015
Genres: Biography & Autobiography, General, Entertainment & Performing Arts, Women, Personal Memoirs, Self-Help, Personal Growth, Success
Pages: 336
Format: eBook
Source: Purchased
ISBN: 9781476777092
Buy on: AmazonBarnes & NobleiBooks


In this poignant, hilarious, and deeply intimate call to arms, Hollywood’s most powerful woman, the mega-talented creator of Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal and executive producer of How to Get Away with Murder reveals how saying YES changed her life—and how it can change yours too.

She’s the creator and producer of some of the most groundbreaking and audacious shows on television today: Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder. Her iconic characters—Meredith Grey, Cristina Yang, Olivia Pope, Annalise Keating—live boldly and speak their minds. So who would suspect that Shonda Rhimes, the mega talent who owns Thursday night television (#TGIT), is an introvert? That she hired a publicist so she could avoid public appearances? That she hugged walls at splashy parties and suffered panic attacks before media interviews so severe she remembered nothing afterward?

Before her Year of Yes, Shonda Rhimes was an expert at declining invitations others would leap to accept. With three children at home and three hit television shows on TV, it was easy to say that she was simply too busy. But in truth, she was also afraid. Afraid of cocktail party faux pas like chucking a chicken bone across a room; petrified of live television appearances where Shonda Rhimes could trip and fall and bleed out right there in front of a live studio audience; terrified of the difficult conversations that came so easily to her characters on-screen. In the before, Shonda’s introvert life revolved around burying herself in work, snuggling her children, and comforting herself with food.
And then, on Thanksgiving 2013, Shonda’s sister muttered something that was both a wake up and a call to arms: You never say yes to anything.

The comment sat like a grenade, until it detonated. Then Shonda, the youngest of six children from a supremely competitive family, knew she had to embrace the challenge: for one year, she would say YES to everything that scared her.

This poignant, intimate, and hilarious memoir explores Shonda’s life before her Year of Yes—from her nerdy, book-loving childhood creating imaginary friends to her devotion to creating television characters who reflected the world she saw around her (like Cristina Yang, whose ultimate goal wasn’t marriage, and Cyrus Beene, who is a Republican and gay). And it chronicles her life after her Year of Yes had begun—when Shonda forced herself out of the house and onto the stage, appearing on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and giving the Dartmouth Commencement speech; when she learned to say yes to her health, yes to play and she stepped out of the shadows and into the sun; when she learned to explore, empower, applaud, and love her truest self. Yes.
This wildly candid and compulsively readable book reveals how the mega talented Shonda Rhimes, an unexpected introvert, achieved badassery worthy of a Shondaland character. And how you can, too.

“If you want crappy things to stop happening to you, then stop accepting crap and demand something more. —CRISTINA YANG, GREY’S ANATOMY”

When my book club decided to read executive producer and writer Shonda Rhimes memoir The Year of Yes: How to Dance it Out, Stand in the Sun, and Be your Own Person, I was excited. I’ve been a longtime fan of Rhimes’ hit tv shows Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, and have been amazed at everything she’s been able to accomplish in the entertainment industry as an African-American female. I thought The Year of Yes would reveal how she managed to be a show runner of not one, but three highly successful television shows, and “own” a night of television. Sadly, this wasn’t the book where she reveals this.

“Lucky implies I didn’t do anything. Lucky implies something was given to me. Lucky implies that I was handed something I did not earn, that I did not work hard for. Gentle reader, may you never be lucky. I am not lucky. You know what I am? I am smart, I am talented, I take advantage of the opportunities that come my way and I work really, really hard. Don’t call me lucky. Call me a badass.”

Instead, this book only details how Rhimes came to terms with all of her professional success, but came to realize she was unhappy personally. Though the book offered some pretty good advice, especially for an introvert like myself, I also felt disappointed. I feel Rhimes, as a successful female writer, has so much wisdom that she could bestow on the world, and failed to do so. However, one of the women at the book club meeting pointed out one important fact. Maybe Shonda can’t write that book due to the barriers in Hollywood she’s broken. Somehow she broke the glass ceiling, and by revealing at this time how she did so, may give the PTB (Powers That Be) the roadmap to stop other minorities from following in her footsteps. Considering all of the controversy about the inequalities in Hollywood recently, this may actually be a highly possible theory.

“Dreams are lovely. But they are just dreams. Fleeting, ephemeral. Pretty. But dreams do not come true just because you dream them. It’s hard work that makes things happen. It’s hard work that creates change.”

Many of my fellow book club members struggled with the way this memoir is written, as it’s written more conversationally, and lacks a certain linear flow normally found in books, I liked the mood this set. I felt as if I was having a conversation with Rhimes, and while this book wasn’t what I expected it to be, I did come away with it with a desire to step out of my comfort zone. Started taking steps towards completing some personal goals I have. Got out and met new people. Enjoy the world around me more than the one in my head. I guess we’ll see if this will end up being my “Year of Yes.” So far, so good!

About Shonda Rhimes

Shonda Rhimes is the prolific writer, executive producer and creator of the hit ABC series “Grey’s Anatomy,” and “Scandal.” In addition to creating the “Grey’s Anatomy” spinoff series “Private Practice,” which ran on ABC for six seasons, Rhimes is the executive producer of the ABC series “How to Get Away with Murder,” which premiered in 2014 as the number one new show of the Fall in adults 18-49.

Aside from her success with network television, Rhimes wrote the feature film “Princess Diaries 2: A Royal Engagement,” released in August 2004 by Disney. Additionally, her original script, “Crossroads,” was released in 2002 by Paramount. She also co-wrote “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” produced by HBO and nominated for numerous awards, and for which Halle Berry won a Golden Globe and an Emmy for Best Actress in a miniseries for her portrayal of Dandridge. In 2004, Rhimes created her production company Shondaland.

A graduate of Dartmouth College, Rhimes received her MFA from USC’s School of Cinema-Television. The youngest of six, she was raised outside of Chicago, IL, and now resides in Los Angeles with her three daughters.


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