Rhimes, who cast Carroll in her Emmy-nominated role of Preston Burke's mother on Grey's Anatomy, paid tribute to the groundbreaking actress, who died Friday at age 84, in an Instagram post. "The power and impact of Diahann Carroll is immeasurable," Rhimes wrote. "As the first, she escorted the tv drama into the 20th century. Her Julia Baker is queen mother to Olivia Pope's existence. Her Dominque Devereux is fairy godmother to Olivia's fierce style. Because of her, I could. Writing her as Preston Burke's mother was the honor of a lifetime. Knowing her was everything. A hero has gone to glory."
Diahann Carroll lobbied Aaron Spelling to join Dynasty: "Carroll reached out to Aaron Spelling and suggested to one of the producer’s colleagues that Dynasty — which had dealt, however controversially, with homosexuality and other hot-button issues — had tackled just about everything except racial integration. To do that, they first had to integrate the cast," says Bethonie Butler. "But nothing happened until Barbra Streisand invited Carroll to sing a song from Yentl at the 1983 Golden Globe Awards. Knowing Spelling would be there, she dressed the part. After the ceremony, Carroll went to the private Los Angeles nightclub where Spelling and his colleagues were celebrating. Spelling later told People that after seeing Carroll, he and Dynasty co-creator Esther Shapiro ='looked at each other and said, 'My God, she is Dynasty. When Carroll came on board, she had one mandate for the show’s writers: 'Don’t try to write for who you think I am — write for a white man who wants to be wealthy and powerful.'"