In this week’s Grey’s Anatomy (8/7c, ABC), Stephanie finds herself on the outside looking in when her new MS-afflicted musician BF Kyle (Wilmer Valderrama) is re-admitted with a worrisome new tremor — and she’s barred from participating in his care. Why is she prevented from playing actual doctor with him? And how does she react?
In the following Q&A, Steph’s portrayer Jerrika Hinton previews this week’s “excruciating” turn of events, while also setting the record straight about her character’s own long-term prognosis in light of a certain high-profile pilot deal.
TVLINE | When you factor in time jumps, it’s been quite some time since Stephanie had a real love interest. What was it about Kyle that convinced her to take the plunge?
They had that moment after his surgery where, in his cocky way, he was talking about their similarities. There’s something [nice] about being with a person who sees you for you, and all that you are capable of. And I think that one conversation they had went a long way. Also, they met in the hospital but he’s not in the hospital. [Laughs] There’s enough separation there for her to feel a little more comfortable and not have to suffer the same fate as her last relationship did.
TVLINE | They seemed to go from flirting to coupledom pretty fast…
I think it took a while for them to go from flirting to coupledom. They texted back and forth for a while [before they had] some physical fun. And physical fun doesn’t always have to mean you’re coupled up. [Laughs] A nice pants-off dance-off doesn’t mean that there’s 100 percent commitment on the table. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Does she freak out when he develops this tremor?
She defaults to the thing that she knows. And the thing that she knows is that kind of stubborn/hardheaded/get-it-done nature. She knows his case. Once they get a little more information she has a pretty good idea what the prognosis should be. And so she fights for that. That’s what makes her good at her job. And that ends up getting her in a ton of trouble with her superiors.
TVLINE | ABC released a photo from the episode (see above) that shows Stephanie angrily staring through glass doors after she’s blocked from participating in his care. What is that like for her?
Excruciating. That is the worst thing you can do. Worse than leaving your girlfriend in a barn as you run off with your ex-girlfriend. [Laughs] Like I said, she’s good at her job and she’s trying to keep the professional and the personal separate. She learned that lesson the hard way [with Jackson]. So even though she has a personal relationship with him, she’s really doing her best to make sure that everything she advocates for is 100 percent about the medicine. And it’s up for debate whether or not she succeeds.
TVLINE | Grey’s fans know you are starring in Shonda Rhimes’ ABC comedy pilot Toast, so they’re a little on edge wondering if a bus is about to run over Stephanie…
We’ve already done that death. We’re not going to do that one again. [Laughs]
TVLINE | Without spoiling anything, is Stephanie’s storyline coming to some kind of conclusion in these final episodes of Season 12?
Definitely not. I feel very confident that there’s more ground to explore next season.