Shonda Rhimes announced today that she’s backing IAMA Theatre, an L.A.-based nonprofit with strong ties to Shondaland-produced shows including Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy. The 9-year-old company named Rhimes its first “Patron of the Arts” and said her contribution (the amount was not specified) will fund, among other things, the Rhimes Unsung Voices Playwriting Commission.
“I chose IAMA because attending their shows has brought me so much joy,” Rhimes said in the announcement of the endowment, which will come through the recently formed Rhimes Family Foundation. “Their productions made me finally feel the way one does when exploring the New York Off-Broadway world of theater. Fresh voices filled with creativity. And they’ve accomplished it all on a shoe-string budget. That ends now.”
The objective of the grant, according to a company spokesman, will be to “help grow and nourish the theater community in Los Angeles for budding playwrights and artists, allowing writers the chance to develop new plays with one of Los Angeles’s most exciting young theater companies. Funding will have special emphasis on cultural inclusion – all with the goal of showcasing fresh, creative, thought-provoking work.”
Nearly a decade ago, Scandal star and IAMA co-artistic director Katie Lowes arrived in LA from New York and met similar-minded actors hungry for stage experience to complement their work in film and television.
“When we all moved out to L.A., none of us had family here,” Lowes recently told BuzzFeed News. “But these people are my family, for sure. We’ve been able to do wonderful things that are important and give you a sense of purpose and sense of family. It’s the best thing I’ve done out here. I would be lost without it.”
IAMA is an ensemble promoting new artists and developing provocative new work. “We could not be more honored for Ms. Rhimes’s contribution to our company,” said Christian Durso, IAMA’s Co-Artistic Director. “She is a trailblazing storyteller in the 21st century and a champion for underrepresented voices. She fits perfectly with our mission to grow a new generation of theater artists and engage a passionate Los Angeles theater audience.”
IAMA won the 2014 Ovation Award for Best Intimate Theatre in Los Angeles for The Recommendation. Next up is the world premiere of Dorothy Fortenberry’s Species Native To California, directed by Eli Gonda (Husbands). It runs May 11 – June 11 at the Atwater Village Theater.