Shonda Rhimes is worth at least $135 million, thanks to her #TGIT lineup and a history-making Netflix deal – see how she makes and spends her fortune

Hillary Hoffower-Tue, December 29, 2020, 8:30 AM EST

  • Shonda Rhimes has an estimated net worth of $135 million.
  • The success of her Shondaland line-up, which includes “Grey’s Anatomy,” has made her a historic figure in TV and led to a multimillion-dollar Netflix deal.
  • Her first show from that Netflix deal, “Bridgerton,” was released on Christmas day.
  • Rhimes is the first Black woman to showrun a successful primetime drama on a broadcast network and one of the highest-paid showrunners in TV.

At age 50, Shonda Rhimes has already created a legacy.

The success of her production company Shondaland’s show “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC made Rhimes the first Black woman to showrun a successful primetime drama on a broadcast network. But that was only the beginning. Her following hit shows “Scandal” and “How to Get Away With Murder” brought Rhimes into the cultural lexicon with #TGIT (“Thank God It’s Thursday”), dubbed as such because of how Rhimes’ shows dominated TV’s Thursday night primetime line-up.

In 2017, she ended her contract early with ABC, trading in her $10 million base salary for a four-year deal with Netflix worth an estimated $150 million, per The New York Times. Three years later, her first Netflix show, “Bridgerton,” debuted on Christmas to much hype.

It’s all made Rhimes one of the highest-paid showrunners in TV, with Forbes estimating her net worth at $135 million. A representative for Rhimes didn’t immediately respond to Business Insider’s request for comment regarding Rhimes’ net worth and spending

From buying the “Grey’s Anatomy” cast vacations to snapping up properties around Los Angeles, here’s how Rhimes spends her millions.

With an estimated net worth of $135 million, Shonda Rhimes is one of the wealthiest women in TV.

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Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

SourceForbes

Her production company, Shondaland, and its trio of hit shows have driven that wealth: “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Scandal,” and “How to Get Away with Murder.”

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Charley Gallay/Getty

SourceForbes

But Rhimes didn’t always see herself working in TV. As a kid, she dreamt of being a novelist. That all changed after seeing Whoopi Goldberg on Broadway.

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Shonda Rhimes Paul Zimmerman / Stringer

SourceForbes

She earned an MFA in film at the University of Southern California, where she discovered a “new way of storytelling,” she said, and worked as an assistant on several film projects.

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A view of people visiting the University of Southern California. Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

SourceForbes

In the early stages of her post-grad career, Rhimes wrote the screenplay for the movie “Crossroads,” starring Britney Spears, and the sequel to “The Princess Diaries.”

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“Crossroads.” Paramount Pictures

SourceVanity Fair

Her TV career launched in 2003 when ABC picked up “Grey’s Anatomy,” which garnered 20 million viewers by the end of its first season. It made Rhimes the first Black woman showrunnner of a successful primetime drama on a broadcast network, Forbes reports.

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Grey’s Anatomy. ABC

SourceForbes

“Scandal” premiered in 2012, raking in roughly $100 million per season in ad revenue at its peak. “How to Get Away with Murder” followed in 2014.

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Scandal. ABC

SourceForbes

In between those years, Rhimes’ production company also debuted shorter-lived series like “The Catch,” “For the People,” and the “Grey’s Anatomy” spin-off “Private Practice,” which all aired on ABC.

Private Practice
Private Practice. ABC

SourceForbes

Rhimes became the woman who “owns Thursday night television,” with #TGIT (Thank God It’s Thursday). According to Forbes, she earned “hefty” fees for each episode produced.

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Rhimes and the stars of #TGIT. Frederick M. Brown/ Getty Images

SourceForbesLos Angeles Times

She also took home 10% of the profits when “Grey’s,” “Scandal,” “How to Get Away with Murder,” and “Private Practice” were syndicated or sold to streaming services at $1 million per episode.

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Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

SourceForbes

By 2017, Shondaland had generated $2 billion in revenue from advertising, rerun sales, and international licensing.

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Getty Images

SourceThe Wall Street Journal

Boosting all of that was Rhimes’ base salary. In 2014, she signed a new four-year deal with ABC that earned her $10 million per year.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

SourceForbes

But Rhimes signed a four-year deal in 2017 with Netflix worth an estimated $150 million, making her one of the first showrunners to ink a deal with the streaming service.

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Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images

SourceThe New York Times

The deal allowed Rhimes to keep working on her ABC series without the $10 million per year while enjoying new liberties to produce films, series, or miniseries at Netflix.

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Rhimes and “Scandal” star Kerry Washington. Jason Merritt/Getty Images

SourceForbes

Her first Netflix show, period drama series “Bridgerton,” debuted on Christmas. Two days after its premiere, it was holding the number two spot on the platform’s most-watched list.

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Daphne Bridgerton and Simon Basset on “Bridgerton.” LIAM DANIEL/NETFLIX

Source: TV Line

In recent years, Rhimes has ventured into other forms of media. In 2015, she published a memoir, “Year of Yes,” which became a New York Times bestseller. At the time it was announced, Rhimes joked “Simon and Schuster is crazy for giving me a book deal, as I am clearly in no position to be handing out wisdom.”

shonds rhimes year of yes
Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images

Details about the value of the book deal, including any advance Rhimes might have been paid by the publisher, were not made publicly available.

