The following story contains spoilers from Thursday’s Grey’s Anatomy. Proceed at your own peril
No one can accuse Jerrika Hinton of not fighting on behalf of her character.
When the Grey’s Anatomy actress read the script for this week’s episode and discovered that Stephanie was not only going to dump her MS-afflicted boyfriend Kyle (Wilmer Valderrama), but do so via a letter, she was flabbergasted. “I was like, “I’m sorry, what now? She does what?!'” the actress recalls to TVLine with a chuckle. “I immediately got on the phone [with the writers] and said, ‘I’m certain everyone has done their due diligence and explored every potential storyline avenue… but are we 100 percent certain that a Dear John letter is how we want to do it?'”
Hinton eventually got on board with the creative decision after being reminded of Stephanie’s penchant for conflict avoidance. “Stephanie runs away from her feelings,” she concedes. “She does not like to confront the source of anything emotionally gooey. We saw it after the Jackson and April thing, the way she kept avoiding Jackson in the hospital… She’s the kind of person that likes to shut things off. She has these switches inside her and she is more likely in times of discomfort to power that piece of her down. It’s a survival instinct.
“So while Jerrika would never do anything like that,” she adds with a laugh, “I understand the justification for Stephanie doing it.”
In an effort to fully commit to her alter ego’s actions, Hinton put her method-actress hat on and penned the breakup note herself. “Even though we never see [what the letter says on-screen], I needed there to be some tenderness and thoughtfulness to the action itself,” she explains. “So I sat in my living room and figured out what this note said. I think I restarted it, like, 20 times, because how do you do it? It’s a horrible thing. And then I called [the writers] back and was like, ‘Do you know if you actually start to write this you actually can’t do it?” [Laughs] But I finally came up with a version that satisfied me.
“All that work for something we never see,” she sighs. “But, personally, I needed to know what it said.”