‘How to Get Away with Murder’ Creator Shonda Rhimes and Star Viola Davis Fire Off at ‘New York Times’ Writer

Viola Davis and Shonda Rhimes have turned on a New York Times writer for taking aim at their looks and personality in a new article.

Journalist Alessandra Stanley compared the How to Get Away With Murder star to Kerry Washington and Halle Berry in an article about Davis’ new TV series last week, suggesting Davis “doesn’t look at all like the typical star of a network drama”.

The writer added, “Ignoring the narrow beauty standards some African-American women are held to, (show creator Shonda) Rhimes chose a performer who is older, darker-skinned and less classically beautiful than (Kerry) Washington, or for that matter Halle Berry, who played an astronaut on the summer mini-series Extant.”

Taking to Twitter in response to the article, Davis has quoted late poet Maya Angelou, writing, “You may shoot me with your words, you may cut me with your eyes, you may kill me with your hatefulness, But still, like air, I’ll rise!!!”

In the article, Stanley also criticizes Rhimes, writing, “When Shonda Rhimes writes her autobiography, it should be called How to Get Away With Being an Angry Black Woman.

“(She) has embraced the trite but persistent caricature of the Angry Black Woman, recast it in her own image and made it enviable. She has almost single-handedly trampled a taboo even Michelle Obama couldn’t break. (Her) work is mercifully free of uplifting role models, parables and moral teachings.”

Rhimes responded, “Confused why @nytimes critic doesn’t know identity of CREATOR of show she’s reviewing. @petenowa did u know u were “an angry black woman”?”

She continued, “Apparently we can be “angry black women” together, because I didn’t know I was one either!”

Following a barrage of feedback from readers, Stanley has insisted her intentions were misunderstood. The Times‘ culture editor, Danielle Mattoon, has released a statement offering her regret.

It reads: “There was never any intent to offend anyone and I deeply regret that it did. Alessandra used a rhetorical device to begin her essay, and because the piece was so largely positive, we as editors weren’t sensitive enough to the language being used.

“I do think there were interesting and important ideas raised that are being swamped… This is a signal to me that we have to constantly remind ourselves as editors of our blind spots, what we don’t know, and of how readers may react.”

Stanley adds, “In the review, I referenced a painful and insidious stereotype solely in order to praise Ms. Rhimes and her shows for traveling so far from it. If making that connection between the two offended people, I feel bad about that. But I think that a full reading allows for a different takeaway than the loudest critics took…. (and) I commended Ms. Rhimes for casting an actress who doesn’t conform to television’s narrow standards of beauty.”

Photo Credit:Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com/ Helga Esteb / Shutterstock.com


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