SourceSimon and SchusterThe Hollywood Reporter

In September 2017, she partnered with Hearst to launch lifestyle website Shondaland.com.

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Tom Cooper/Getty Images

SourceVariety

And in 2019, she partnered with iHeartMedia in a three-year podcast deal to launch Shondaland Audio.

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Shonda Rhimes is inducted into the Television Academy Hall of Fame on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2017 at the Television Academy’s Saban Media Center in North Hollywood, Calif. Associated Press

SourceiHeartMedia

At Elle Magazine’s 2018 Women in Hollywood celebration, Rhimes said she’s the highest-paid showrunner in Hollywood, but an April 2019 Observer ranking put her at No. 4 behind Greg Berlanti, Ryan Murphy, and Mike Schur. Regardless, Rhimes is clearly pocketing some of TV’s biggest paychecks.

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Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

SourceCBS NewsObserver

And she likes to spend that money on real estate. In 2010, she snapped up an 8,300-square-foot home in Los Angeles’ Hancock Park for $5.6 million. It sold in 2019 for $7.16 million.

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Hancock Park. Steve Proehl/Getty Images

SourceMansion Global

But Rhimes still has several residences in the area, like the 1920s Spanish-style duplex she bought in 2007 for $1.66 million and the English country manor house she purchased in 2017 for $4.6 million.

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Los Angeles. Smith Collection/Gado / Contributor/ Getty Images

SourceVariety

She also has the 8,400-square-foot Elmer Grey-designed mansion that she dropped $8.8 million on in 2014.

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Los Angeles. Karol Franks/Getty Images

SourceVariety

Rhimes may have a thing for LA real estate, but she expanded her portfolio to the East Coast in 2018 when she bought an $11.75 million two-bedroom penthouse on Manhattan’s Upper East Side.

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The Upper East Side. Barry Winiker/Getty Images

SourceMansion Global

Rhimes also spends on beauty and wellness. She wrote in her 2015 memoir that she hired a personal trainer to help her lose 100 pounds.

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Mike Coppola/VF19/Getty Images

SourceBusiness Insider

She told Marie Claire that when she was 16, she got a job scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins so she could buy a miniskirt and off-the-shoulder top to look like Madonna.

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Richard Shotwell/AP Images

SourceMarie Claire

Today, she has a “clothing therapist,” Asher Levine, who is known for dressing top female Hollywood execs.

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Rich Fury/VF20/Getty Images

SourceThe Hollywood Reporter

She’s also a huge fan of face masks, which she says she uses every day. Especially farmacy, a skincare brand with masks costing as much as $38.

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Earl Gibson III/Getty

SourceGlamourFarmacy Beauty

In her free time, Rhimes, a tennis fan, likes to attend Wimbledon matches. Tickets can range from several hundred dollars to $6,300.

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ANDREW COULDRIDGE/Reuters

SourceBaseline TennisCNBC

But she’s previously said her happy place is with her daughters. She adopted Harper and Emerson in 2002 and 2012, respectively, and had Beckett in 2013 via a surrogate. She said they help boost her creativity.

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Rhimes with daughter Harper. David Livingston/Getty Images

SourceEssenceABC NewsHollywood Reporter

Rhimes is also a philanthropist. In 2016, she established the Rhimes Family Foundation to support arts, education, and activism. It emphasizes cultural inclusion and equality.

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Danny Moloshok/Reuters

SourceInside Philanthropy

In 2017, she became a “patron of the arts” for IAMA Theatre Company. The amount of the endowment, provided by the Rhimes Family Foundation, was not disclosed.

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Getty Images/Mike Coppola

SourceLos Angeles Times

Through the Rhimes Family Foundation, Rhimes has given at least $10 million in grants to the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture …

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National Museum of African American History and Culture. Michael A. McCoy/Getty Images

SourceInside Philanthropy

… and at least $1 million to the Obama Foundation.

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Marla Aufmuth/Getty Images

SourceInside Philanthropy

She’s also a generous boss. Rhimes once bought everyone in the “Grey’s Anatomy” cast and crew a vacation to a luxury resort as a gift for the show’s 350th episode, “Grey’s” actor Kevin McKidd revealed in a “Live with Kelly and Ryan” interview in November 2019.

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The cast of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Kevin Winter/Getty Images

SourceMSN

But she’s not one for vacation herself. In 2016, she ditched her first three-week vacation in 10 years to film a short video for Hillary Clinton during Clinton’s campaign.

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Brian Snyder/Reuters

SourceVanity Fair

While Rhimes has a few splurges, they’re not atypical from any other celebrity. Her less than lavish lifestyle might be due to her humble upbringing.

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Mark Kauzlarich/Reuters

“When I was a struggling graduate student in film school, I often had no money,” she said in a commencement speech at Dartmouth, her undergrad alma mater. “And so I often had to choose between wine and things like toilet paper. Steak did not even enter into the equation.”

shonda rhimes dartmouth
Dartmouth/YouTube

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