Scandal creator Shonda Rhimes may have the magic touch when it comes to penning popular network TV dramas, but giving speeches is a whole different ballgame.
“This is weird,” Rhimes admitted during this year’s commencement speech at her alma mater, Dartmouth College. “Twenty-plus-years-ago…I never imagined I’d be one day standing here, at the old pine lectern, staring out at all of you, about to throw down some wisdom in the Dartmouth commencement address.”
And throw down she did. During the 24-minute speech, Rhimes overcame her nervousness and admitted that she once dreamed of becoming Toni Morrison. Unfortunately, it never happened, and Rhimes decided to go to film school instead. While it wasn’t her first choice, but it paved the way for her future success.
“Guess what? I couldn’t be Nobel Prize winning author Toni Morrison. Because Toni Morrison already had that job and she wasn’t interested in giving it up,” Rhimes told attendees.
“Years later, I had dinner with Toni Morrison. All she wanted to talk about was Grey’s Anatomy. That never would have happened if I hadn’t stopped dreaming of becoming her and gotten busy becoming myself.”
While most graduation speeches are filled with positive affirmations about seizing the future, Rhimes imparted some tough truths to the grads.
“Tomorrow is going to be the worst day ever for you,” she told them, explaining she was so nervous about leaving the comfort and security of her campus that she “literally [laid] on the floor of [her] dorm room and cried while [her] mother packed up [her] room.”
Rhimes also encouraged the grads to quit dreaming about what they want to do in life and start doing it. Or as the writer put it, “Ditch the dream and be a doer.”
“Dreams are lovely,” she explained. “But dreams do not come true because you dream them.”
Rhimes added: “My dreams did not come true. But I worked really hard and I ended up building an empire out of my imagination.”
The showrunner closed her speech with a few awesome reminders for the graduating class: “Be brave. Be amazing. Be worthy. And every single time you get the chance, stand up in front of people. Let them see you. Speak. Be heard.”
Watch Shonda Rhimes’ entire speech below: