The longer “Grey’s Anatomy” has gone on, the more Chandra Wilson wants to finish what she started.
“The stubborn part of me is kind of like, I want to be a starter and a finisher, right? So, very last episode, very last scene, very last day. That's exactly what I want to do,” she told HuffPost in between filming episodes of the show’s 19th season. “But I was saying that, like, back in season four, and then season six, and then season 10. So now, it's just sheer determination in order to meet that goal. That would be an amazing story to tell.”
Since 2005, Wilson has starred as the stalwart Dr. Miranda Bailey on ABC’s long-running medical drama, created by Shonda Rhimes. As one of only three original cast members remaining as a series regular, Wilson has portrayed Bailey through a hell of a lot, from surgical resident managing five new, bright-eyed interns at Seattle Grace Hospital, all the way up to chief of surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial. From giving birth while a live bomb was in the hospital, to holding one of her subordinates as he bled to death during a mass shooting, you name it, Bailey has probably been through it. In recent seasons, when the show tackled the COVID-19 pandemic in ways few other scripted shows did, Bailey lost her mom to the virus. As the pandemic accelerated hospital workers’ burnout and created a shortage of physicians, Bailey joined the Great Resignation, finally quitting as chief of surgery in the Season 18 finale.
Prior to landing “Grey’s,” Wilson had spent more than a decade as a stage and screen actor in New York, after graduating from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in 1991. While working at Deutsche Bank to pay her rent, she racked up credits in everything from “The Cosby Show,” “Philadelphia,” “Law and Order,” “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos.” On stage, she starred in productions on and off-Broadway, including “Little Shop of Horrors,” “On the Town,” “Avenue Q,” and the Tony-nominated musical “Caroline, or Change.”
In addition to her many talents on screen, Wilson — who has won two SAG Awards, three NAACP Image Awards and been nominated for four Emmys for playing Bailey — has directed episodes of “Grey’s” since its sixth season. Since then, she has branched out to other shows, directing episodes of Freeform’s “Good Trouble” and “The Fosters.”
In a long conversation ahead of the “Grey’s” Season 19 premiere Thursday, Wilson talked about building her long career in television, film and theater, still getting paid for her memorable role on “Sex and the City,” reuniting with Rhimes and former “Grey’s” star Sandra Oh at the Emmys recently, and directing a feature film if “Grey’s” ever ends.
Illustration: Damon Scheleur/HuffPost
Chandra Wilson at the 2007 Screen Actors Guild Awards, when she won Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Drama Series, and, with the cast of “Grey’s Anatomy,” won Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Wilson and Sandra Oh in season 2 of “Grey’s Anatomy,” when Cristina Yang (Oh) has an ectopic pregnancy. (Photo by Craig Sjodin/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)
Actors' Equity Association, the union representing theater actors and stage managers.
Chandra Wilson and Kim Cattrall in the season 5 premiere of “Sex and the City” in 2002. (credit: HBO)
In a 2002 episode of the HBO series, Wilson appears briefly — and memorably — as a cop who notices Samantha (Kim Cattrall) "defacing public property." When Samantha explains she's hanging up flyers showing a picture of her cheating boyfriend, Wilson's character immediately understands and says: "Carry on, ma'am."
Wilson (center), with T.R. Knight and Kate Walsh in the Super Bowl episode of “Grey’s Anatomy,” when Bailey gives birth while the hospital is on lockdown due to a patient with a bomb inside of his body. (Photo by Scott Garfield/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)
"It's the End of the World" aired on February 5, 2006, as that year's Super Bowl lead-out program. The first of a two-episode arc, it was the show's most ambitious episode at that point. It follows the characters as they deal with a patient who has an unexploded piece of ammunition, sending the hospital into lockdown. With guest stars like Christina Ricci as the paramedic who brings in the patient and Kyle Chandler as the head of the bomb squad, the episode remains the most-watched of the series.
Aired on May 20, 2010, the two-hour Season 6 finale, "Sanctuary" and "Death and All His Friends," depicts a mass shooting at the hospital. Bailey holds one of her subordinates, surgical resident Charles Percy, as he bleeds to death from a gunshot wound.
