Even Barack Obama knows who’s responsible for ABC’s primetime TGIT line-up. “Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night,” the President said during his diversity-themed commencement speech at Howard University today, “and Beyonce runs the world.”
Obama name-checked the two entertainment icons, among other success stories, as a measure of the culture’s improved racial diversity, yet cautioned the traditionally black Washington D.C. university that there was “still much work to do.” He urged the 2,300 graduates of the 2016 class not to fall into complacency. “I am not saying gaps do not persist,” the President said. “Obviously they do, racism percists, inequality persists.”
But, he added, “America is by almost every measure better than it was when I graduated from college” in 1983. “If you had a choose a time to be, in the words of Lorraine Hansberry, to be young, gifted and black in america, you would choose right now.”
Pointing to inroads made by black Americans, Obama said that Michael Jordan is no longer merely the “greatest basketball of all time, he owns the team” (Jordan is principal owner of the Charlotte Hornets). “We’re no longer [just] entertainers, we’re producers, studio executives.” He continued, “Shonda Rhimes owns Thursday night and Beyonce runs the world.”
Rhimes and her Shondaland production company have been cornerstones of ABC’s primetime programming with Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away With Murder.
Watch the President’s speech above – the Rhimes segment comes around the 11:35 mark.