Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Shonda Rhimes doesn’t exactly get a lot of time off. As the queen of TV Thursdays and someone who says “yes” to a lot of new opportunities, she was surprised to get three full weeks for vacation (for the first time in 12 years)—until Hillary Clinton’s team asked her to start a new project.
When the Democratic presidential nominee requested that Rhimes film a short documentary of the candidate to air at the DNC, it was an easy choice. “Shonda and I looked at each other and went, ‘There goes vacation,'” Rhimes’ producing partner, Betsy Beers, told PEOPLE.
But the experience was definitely worth missing out on the PTO: “It was invigorating,” Rhimes said in the same interview. “The geeky student in me who loves doing homework and research, I got to immerse myself in photos and articles. I’ve spent more time on Hillary Clinton’s Flickr page than any other human being on the planet.”
Rhimes and Beers sifted through Clinton’s entire personal life and political career to highlight the major accomplishments and pull out anecdotes Americans haven’t heard before. They interviewed President Barack Obama on Clinton’s infectious laugh and tenacity. They included stories from September 11 survivors who Clinton personally helped after the attacks. They even delved into the topic of Clinton’s mother, Dorothy, who grew up in a neglectful household and taught Clinton to be brave at a young age.
It also was an entirely new craft for Rhimes, who creates scripted television dramas. “As a writer who builds characters for a living, it was exciting to take an actual human being and pieces of who she is and see how it builds a person and her character, why she is who she is,” she said to PEOPLE. “Given the Trumpiness of the world today, we felt like we were doing the work of angels… And the best part? I didn’t have to add a plot twist!”
Read the full interview at PEOPLE.com, and watch the documentary above.