Chandra Wilson directing Ellen Pompeo in a season 10 episode of “Grey’s Anatomy.” (Photo by Danny Feld/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)
The seventh episode of Season 6, "Give Peace a Chance" follows neurosurgeon Dr. Derek "McDreamy" Shepherd (Patrick Dempsey), as he struggles to figure out a risky operation on a patient's tumor, which has been deemed unoperable. It's one of several more experimental and format-breaking "Grey's" episodes during this period of the show. For the episode, Wilson won the NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Directing in a Dramatic Series.
McKidd plays Dr. Owen Hunt, and like Wilson, frequently directs episodes of the show.
In Season 10, following a mental health crisis in which Bailey stopped operating after a MRSA infection killed three of her patients, she was diagnosed with OCD.
During the Season 14 episode "(Don’t Fear) the Reaper," Bailey has a heart attack.
Ben Warren (Jason George) is Bailey's husband. They first met when he was an anesthesiologist in Season 6. He later changed careers to surgical resident, and after that, a firefighter, as one of the main characters on the "Grey's" spinoff, "Station 19."
Vernoff has served as "Grey's" showrunner since 2017, taking over from Rhimes when she left ABC for Netflix. A longtime "Grey's" writer and executive producer, Vernoff previously served as co-showrunner from 2005 to 2011.
Wilson and Jason George in the Season 14 episode “(Don’t Fear) the Reaper.” (Mitch Haaseth/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty Images)
Over the years, as cast members come and go, the show often adds new classes of surgical interns and residents. In Season 19, five actors — Niko Terho, Adelaide Kane, Midori Francis, Harry Shum Jr., and Alexis Floyd — will star as Grey Sloan's newest interns.
Wilson at the 74th Primetime Emmy Awards on Sept. 12. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
'Grey's Anatomy' Star
Chandra Wilson Is Determined To Play Dr. Miranda Bailey
Until The End
By Marina Fang
James Pickens Jr. plays Dr. Richard Webber. At the start of the show, he is chief of surgery. Since then, he has had many jobs and is a mentor figure to many of the main characters, including Bailey.
The actor and director looks back on her long career, as the ABC medical drama heads into an astonishing 19th season.
Where are you in terms of the season now? What episodes are you filming?
We are — let's see, we've finished one, two, five, six. Yeah. So we're getting ready to do episode seven.
How does it typically work? Are you usually filming pretty close to when the episodes air?
It depends on the time of year, right? So once we air in October, we'll have seven finished — filming, not in post. But then as the time creeps and the weeks go by, then it becomes fewer and fewer. So usually by the end of the year, or the end of the season, we're maybe three episodes ahead, and that's it. So the cushion we have is right now, but then once we get to our winter finale, we'll often only be like maybe two or three ahead. So it catches up really quick.
What's the latest that you've gotten the script, and then you're like, "Oh god, I have to shoot this now"?
Oh my. Well, it's more about if we need to go in and change something, or go in and reshoot something, or go in and add a scene. I mean, we've added content the week before an episode airs because the producers felt like there was a moment missing. “Everything's done, we just need this one moment!” So we've come close to the wire a couple times.
I'm such a huge fan of the show, so it's so great to talk to you. And it's just amazing that it's been on for so long.
Who are you telling?! [Laughs.] It's very cool. We couldn't be more complimented by that.
I also love that you were at the Emmys, and I saw you had a little reunion with Shonda and Sandra. What was that like? I assume you haven't seen them in a while.
Well yeah, it's been a minute.
It's the first time since quarantine I've been in that big a room without a mask, so that was like, “Ooh. Oh, my goodness." So it's kind of getting used to that part again. And Shonda and I were at the same table, so we got the chance to talk through, and then Sandra popped over for a quick minute right before her category was called. Otherwise, we would've kidnapped her for a little while longer. So I said, "Let's just snap a picture real quick,” because it had been a minute, just in case I wasn't able to find her later.
But it's really nice to be in those rooms again. You don't realize how much you missed the camaraderie. But then also, we're so used to the distance of the past two years that you're in the same room, but you still don't quite go close, right? Like, I didn't go table-hop, you know, walk around and talk to a bunch of folks because I still felt like I was still insulated inside of my little pod. So my pod became my table. But we were still in the room with everybody else.
