"Shonda invites powerful, intelligent women to be her leads," Scandal's Kerry Washington says of her show's creator
Credit: Nino Munoz

Shonda Rhimes has surrounded herself with amazing talent – literally.

Standing among the casts of her three hit ABC dramas – Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder – the executive producer smiled and struck a pose for a photo exclusively shot in collaboration with Entertainment Weekly, Essence and PEOPLE in the Jewel Suite at the New York Palace hotel on May 12.

“Shonda invites powerful, intelligent women to be her leads,” Scandal‘s Kerry Washington says of her show’s creator and executive producer.

“Her identity as a woman – and the fact that she is a mother – lends to an understanding of people’s range of experiences in life,” Washington adds of Rhimes’ ability to helm Shondaland, the production company behind ABC’s entire "Thank God It’s Thursday" lineup.

HTGAWM‘s Viola Davis, for one, is in awe of Rhimes’ ability to multitask.

“There is a calmness that she exudes,” says Davis. “Even if internally that’s not what’s going on.”

RELATED VIDEO: Shonda Rhimes Poses with the Casts of Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder

As anticipation builds leading up to the Sept. 24 premieres of Rhimes’ shows, look to Time, Inc. for comprehensive coverage of all things T.G.I.T., starting with a roundtable discussion between Rhimes, Washington, Davis, and Ellen Pompeo in this week’s issue of

EW .

In addition to a Shondaland feature in an upcoming issue of PEOPLE, both EW and Essence will roll out multiple covers featuring various Shondaland cast members – all of which will be revealed exclusively each Thursday on ABC s Good Morning America beginning Sept. 3.

And for a behind-the-scenes look at the May 12 Shondaland photo shoot, pickup the latest issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands now.

Reporting by MELISSA MAERZ