Earlier this month, season 11 of Grey’s Anatomy wrapped, leaving viewers in a glass case of emotion. The Internet probably told you what happened to Dr. McDreamy, too. In light of everything, Grey’s Anatomy has brought actress Jerrika Hinton into the fold as Dr. Stephanie Edwards, who says killing off Dr. Derek Shepherd (played by Patrick Dempsey) this season (which showed events occurring a year ahead) and saying goodbye to Dr. Cristina Yang (Sandra Oh) in Season 10 were both tough L’s to deal with.
“I think it involves a lot of re-calibrating. You mourn the loss and unfortunately in both of those cases, internally as a family, we knew it was going to happen, and we got to have our grieving process with the people while they were there,” Hinton tells VIBE. “Once huge members of your family leave, you celebrate them when you can while they’re there and it’s less about feeling whole. It’s more about how do we continue to move along as a family.”
“Once huge members of your family leave, you celebrate them when you can while they’re there…”
Besides bidding farewell to fan favorites, Dr. Edwards has been making her mark at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, especially after having to perform surgery to remove Dr. Nicole Herman’s (played by guest star Geena Davis) brain tumor, one of the more complex moments for Hinton as both the character and an actress.
“From an acting perspective, I utilized our medical researcher, Barbara Friend, and she gave me mounds of research because I was like, ‘If I’m going to be sitting here narrating this surgery, I kind of want to know what I’m talking about as much as possible,’” she says. “I keep little notebooks on the major surgeries that my character has to be involved in. I do my own set of research and keep notes on all of that kind stuff. I like the learning part.”
Hinton’s had her fair share of drama on the syndicated hit penned by the mastermind behind Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder, Shonda Rhimes. In the season 11 finale, Hinton explained that the high stakes of saving a patient who had a child, after she and her husband were involved in a traumatizing car accident, can become quite overwhelming on the small screen and off.
“Everything is moving so fast and so rapidly and you’re spitting out all of this medical stuff and there’s no time and you’re frustrated with this person over here and then you slice and then it’s like ‘And cut! Ok, is everyone fine?’” Hinton recalls of shooting the scene.
Being able to absorb medical jargon with high-pressure scenes makes Hinton all the more proud of her character’s growth since Dr. Edwards arrived in season nine. “She has come into her power, in a way. A lot of season 10 was her healing her heart and she’s moved on from that, and become a more important part of the work environment and especially with the time jump ahead,” she explains. “Now, you get to see her as chief resident. You get to see her following in the footsteps of a huge Grey tradition. That’s a huge honor to become a part of that tradition and not only that, but to flip it and make it individually yours. She’s coming up with her own thing.”
As her character experiences growth, so does Hinton as an actress. She says that both she and Dr. Edwards share some similarities in that they are both ambitious, but in different ways.
“We’re both hard workers who prize intelligence. I think I value vulnerability more than she does,” Hinton says, adding that finding the contradictions make her job more fun. “I think Stephanie considers vulnerability more as a weakness than a strength and it’s nice to track those differences. In terms of ambition, I think Stephanie is just more comfortable in the hardness of life and factual things and feelings are things to be fixed not felt, whereas I like to live in the opposite like, ‘Let’s feel our feelings and let’s hold hands’.”
In the coming season 12, Hinton explains that you’ll most likely see Stephanie boss up, dealing with a new set of interns and seeing who can handle the pressure in O.R. In the romance department, Hinton entertains the fan-made theory of a possible love interest in the works between Stephanie and one of her interns. “It’s a gift when [fans] can trust you with a journey,” Hinton says about her character.
When outside of her scrubs, Hinton tackles her own project, an indie feature called Solace that she is executive producing. “It’s based on a film that [director Tchaiko Omawale] made five years ago, which I saw at a festival and immediately fell in love with,” Hintons says of the flick. “We start filming in June and it’s the story of this young girl who is sent to live with her estranged family after her father passes away and being young, she doesn’t really know how to process the grief. All she knows is that she just wants to get her life back on track, but until she looks at all of these things that have happened, she can’t quite do that, so she develops these unhealthy coping mechanisms.”
After closing a play, dabbling in photography, acting on Grey’s Anatomy and putting in work on an indie film, Hinton’s loaded itinerary simply comes from a desire to get stronger at her craft. “Learning to be bolder has been a challenge and a good one, I think, utilizing your resources and not being afraid,” she says. “I’ve always been drawn to different artistic outlets, even when I was doing theatre as a kid. I was writing plays, short stories [and] started a theatre company when I was in high school. I’ve never done just one thing, I’ve never been able to. I just like to know all pieces of the puzzle because it just makes you a better artist.”—Yvette Brown
Photo Credit: Evan Duning Photography