We still have some decompressing to do, coming out of COVID.
I feel the same way too, going to big events. It's still kind of scary. It’s always like, "Oh God, so many people!”
Right, right? It's still like, not… quite… yet? But, you know, we'll try. We'll try.
Thinking about the longevity of the show, as an actor, even when things are going well, you're going from job to job, usually. So what has the stability and the routine and the regularity of “Grey's” meant to you as an actor, and also just as a person, being able to know that you have a job?
It has been amazing to be able to literally be in one place for an extended period of time as an actor. So it's the best of all the worlds, where I am acting every single day, right? And people say, "Yeah, but it's the same person.” But I'm like, people change over time, and it's been a treat to watch this woman, Miranda Bailey, who she was in that first episode, and who she is today. And to be able to say that she hasn't changed, she hasn't grown, she hasn't evolved, she may not think so — but she has. And that human experiment is the stuff that actors do. So to be able to bring that journey onward and forward, that's just been the biggest, biggest blessing.
And then to know where I'm going every day [laughs], and what it is that I'm doing. So you know, that has been an amazing thing for me as an actor. But again, I'm somebody that that would work well with. Whereas the next person would be like, "No, no, no, I need to do different things, I need to go different places, and I need to play different people.” And that is just as valid, and an amazing thing to know. Because everybody's not going to do this thing that I did. So I am always aware of how — Jim Pickens calls it “rarefied air,” that we get to live in. And I'm constantly aware of that and thankful for it.
Do you want to stay on “Grey's” as long as it will go on, you think?
The stubborn part of me is kind of like, I want to be a starter and a finisher, right? So, very last episode, very last scene, very last day. That's exactly what I want to do. But I was saying that back in Season 4, and then Season 6, and then Season 10. So now, it's just sheer determination in order to meet that goal. That would be an amazing story to tell.
I know you've told this story before, but it's so wild that you kept your temp job until Season 2, right? Just to make sure, in case “Grey's” didn't work out, that you had your job to go back to.
It was all about not putting all your eggs in one basket. TV shows are not promised. You know, anything past the pilot is just a bonus. And we were a mid-season replacement show at that point, which meant that we weren't going to have a life. So it's like, "OK, excuse me for a minute while I go do this thing, I'll be back.” And that's 100% what I thought.
And you were in New York, right? You hadn't moved to LA, because you were still like, "I don't know if this show's going to work out"?
Exactly. That's one of the actor rules. Especially if you have a rent-stabilized apartment, you keep your place. Don't let it go.
To go back in time a little bit to when you started, you graduated from NYU, and you started doing a lot of theater and TV.
Yes, when I graduated, I was doing a show called “The Good Times Are Killing Me” at the Second Stage Theater, and then we moved down to the Minetta Lane Theater for a run. So basically, I got my equity card right when I graduated. I had done another piece while I was still at NYU called “The Forbidden City” at The Public Theater. And I had started the audition circuit. So you do all the things in New York: You do the “Law and Order,” you do the soaps, you do the “All My Children,” you do the “One Life to Live,” you do the “Sesame Street.”
And that is what the actor life was going to be. Auditions, and you do a voice-over and that's great, and then you go back to your temp job, and then you get a commercial. Yay, great. That'll be nice for residuals for a year, and then you go back to your temp job, you know? You do stage readings, you do opera, or you do Broadway, and it's just a whole circle of things where one thing is no more important than the other thing. It's all acting, it all gets you health insurance, it all gets you in the union. And that is what working as a professional actor is, and that's what I was doing.
Was that what you were expecting coming out of NYU: Audition for all the shows and see where it takes you?
So it helped a lot – it was a great vote of confidence – to come out of school working on a show. Because then I knew that it was possible, and I knew that, “OK, great, great, you do this, you get paid every Thursday, it's nice.” And in the meantime, I had my temp jobs to make sure that my rent was paid every month, and I wasn't having to ask for a bunch of help. And I always kept it temp instead of permanent because then that way, when an acting job came along, I could do that and then go back to temping. And that's what I thought the life of a working actor was going to be: that you have your bread and butter thing that you hold onto to make sure that your rent's paid, and then every now and then, you get a chance to do a film, or you do a movie or a television show, something that can bring in a little bit more money to sustain you when you're out of work again.
