Dick Wolf’s “Chicago” franchise is about to get some competition in Seattle when “Grey’s Anatomy” spins off “Station 19.”
Revolving around a team of fire fighters stationed just a few blocks away from the fictional Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, “Station 19” focuses on firefighter Andrea ‘Andy’ Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), who is also the station captain’s daughter, and how she navigates her professional and personal life. Which, this being a Shondaland production, includes a love triangle between her high school sweetheart and her boyfriend, who also happens to be the station’s lieutenant.
One of the station’s rookies is married to “Grey’s” Miranda Bailey (Chandra Wilson) and when the station must bring patients to the Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, Ellen Pompeo, Wilson and other “Grey’s Anatomy” stars are there make occasional cameos.
“Station 19” premieres March 22, and a few days before, ABC hosted a set tour and Q&A. Here’s what we learned from the cast:
1. There are some badass women on “Station 19,” both on screen and behind the scenes
Ortiz is in good company with Barrett Doss and Danielle Savre playing Victoria ‘Vic’ Hughes and Maya Bishop, two strong female leads in a male-dominated profession. The three women are not afraid of running into burning buildings, or standing up for themselves, especially when they are underestimated.
Doss said she drew from her experience being undervalued as a woman in playing Hughes and enjoyed being able to “hang with the guys.”
“It’s fun to be a part of a show where that experience is valued,” Doss said. “If [creator] Stacy [McKee] writes a character that talks down to one of us, we’re going to be able to clap back. It’s the perfect opportunity to prove those people wrong.”
Ortiz added it’s the first show where she has had all female bosses, including McKee, who worked on all 13 seasons of “Grey’s Anatomy.” It’s also the first time she has worked with a female camera operator.
2. The cast did many of their own stunts
From hosing down fires to swinging an ax, the cast members didn’t shy away from getting their hands dirty.
“The 10 year old in me is having a blast with the big kid toys,” said Jason George, who plays Ben Warren. “We’re jumping on ladders, climbing over stuff. Insurance says we can only do so much…”
Doss jumped in, “But we all want to do more.”
Though there was some physical preparation beforehand, a lot of training happened on the job, making for sore muscles at the end of each day, Doss said. Jumping off a building in flames, however, was one stunt the cast wasn’t allowed to perform.
3. Grey’s Anatomy fans and non-fans will get something out of the show
As someone who doesn’t follow “Grey’s Anatomy,” Okieriete Onaodowan, who plays firefighter Dean Miller, said he thinks viewers will still enjoy learning about what goes on in fire fighters lives, personally and on the job.
For lovers of the hospital drama genre, “Station 19” will complete the picture, added Alberto Frezza, who plays police officer Ryan Tanner.
“You get the best of both worlds,” Frezza added. “You get to see what doctors do and how they respond to calls and now you get to see fire fighter and how they live their day to day lives, not only in work environment but also on a personal note.”
Savre said Grey’s fans won’t be disappointed; or the most part, “Station 19” follows the “Shondaland method.”
“There’s drama every turn there’s love triangles, the cliffhangers,” she said. “How each episode is kind of a lesson, it starts off with a problem and at the end, Jaina’s character Andy has an answer to that problem.
4. The show moves quickly
If you look away, you might miss something. Miguel Sandoval, who plays captain Pruitt Herrera, said the show’s quick pace speaks to McKee’s writing abilities.
“Oftentimes I see shows [that] take time to reveal whats going to happen,” Sandoval said. “You can go to the refrigerator, make a snack, come back and you won’t miss anything. Not with this show.”
5. The characters are three dimensional in more ways than one
The fact that the lead character of “Station 19” is from a largely underrepresented community is an added bonus to an already diverse cast Ortiz said.
Ortiz grew up speaking English, and though her character’s fluency in Spanish was a bit difficult; found speaking Spanish on the show uncomfortable, she felt it was a way for her to pay respect to her culture and shine a light on the Latino community.
Sandoval called the casting crew “colorblind,” because they cast for talent that will push their stories forward.
“They were looking for a kick-ass person to come in and play the part of Andy,” Sandoval said. “I think they found her and then they decided her last name was Herrera. That is a completely organic way to do it.”