All About Harper, Emerson and Beckett

Shonda Rhimes has not only been at the helm of several successful television shows, but she is also the proud single mom to three children: Harper, Emerson and Beckett.

The Grey’s Anatomy creator has been open and honest about motherhood, including the difficulties of balancing a busy work life with being a parent.

“If you are a working mother you are often not there as much as you’d like to be,” she told Business Insider in a 2017 interview. “I said this once somewhere, that if I’m standing on set watching some amazing thing being shot, then I am missing my daughter’s science fair.”

Rhimes continued, “Or if I’m at my daughter’s dance recital, then I miss Sandra Oh’s very last day … That’s what happens. Those are the trade-offs.”

The producer welcomed Harper through adoption in 2002, and Emerson joined the family 10 years later. In 2013, Rhimes welcomed Beckett via surrogacy.

One of Shonda Rhimes’ daughters watching ‘Grey’s Anatomy.’.

Shonda Rhimes Instagram

Despite a packed schedule, Rhimes is committed to raising her daughters with care.

“They couldn’t be more different from one another, but they’re all stubborn — and I meant that in the best way,” the Emmy winner told Good Housekeeping in 2016. “No one will ever take advantage of them. They will always go their own way because they have decided they’re going to.”

“I don’t want to have a nice girl,” Rhimes added. “I’d rather have a stubborn girl.”

Here’s everything to know about Shonda Rhimes’ children: Harper, Emerson and Beckett.

Harper Lee Rhimes, 22

Shonda Rhimes and her daughter Harper Lee Rhimes.

Shonda Rhimes Instagram

Rhimes welcomed her oldest daughter, Harper Lee Rhimes, through adoption in 2002 — a decision the director made after the tragic events of 9/11.

In a 2006 conversation for O, The Oprah Magazine, Rhimes said that when she was 32 years old, she rented a farmhouse in Vermont to take a trip to “think about my life” and 9/11 happened the next day. While watching the events unfold on television, the screenwriter thought about everything she wanted to do, so she went home and hired an adoption attorney.

“Up until then, I’d spent a lot of time asking myself, ‘What’s wrong with my life?’ ” she said. “I was feeling so unhappy.”

Rhimes added, “Nine months and two days after 9/11, my daughter was born. I named her after Harper Lee. Now I can’t remember what I did with my time before she got here.”

Harper and her mom are close, but that doesn’t mean she watches everything Rhimes has created. In a 2022 interview with WSJ. Magazine, Rhimes revealed that none of her daughters had watched Grey’s Anatomy yet, saying that Harper “finds it horrifying that I’ve written a show that all of her friends have seen multiple times.”

“So she has never seen it and I have to say, I think that might be the best compliment ever,” the BAFTA winner explained. “I think about it like, her mother wrote a show that tells all her friends what to think about love and sex. So she’s not interested in watching it, and I think that’s a very good thing.”

In a 2017 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Harper said she “used to watch” Scandal, adding, “it hasn’t really grown on me in a while.”

Shonda Rhimes and daughter Harper at American Girl Place’s Go for IT event on April 26, 2008 in Los Angeles, California.

Amy Tierney/WireImage

Harper also shared that she is an artist who loves to dance and ride horses. When it comes to her favorite TV, she revealed that she enjoys watching Stranger Things, Shameless, Friends and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.

Rhimes added that while Harper had shown an interest in producing, she wasn’t sure she wanted a career in entertainment.

Still, Harper got a little taste of the industry once, when she made a quick appearance in the 2018 series finale of Scandal. She was only on the show for about 30 seconds as one of the kids looking at a portrait of Olivia Pope.

After graduating from the Los Angeles-area Marlborough School in 2019, Harper enrolled at Parsons School of Design in New York City, where she studies business and is set to graduate in 2025, per her LinkedIn.

Outside of the classroom, she is the founder and CEO of the nonprofit Serve a Purpose, which connects professionals with “at-risk youth” who may not have access otherwise. The foundation offers several services, including therapy, yoga and career-building sessions with experts, according to its website.

Although Harper tends to keep her life more private, followers can sometimes catch a glimpse of the mother-daughter duo on Rhimes’ Instagram, like in April 2023, when the showrunner shared a photo of herself and Harper dressed up.

“They grow up so fast,” she wrote in the caption. “Had a great time in London with my fabulous daughter.”

Emerson Pearl Rhimes, 12

Shonda Rhimes visits SiriusXM Studios on May 04, 2023 in New York City.

Jason Mendez/Getty

Rhimes welcomed her second daughter, Emerson Pearl Rhimes, through adoption in 2012.

Four years later, Rhimes opened up in a TED talk about how Emerson helped get her creative spark back when she was feeling burnt out. She explained that Emerson, who was a toddler at the time, referred to everyone as “honey” as if she were a “Southern waitress.”

One day, Emerson asked Rhimes if she wanted to play with her, and Rhimes realized that Emerson was no longer calling anyone “honey.”

Once she realized how fast time was going by, Rhimes decided to start saying “yes” to her daughter when she asked if she wanted to play. Focusing more on finding creativity and joy rather than stressing over work helped Rhimes get back into the groove.

“My kids are my happy place,” she said. “They’re my world.”

Beckett, 11

Shonda Rhimes attends the Vanity Fair Oscars Party on March 10, 2024 in Beverly Hills, California.


Rhimes welcomed her third daughter, Beckett, in 2013 via surrogacy.

She posted the happy announcement on X (formerly Twitter), writing, “Been AWOL from Twitter. I totally have a good reason: TINY HUMAN #3 is here and she’s perfect! Babies are good. Life is good. #2shows3kids.”

In 2016, Rhimes revealed that Beckett was a huge fan of women’s gymnastics after Gabby Douglas helped the United States bring home a gold medal at the Olympics.

“True story,” she wrote on X. “Yesterday my 3 yr old announced that her name is now GabbyDouglas Rhimes.”

Though Beckett is still young, Rhimes has made it clear that she is striving for her and her sisters to grow up to be strong women.

In a commencement speech for Dartmouth University, per The Bump, Rhimes said, “I want my daughters to see me and know me as a woman who works. In their world, mothers run companies.”

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