WOMEN

Ellen Pompeo, Viola Davis And Kerry Washington Are Just As Badass As Their Characters

WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20:  Actresses Kerry Washington, Viola Davis and Ellen Pompeo arrive at the #TGIT Premiere Eve
WEST HOLLYWOOD, CA - SEPTEMBER 20: Actresses Kerry Washington, Viola Davis and Ellen Pompeo arrive at the #TGIT Premiere Event hosted by Twitter at Palihouse Holloway on September 20, 2014 in West Hollywood, California. (Photo by Amanda Edwards/WireImage)

For the few who haven't heard, Shonda Rhimes is pretty damn awesome. She's a screenwriter/director, was named one of TIME's most influential people in 2013 and owns her own production company. And the actresses she employs are not far behind.

On Thursday, Sept. 25, Rhimes' "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" return to TV with her newest show "How To Get Away With Murder," premiering directly after. Thanks to Rhimes and her production company ShondaLand, these shows depict some of the fiercest female characters to ever grace our TV screens.

Viola Davis is finally getting in the spotlight she so deserves, starring as Professor Annalise Keating in "How To Get Away With Murder." Eleven seasons in and Ellen Pompeo is still killing it as the dramatic and smart Meredith Grey on "Grey's Anatomy." And Kerry Washington makes us want to suit up in our gladiator armor for "Scandal's" Olivia Pope.

Both "Grey's Anatomy" and "Scandal" boast two of the most diverse casts on television. Shonda has brought powerful female characters alive on-screen, who somehow manage to feel real amidst a whole lot of crazy.

What's even better is that the women who play these characters are articulate, intelligent and truly understand the influence their roles have on the white-washed, male-dominated television landscape.

As Olivia Pope often says, "It's time to change the narrative" -- and that's exactly what these three actresses are doing.

To celebrate the start of this year's Shonda night, we've rounded up eight times Ellen Pompeo, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis prove they are just as fierce and inspirational as the characters they play on television.

  • 1. They speak out about domestic violence.
    "Financial abuse leaves invisible bruises that can take decades to heal."-- Kerry Washington in a September 2014 PSA on domestic abuse.
  • 2. They challenge racial stereotypes and urge us to do better.
    "We're in crisis mode as black actresses. Not only in the sheer number of roles that are offered and that are out there, but the quality of the roles." -- Viola Davis on Oprah's OWN, June 2013.
  • 3. They want TV to reflect what we see in real life.

    "Thank god Shonda Rhimes had this agenda to make television look like life, to make it look like the real world." -- Ellen Pompeo in a September 2014 interview with Buzzfeed Brews.
  • 4. They encourage women to be successful.
    "I work for a woman [Shonda Rhimes], who, because of her courage to step into her light, and step up and own her voice, has provided an opportunity for so many other women to soar in front of and behind the camera ... When we step up for ourselves, we create opportunity." -- Kerry Washington in her acceptance speech for the 2014 Women in Film Lucy Award for Excellence in Television.
  • 5. They know when they've earned something -- and they're not afraid to say it.

    "I want to be number one on the call sheet. I feel that I've worked long enough and hard enough that I deserve that." -- Viola Davis in a September 2014 interview with Buzzfeed Brews.
  • 6. They use their influence to advocate for diversity.

    “I’m extremely proud of our very, very diverse cast which represents the world that I walk around in every day.. I didn't see it last night when I watched the Emmys.” -- Ellen Pompeo in a September 2013 interview with the AP.
  • 7. They support a woman's right to choose.
    "[Mitt Romney] said he'd overturn Roe v. Wade." -- Kerry Washington in a 2012 political advertisement urging women to vote.
  • 8. They fight for women of color.

    "What keeps me in the business is hope. And that's the hope that women of color are also a part of the narrative." -- Viola Davis in her honoree speech for ELLE's 2011 Women In Hollywood event.
  • And just to get extra excited for Shonda Thursdays, here's a sneak peek of the three leading ladies teasing their new shows with Shonda Rhimes herself.

We think it's safe to say Thursdays are the new Fridays.

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