3 Shondaland Lessons to Carry into Women's History Month


"Our country is in crisis. Together, we can fix it."

This line, delivered by Annalise Keating of How To Get Away With Murder, spoke volumes to Black women around the world during this week's episode of Scandal. The statement holds as much value in our current real-world circumstance as it does within the context of the show. Genius producer Shonda Rhimes ended Black History Month and kicked off Women's History Month in a more profound way than any of us could have ever imagined.  Her double serving of Scandal/HTGAWM crossover episodes brought together the two most iconic Black-Girl-Boss characters on television today (Annalise Keating and Olivia Pope, if you haven't guessed)...and chile, they had some wisdom to share! Grab your notebooks.

Lesson #1: Always ask for help

Black women are the most educated minority population by percentage, and the fastest growing group of female entrepreneurs. In combination with our deep sense of pride in being independent, one might understand why it can be so hard for us to ask for help, but maybe we're thinking about this the wrong way. A simple tweak in our perspective will show us that we're surrounded by the best resources we could ever think to use - other Black women! We have all heard the saying, "iron sharpens iron." There is absolutely no reason for you not to reach your full potential amongst a pool of women who can help you to harness it. Recognize each other's strengths and leverage them!

At the beginning of this week's episode of Scandal, Annalise tracks down Olivia Pope and asks her to help bring her case to the Supreme Court. Annalise reminds Olivia of her strength and influence, even at the lowest point of Olivia's career. Before we know it, we're watching two incredibly powerful forces work together to rectify an issue that has plagued our community for decades! What could your gentle (or not-so-gentle) nudge do for a fellow Black Girl Boss in a time where her spirit may be crushed? What could her boost in confidence do for you and for the rest of our community?

Lesson #2: Never let them see you sweat

On How to Get Away with Murder, on the heels of a personal spat (at the beauty shop, no less), Olivia and Annalise find themselves together on a news reporter's couch to address the huge case they're taking on together. Despite heightened tensions between the two, they lift each other up in the public eye.

Our words are so powerful, and often negative words tend to stick more than the positive ones. Sometimes we underestimate the impact our words may have on the fate of others. What if we could treat our fellow entrepreneurs the way Olivia & Annalise treated each other on that interview couch? Let's make it a point to share each others' strengths with the world, and work together privately on our weaknesses. We have the buying power, the influence, and the skill level to create a sustainable ecosystem within our community; let's make it happen.

Lesson #3: Take care of yourself.

Toward the very end of HTGAWM, we are left with this bonus gem from Ophelia - Annalise's mother and our favorite #BlackGirlBoss in all of Shondaland:

"Fixin', fixin', fixin'...sometimes that doesn't leave you any time for yourself."

As Black women, we are born with a very specific weight on our shoulders to care for everyone around us; our family, our friends, our partners, that coworker who can't seem handle any news that isn't paired with a forced "office smile"...the list goes on and on. We tend to worry so much about others that we often forget that we can't pour out of an empty cup! In the midst of making everyone around us happy, it can be so easy to miss our own calling. At the climax of a complete meltdown and on the edge of an alcoholic relapse, Annalise gets a firm reminder from Olivia: "This case chose you." That small bit of encouragement gave Annalise the energy to dig deep and pull herself together just in time for the most momentous occasion in her entire career.

What distractions are keeping you from the mission that has chosen you? Take some time to center yourself and make sure that you are taken care of. Your outpouring of love for everyone else will follow naturally.

Not at all to my surprise, the meeting and collaboration of Olivia Pope and Annalise Keating left a glowing inspiration in my heart and the hearts of many others. As Ms. Pope mentioned in the opening of this amazing interaction, we have the power to heal many of the scars of our nation. I'll leave you to the rest of your Women's History Month with some wise words from Maya Angelou: "Ain't nothin to it but to do it."