It's always about: You're really kind of out of work until you get a job, and then that job will help you stay out of work.
What kind of temp jobs did you have?
So, coming out of school in '91, I had just taken my computer class [laughs] where I learned the best of Word and Excel and PowerPoint. So I was considered at that time to be an operator. Because at first when I was temping, I was sealing envelopes, doing stamps, all that kind of stuff. But once I became an operator and took my word processing test [laughs] in order to prove that I knew how to work with this newfangled stuff, then that gave me the better income. I was working at, it was Bankers’ Trust at the time, before Deutsche Bank took over, working the overnight shift.
That way, I was available during the day to audition, or if I had a job or whatever, I'd go to work at night. I only had to work, like, four nights a week, and I was making the top tier of the temp income because I was an operator on the overnight shift. That's all I needed. I was good. I was set. So yeah, as an operator for an investment banking firm, you are basically creating and doing the edits for IPOs and mergers and acquisitions and whatever the banking documents come through the center that need to be ready for presentation the next day.
Wow. That sounds hard.
Oh no, it was fancy. No, it was fine. I was good at it. I was good. I was a supervisor for a while too. So it was cool.
You mentioned “Law and Order,” and I feel like every New York actor does “Law and Order” or the spinoffs. It's funny because I feel like “Grey's,” in a way, has become like “Law and Order” for actors starting out in LA.
Maybe so! The amazing thing is, we're still getting first timers. We don't have a bunch of repeaters. We're still getting prominent, seasoned actors coming through the show for the first time in Season 19. So it's cute. Unlike the “Law and Order,” where yeah, if you watch long enough, you'll see me in a few because I did two SVUs and a regular mothership. So if you’re watching on rotation, it'd be like, "There she goes again.”
One other show I want to talk about from that period of your career is, I always get a kick out of seeing you on “Sex and the City.”
Mm-hmm. I was so happy to have that job, you don't understand. When they called me, it was right on time, right on time. And yeah, it was a treat to do that. It was kind of last minute, I think. Sarah Jessica was pregnant at the time, and we needed to shoot something, you know, because the schedule was getting rearranged because she wasn't able to come in.
It was so much fun, and I just could not wait to get the check from that. I still have my residuals, my little $10 residuals that still come today. I'm like, "Thank you, ‘Sex and the City,’ I appreciate you!"
I love that you're still getting paid for that.
Oh, yes! Oh, yes! $10 before taxes, so then the check's like, $3.73 or whatever. But it's fine. It's my $3.73 that I made.
When “Grey's” started, do you remember when you felt like something really shifted? Like, “this show is huge, like, bigger than anything I've ever done”?
I had never done dramatic series television before, so that component was already there. But because where we shoot is a small studio, we're kind of isolated, and it's just us and “General Hospital” now. At the time, I think “The Shield” was shooting there with us, and maybe, like, Soapnet [laughs], the talk shows, when they used to have talk shows for soap operas. That's all we had at our studio. So because we were so isolated, we were really kind of set apart from any other studio life or fans coming around, and all of that. And again, we were a mid-season replacement show, and we finished our first season the same week that we aired. So it's not really until we came back for Season 2 that we started to grow in popularity.
And then in Season 2, we did the Super Bowl episode, and that was it. We were off and running after that because we got that Super Bowl audience that hung around after. And it was a dramatic show: blowing up, blood, Kyle Chandler, the whole thing. And after that, we were like "Oh, OK, we're that show.” I think that's how long it took me, until the Super Bowl episode.
That's when we brought the guys in. Because up till that point, it was the girls and the dorms and everything, and we brought the guys in with the Super Bowl episode.
That's an amazing, amazing episode. On that note of really big episodes, are there any really big scenes or episodes that, to this day, you'll just never forget what filming it was like?
When you started directing, which was I think that season, right? Season 6?
When did you first start thinking, "Oh, directing might be a great new step in my career”? And then, how did you start to figure out how to do that?
I think my two favorite will always be the pilot, always that: Establishing what in the world this show was going to be about and who Miranda Bailey was going to be, her cadence, the tone, the music, all of that evolution of the show. It all started basically with that pilot. Anytime I'm confused about who Dr. Bailey is or what the show is about, you go back, and you watch that pilot, and you go, "Oh, OK, I got it. I got it.”
