Shonda Rhimes spills on Callie and Arizona’s new love lives and Portia on “Scandal”

Shonda Rhimes was part of the Television Critics Association yesterday where she sat on a panel for her TGIT line-up alongside the stars of her shows Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder as well as producing partners Betsy Beers and Pete Nowalk. Ellen Pompeo, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis joined the Shondaland creatives in discussing their respective roles and storylines for the fall seasons, as well as some intel on others not in attendance. Shonda talked about how Grey’s will be “lighter” than last season with a theme of “rebirth.”

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Shonda, who is an ally and the winner of  awards from both GLAAD and the HRC, also shared that social media has allowed her to participate in discussions with fans about the LGBT storylines on all three of her shows.

“There’s a huge, huge, sort of, beautiful Calzona fan base online that I have a very special place in my heart for that spends a lot of time having conversation,” Shonda said. “So, to me, there’s a really I think there’s a really beautiful community online that’s very supportive and very excited and very invested in the storylines that I’ve spent time with, you know, in terms of who is talking to me online. So and they seem very excited about Zyra’s story lines. And I’ve heard stuff about the How To Get Away with Murder storyline. So, to me, it seems very supportive. It’s very rare that I see something that’s not supportive.”

We spoke with Shonda after the panel about Callie and Arizona’s upcoming storylines and seeing more of Portia de Rossi as Lizzie Bear on Scandal

AfterEllen.com: Is there any hope for Calzona to get back together this season?

Shonda Rhimes: There’s always hope. I really feel like the way we guide the story is we watch and see what happens. I mean, I do: I watch, I see what happens, see how chemistry swings and that’s what guides us. I don’t go, “Here’s what’s happening, no matter what,” because I change my mind all the time. Last season, I was like, “I don’t know—maybe, maybe not.” My problem is that I’m a giant Calzona fan so I’m always rooting for them. So I’m watching how the ship goes, basically.

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AE: You mentioned on the panel earlier that there will be a lot of single women dating on the show this season. Does that include the both of them and will they be dating women?

SR: Yes they are. Yes they will. Callie and Arizona will both be dating, which is exciting, I think. They’ll be dating women. We talked about that a lot in the writers’ room. We talked a lot in the writers’ room: “Is Callie going to be dating men? Is Callie going to be dating women?” Because the character is bisexual, we talked about it a lot. Just the way the story fell out, she’s going to be dating a woman because that’s what feels right. We’re telling lighter stories this season. There’s gonna be some really fun stuff going on.

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AE: Portia de Rossi said she wanted to be on Scandal and you wrote a part for her, which is a straight role. Some people have this idea that gay actors can’t play straight roles–was it ever a consideration that you might have her play a lesbian character?

SR: I just neverI don’t think that matters. To me, that’s ridiculous. An actor is an actor. The same way I never said Guillermo [Díaz] couldn’t play a straight guy. It just never even entered my mind. She’s an actress–she can play a character.

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AE: It’s kind of the opposite of Portia in real life.

SR: You know what’s wonderful? It is. She does it amazingly and I think she enjoys getting to shed her real self and playing something completely different the wayyou know, Olivia Pope is very different from Kerry and she loves playing somebody completely different. Guillermo could not be more different this his character, and he loves it. So I think she just enjoys putting on a whole other character during the day and she gets really intense this season, and it’s really fun to watch. We get to see a lot more of her character. At the end of last season, we watched her put her box down in Cyrus’s office and put her little vase down on the desk. She’s taking control in the White House so we get to see a lot more of her this season and it’s really fun.

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AE: Is there any chance we could see more lesbian or bisexual women on your shows outside of Grey’s?

SR: Always. My brain is thinking. I don’t think there’s anything specifically planned right now, but we’re only into the first three episodes of both shows. 

All three Shonda shows return for all new seasons on Thursday, September 24 on ABC.