When last we left Grey’s Anatomy in December, a gobsmacked Stephanie looked on in horror as her boyfriend (Jackson) proclaimed his undying love to another woman (April) — during said woman’s standing-room-only wedding to another dude (Matthew). The most shocking aspect of that sequence, at least from the vantage point of Steph’s portrayer, Jerrika Hinton, was that her jilted alter ego stuck around to watch the horror show unfold.
“I find it fascinating that she stays there for it and doesn’t just bolt,” the actress tells TVLine. “Anyone’s natural reaction would be, ‘I’m going to get the heck out of Dodge.’ But she stays.”
As Hinton notes, “It’s the worst kind of betrayal. It’s one thing to say, ‘I’ve been harboring these feelings and I thought I dealt with them but I haven’t and I’m actually involving you in this decision.’ But it’s another thing to devastate someone in such a public way in front of people that she has to work with the very next day.
“Something that I kept bringing up when we were shooting the scene was, ‘So, guys, Jackson and Stephanie drove to the wedding together,” she recalls with a laugh. “What’s that car ride home going to be like? Are we thinking about these things? Because I am.”
Tonight’s midseason premiere (9/8c, ABC) picks up mere moments after Jackson’s ceremony-stopping proclamation and, without spoiling the fallout, Hinton says Stephanie and Jackson’s relationship will be forever changed. “Whether or not their romantic relationship continues, there’s no turning back from something like that,” she shares. “Because it is such a betrayal. They like to develop characters through devastation [at Grey’s]. And it’s a great growth moment for her, and that’s something that’s been a real treat to explore. How does somebody put the pieces back together after that?”
For starters, she doesn’t blame The Other Woman. “April didn’t do this,” Hinton insists. “Call it feminist solidarity, but I think Stephanie should have little to no beef with April. All of this is about Stephanie and Jackson not doing enough soul searching on their own.”