But then, end of Season 6, the shooter. When I got pulled out from under that bed, and poor Charlie dying, and making the choice to sit with him instead of trying to get him to surgery — like, that was just actor candy.
Mm-hmm, in Season 6. Yeah.
I did not think of it, at all. I never saw myself as a dramatic series television director or any type of television director. Maybe theater, but certainly not television. In Season 4, my producer Rob Corn came to me and said, "You should consider directing.” And I said, "OK?” because I didn't know any other acceptable answer to give. Like, why? Or have I ever said anything to you about directing? Just, I said, "OK.” And we were at the end of Season 4. So starting in Season 5, I had to start paying attention to, wait a minute, what is directing? And my director of photography, Herb Davis, gave me this book called “The 5 C’s of Cinematography.” He said, "Learn that and then you'll be ready.” It’s an old school book, but it really is like going back to ballet class and learning first, second, third, fourth, fifth position. The best thing that ever could've happened.
And then I just watched our directors: the ones that did well, but mostly the ones that were failing or hitting a wall. It seemed like they wanted to pull their hair out. What was it that they were doing, and what was it that was missing? And then I shadowed a few of the directors on a couple of other shows.
Season 5 got to be a really heavy season for Bailey storyline-wise, so we ended up pushing off to Season 6. And then my first episode was a Derek Shepherd-centric episode that Shonda said it kind of felt like an independent film, which was cool because he carried the voice-over in that episode, the first I think that it wasn't Meredith. And it kind of gave me the freedom to make that episode whatever I wanted it to be, and it didn't necessarily have to look like “Grey's Anatomy.”
So I did that, and I was like, "Yay, accomplished, cool, done.” And then my executive producer came back to me, and he said, "We need you to do another one,” because one of our directors had to pull out because she got the opportunity to shoot a pilot. That time, I did say, "Are you sure?" He said, "Of course.” And I said, "Why?” And he said, "Because you're good at it.”
Ever since then, it's been two a season, except for COVID year. One in the fall, one in the spring.
Do you try to pick ones where Bailey doesn't have as much in the episode?
That sucks. I'm always impressed when a star of a show or a star of a movie is also the director, because it's a lot.
What do you find that you get out of directing creatively?
I don't get to pick. We all get assigned the number. And then as the episode comes up, you find out. And in the beginning, the writers used to be kind and considerate to the fact that I was directing, and now, no. I mean, now, I'm just all in the episode, like officiating weddings.
I'm like, "How am I going to officiate the wedding if I'm directing?" "Yeah, you’re gonna officiate the wedding.” Like, Kevin McKidd episodes, he's always really heavy in his episodes. So no, they don't pay any attention to that no more.
I can't imagine, I still can't. Even though I do it, I still can't imagine. Maybe it's better with film because you know the beginning, the middle and end. You can rehearse and get it in your head, and you know exactly what it is that you're doing, and you only have to focus on that for however many months you're doing it. Whereas with television, you're on the rotation, and you gotta get in and get out. So actually, I guess it's a really great training ground for whenever the day comes that I finally do that feature – I will have had this. It's like my summer stock training before doing Broadway.
Hmm. So, it really feeds into the anal retentive part of my brain [laughs], and creating the puzzle pieces and making sure that they're all there and they fit together well, so when I get up to editing, it's like, "Yes, I know what that is, I know what these pieces are, I know how they flow together." Series television doesn't give me the same ownership that it would if it was my film, because basically it belongs to the executive producer, and my job is to make sure that the executive producer has what they need in order to create their show. But it means everything to me that I have given them all of the pieces that they need, and so when the episode airs, and it's really, really close to my director's cut, I'm like, "Yay! I did it!"
So that's really satisfying to me. I'm certainly an actor's director, but I have the utmost respect for every single individual in the room and what they do, and the recognition that it takes all of us in order to make the thing that everyone sees. And that's just coming from theater, is that same mentality that I have there, and I just carry it forward when it's my turn to wear the director hat.
What do you mean by actor's director? Just the fact that you like working with actors?
