Date of Award

Summer 8-2021

Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair

Dr. Cheryl Jenkins

Committee Chair School


Committee Member 2

Dr. Loren Saxton Coleman

Committee Member 2 School


Committee Member 3

Dr. Christopher Campbell

Committee Member 3 School


Committee Member 4

Dr. Fei Xue

Committee Member 4 School


Committee Member 5

Dr. Vanessa Murphree

Committee Member 5 School



This dissertation investigates the politics of re-presentation of the two Black leading characters in Shonda Rhimes’s televised series, Scandal (Olivia Pope) and How to Get Away with Murder (Annalise Keating). This textual analysis explores how the characters are re-represented as leaders at the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality using Kimberlé Crenshaw’s (1989) theory of intersectionality. This study also imposes Patricia Hill Collins’s (2005) matrix of domination to explicate how the hegemonic structure of the concrete ceiling conditions their identities and exertion of power in the workplace. To do this, the researcher investigated cultural workplace expectations tied to notions about Black women, the ways white culture is levied in the workplace.

Their re-presentations as leaders can be summed according to four themes: highly competent, Supermammy, modern-day sapphire, and the loveless Black boss. Each trope articulated a performance of Black women affirming identities in heteronormative spaces. The concrete ceiling was depicted as a culture that affirmed the workplace as a matrix of domination. This analysis also revealed that in the culture of the concrete class ceiling, competency is an intersectional notion for Black women, containing both an emotional and cultural power dynamic.

This analysis found that particular variances in the characters’ social, cultural, and political experiences demonstrated how Black women’s workplace experiences are intersectionality different and concludes that the shows reinforce a post-racial narrative about Black women’s experiences in the workforce.