Shonda Rhimes' Net Worth In 2023 Is Fit for a Queen Indeed
Shonda Rhimes' net worth is worthy of her reign as the queen of TV, but she didn't always see herself that way.
"I don’t think there was a time I ever thought of myself as anything but a writer," she told Deadline in 2016. "I thought I was going to be the next Toni Morrison. She already had that job so you can’t get that job."
Since being Toni Morrison was off the table, instead she became Shonda Rhimes.
Turning to screenwriting, she found her niche and created some of the most beloved characters and long-running series in modern television history—and her genius extends to her business acumen, landing her some of the most lucrative deals in an era when streamers and networks cut budgets left and right.
Find out how Rhimes came into her own and how much money she came into once she did.
Related: Toni Morrison Quotes
How did Shonda Rhimes become famous?
Rhimes volunteered at a hospital in high school, which gave her a taste for the inner workings of medical facilities that she'd come to cover in Grey's Anatomy later. She majored in English and film studies at Dartmouth University, where she directed and acted in the Black Underground Theater Association.
After graduating, Rhimes briefly lived in San Francisco, where she worked as a copywriter, before moving to Los Angeles to study screenwriting and eventually earn her master's degree from the USC School of Cinematic Arts.
She worked day jobs after graduating to make ends meet, including as a research director on the Peabody Award-winning 1995 documentary Hank Aaron: Chasing the Dream. Three years later, she directed the short film Blossom and Wells starring Jeffrey Wright and Jada Pinkett Smith, and a year later her feature Introducing Dorothy Dandridge, starring Halle Berry, hit the small screen on HBO.
In 2001, Rhimes wrote the Britney Spears star vehicle Crossroads, followed by The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, starring Anne Hathaway, Julie Andrews and Chris Pine.
After Rhimes wrote a 2003 ABC pilot about women war correspondents that didn't get picked up, the network took a chance on her medical drama, a little show called Grey's Anatomy, in 2005. She'd go on to write and produce hits like Grey's spinoff Private Practice, Scandal, How to Get Away With Murder, Station 19, Bridgerton, Inventing Anna and Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story—to name a few.
Related: Grey's Anatomy May Never Actually End
What is Shonda Rhimes' net worth in 2023?
Shonda Rhimes' net worth in 2023 is estimated at $160 million, thanks to her long and lucrative career behind the scenes in television.
How much money does Shonda Rhimes make from Grey's Anatomy?
According to Forbes, in the early seasons of Grey's Anatomy, Rhimes made $30,000 per episode for writing and producing the series. By 2021, that ballooned to a whopping $250,000 per episode.
She told the magazine, however, that she had to fight for her pay despite bringing in an estimated $2 billion in revenue to ABC since her tenure on Grey's began.
"It's really startling to realize how much money your work is earning for a place and then to discover how much they think you're worth versus that," she said.
Related: Why Every Major Character Left Grey's Anatomy
Is Shonda Rhimes a billionaire?
Rhimes isn't a billionaire, but she's more than 1/10th of the way there. That's more than the vast majority of people will reach in their lifetimes!
How much was Shonda Rhimes paid per episode?
In early seasons of Grey's Anatomy, Rhimes made $30,000 per episode as a writer and producer. In later seasons, her salary grew to $250,000 per episode of the series.
Related: How the Bridgerton Show Differs From the Books
How much was Shonda Rhimes' Netflix deal?
In 2017, Rhimes finalized a reported $100 million deal with Netflix. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the massive success of Bridgerton netted Rhimes a significant pay increase to $150 million, plus bonuses that could bring her into the $300 million to $400 million range, in 2021.
How much does Shonda Rhimes make a year?
According to Forbes, Rhimes's deal with ABC was for $10 million annually, plus 10% of profits generated from her series' syndication on other channels and streamers like Netflix. Add that to her reported whopping $150 million Netflix deal and the bonuses reported to be within it, and you can see how her business savvy, combined with her creative genius, made her a very wealthy woman.
Looking specifically at 2021, Forbes estimated that Rhimes would earn close to $40 million from her Netflix deal that year (in part thanks to her Bridgerton bonuses); $8 million in producing fees for Grey's Anatomy and Station 19; $17 million for her share of the profits from Grey's, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder; and several million for her Shondaland projects (podcasts, web content, etc.). That would put her take-home in 2021 at about $70 million before taxes.
Forbes also reports that since her television career began, Rhimes has banked more than $350 million, pretax. And that was as of 2021. A lot of checks have come in since then!