I love that your theater background is able to sort of feed into everything that you're doing now.
Similarly to that, back to acting and Bailey, as you said in the beginning, Bailey's changed a lot, and I feel like, as an actor, that must give you so much to work with. How much input do you as actors have in the writing?
Yeah, I love being able to go in and give really specific notes. I love to give notes that are based on action — verbs, I love giving verbs. I love being really specific with a note in order to inspire actors to do a thing a different way or to think of something in a way they hadn't thought of it before so that I can just watch their mind work. That's really fun. As opposed to, "We need you kind of to stand more like this, or turn this way,” or whatever. And then I start any scene with what is the scene about and where's the blocking? So that it's something that an actor's going to be able to do, as opposed to: "Well, I kind of need everybody over here because my cameras are over here.” So it's always about doing the play, and then figuring out where the cameras go in order to see the play.
Yeah, yeah. That's the fun part for me. Because ultimately, if we're not doing that, then we're not doing our jobs. Right? It's supposed to be play. It's supposed to be fun.
Well, the door is open, always, for us to come in and make suggestions and give some ideas, that kind of thing. I usually don't ever walk through that door. I feel like everything that I've been getting, it's my job to then take those words and take that script bible and bring that thing to life and pull that off the page. But in series television, I'm finding that it's kind of my responsibility to carry the past forward, right? So, to make sure that, “OK, Bailey's kind of said this thing back in Season 2, and then now she's saying it again over here,” you know, just to keep that honest.
And I really feel that in reference to her obsessive compulsive disorder, it was never a one-off and she didn't take a miracle pill and it was done. She still has to work with it, right? She still has to stay present, even in recent seasons where after her heart attack episode and she had kind of broke from Ben for a minute, trying to get back on pace, I did have my conversation with Krista Vernoff then about not forgetting about the obsessive compulsive disorder. And that when you go through something like having your body opened so that someone can put their hands on your heart, people constantly talk about [how] there's something so exposed about that, right? That you live with it years later, knowing that that was wide open at some point.
And then she was focusing so much on her physical health that she wasn't taking care of her mental health. And like anyone that takes meds for [their] mental health, they change. You can't stay on the same thing all the time, right? You go to therapy, you talk to your psychiatrist, you have to make changes, and she has done that with her mental health, and it took her a minute to figure that out, right? That the way she is acting was because oh, wait a minute, it was time to check in and change meds. You had gone through this traumatic, physical thing and you had to take care of that. And that brings me great joy, to be able to portray someone who is living with and continuing to be functional with, as opposed to saying, "Oh, wait a minute, you have a diagnosis? Okay, well then, now your life is over."
No, no. You can be functional and you can do all of the things that you want to do in life. You just have a different monitor up now, right? And you have to pay attention. And if Bailey can help lead that charge, to teach people how you have to pay attention, then that's great. That is an amazing contribution that this character would've been able to make.
You mentioned connecting all of those dots throughout the seasons, and I feel like that's something “Grey's” has always done so well. When something traumatic happens, whether it's the shooting, or more recently, COVID, that's going to affect people for the rest of their lives.
Without giving too much away, where does the new season start, and on that note of incorporating the real world, are there certain issues or certain events that the writers are bringing in this season?
These kids. I mean, they are kids compared to Bailey and Meredith.
You mentioned wanting to maybe direct a feature. What other ambitions or career goals do you have? What are some things that you want to do in the future?
It absolutely does. Bailey talked about it a lot last season, about when doctors were leaving and just going through the physician shortage like all of the hospitals across the country, across the world were doing, that people's priorities changed. And to be able to shine a light on that, because it's so human. And it gives validation, I think, to our audience when they watch and they go, "Oh wow, they're saying what I'm thinking." That really makes our audiences feel seen and heard. And we had a huge responsibility to do that when the pandemic first started, to be a place where our audiences could see a different truth than what they may have been seeing on their local news, or hearing from the president at the time. And it gave validity to their experience, to our healthcare workers and to families who were losing people at the time. So again, that was another honor that our show had to be able to give voice and give people something to point to, to say, "That was me, that's what I did, that happened to my family." And we take that honor very seriously.
Of course they are! Right from the first episode, yes. You will see days, events, reflected in the life of our “Grey's” characters. Everything comes through the hospital, just everything does. That's just the environment that we live in. Whatever is going on in the world is going to come through the hospital. And so we get to see that, not only through the lens of characters that you know, but this whole section of new interns that we have coming in, which, you know, we've done this sort of rotation several times over the years. We bring in new characters because there's always the opportunity to have that fresh blood and that fresh perspective come through, and you see how wide-eyed someone is. But each character is coming through with their history. And maybe that's something a little different this time than in past classes that have come in. Sometimes, our classes come in, and we're kind of building the history as we go. All of these kids, they have history already that we get to tap into from the very beginning.
Kids. "Oh, these kids,” you know? [laughs]
I guess so, I guess so. I know. I have to own up to that, I guess.
Wow. Look at you with the big question. OK, so, again, like I was saying, the interesting thing about “Grey's” is that our first contract, it was a six-year contract. So now it's Season 19, and I'm more determined than ever to be a starter and a finisher, right?
But at some point, at some time, whenever this journey will come to an end, I'm really committed to the value of this product that we have, right? So as a result of that, somebody asked me about Broadway a couple of days ago, “Do I miss it?” And what I said to him was, "I don't miss it because I know it's there, and it's not going anywhere." And when I can fit it in or when this journey finishes, I know it's going to be there, I'm going to be excited for it, and it's going to be exactly the show, exactly the thing, exactly the role that is meant for me. It's going to be waiting. And I feel that it's the same way when I finally do do my feature, that it's going to be the thing that has been waiting for me to come and do it.
I don't know what it is yet. I've been doing some reading and some studying and there are women in our history that are becoming really important to me, especially at a time when books are being taken away and education is being stifled and our country has to figure out who we are collectively so that we can move forward collectively. I want to be a part of that moving forward. I want to be in that number where I'm a safe place for viewers to come and be with and experience and laugh with and cry with and trust my story, because they've been able to trust me because of Miranda Bailey. So all of that stuff that's kind of coming to fruition.
I'm personally riding the waves like everybody else in the country is, right? We're all redefining who we are and what's important and what we want to say and what we want to step back from and what we want to lean into. And I am as excited as I am nervous about what those possibilities are. But excited because whatever I do find out, then I'm able to pull people along with me, pull the next generation of actors and directors, and my kids, and anybody that has any reverence for Miranda Bailey, or me thereby, pull everybody along with this, so we can get to something really nice going forward. So that was a long answer, but I hope that answered your question. [laughs]
It does. I'm excited. Of course, I want you to finish “Grey's,” whenever that happens. But I would love to see you do theater again, or whatever film you end up directing. I'm sure it'll be amazing.
I'm sure, yes. Before I let you go, is there anything else you wanted to say that I didn't ask you about?
That's what I'm saying, because I know it's there, right? And I know that it's ready for me to put my teeth in it. What I used to pay attention to was Phylicia Rashad. When “The Cosby Show” was on, and you were watching Phylicia on “The Cosby Show,” that's all. It was like, Clair Huxtable, that's it. And then when that show ended, she went on and reinvented herself, I don't know how many times, right? Got her Tonys for Broadway, done other theater, done amazing films, working at the university, this whole other life has taken off. And that's why I'm like, I don't even know what it is, but whatever it is, I'll be ready to step into whatever that is. And it'll be just glorious, I'm sure.
Oh my. The level of gratitude that our show has for our audiences and for those that are on their fifth Netflix rotation of all of the seasons — I used to worry about our audiences a little bit: Don't you have something else that you want to do? Something outside? [Laughs] But that's OK. I mean, it's a big compliment to us that people care about the stories, that people escape into the stories mostly, and continue to enjoy going on these journeys. And even when they step away for a minute and then tap back in, you know, treat us like soaps, and tap back in — I mean, all of that is so cool to us. We honestly, truly enjoy what we're doing. I 100% enjoy what I'm doing. I'm crazy about Miranda Bailey, and I love bringing her forward and giving her life. So we will continue to do that until they tell us to stop. But yes, we try to stay relevant, and we try to stay current without preaching and beating people over the head — unless you need it. But mostly, just come to us to be entertained and to escape and to have a good time.
October 6, 2022