Station 19 premieres its third season tonight in its new timeslot, leading off the TGIT lineup with a crossover episode with Grey’s Anatomy that has both firefighters and Grey Sloan staffers’ lives at stake following a car that crashed into Joe’s Bar in the season finale.
For Victoria Hughes (Barrett Doss) the situation is extremely emotional. She is still getting over the untimely death of her fiancé Fire Chief Lucas Ripley (Brett Tucker) and now her new, hot “lover,” Grey’s Anatomy doc Jackson Avery (Jesse Williams) is trapped in the bar.
“This new relationship is still so fresh but she has a lot of hopes for it,” Doss tells in this exclusive interview. “She’s very excited about the possibility of a future with Jackson, and so the chance that he could be lost on another call, where she is unable to help him is really shocking and jarring for her, and certainly ups the stakes of the situation. Every call is an emergency, but this one is yet another potential missed opportunity for her to save someone who she has very strong feelings for, who she very well might be falling in love with.”
When Vic expresses her concerns to Andy (Jaina Lee Ortiz), Andy appears to believe that Vic is moving on too fast with a new man. Andy, of course, broke up with both Jack Gibson (Grey Damon) and Ryan Tanner (Alberto Frezza) since the series premiered, and rather than letting herself fall to pieces, Andy has taken the stiff upper lip approach. That could be why, it is taking her so long to move on.
“There’s so many ways that people experience grief and loss of all kinds,” Doss continues. “What’s so interesting about this episode, and even this season for Vic, is we really get to see her processing how she’s experiencing her grief and how other people are experiencing her grief. It’s been such an interesting experience for me, as the actress playing this role, to see how the fans have responded to Vic’s moving on with Jackson and should she still be grieving Ripley? I think what’s so great about the way we’re dealing with this, and the question that we’re asking with Vic’s experiences this season is: Is there a right way to grieve? I don’t think there is. I think that it’s completely personal and we’re getting, in this case, one woman’s experience and the consequences of that, because I think she questions that herself sometimes.”
Because of Vic’s relationship with Jackson, she more than any other Station 19 cast member, appears the most often on Grey’s Anatomy, which requires some juggling on her part. Luckily, even though both shows aren’t filming on the same lot, they are both in Hollywood.
“It’s been a funny experience because we started shooting at the same time, and so essentially both Jesse and I — and Jason George and Chandra Wilson when she appears on Station 19 — were working on two different timelines and had to track where we were in all of our life stories, so it’s been a challenge, but it’s also been a really fun opportunity to challenge my memory and go back and really feel like I’ve gotten in touch with who this character is.”
Now that you’ve played Vic for a while what do you admire about her?
Something I love about Vic is her relentless desire to be happy. She works in an environment where it’s very easy to go dark, and certainly with the loss of Ripley, she’s had to figure out how she balances that. Something else that I love about her is that she lives in the moment. For some people that might seem flaky, it might seem unsentimental, but I think that she’s a person who loves deeply and isn’t afraid to show it, and as a result of that, sometimes I think people judge her unfairly. But I think that it’s mostly about her being a person who needs to live in the moment because she might not get another one. Of course, not all of the characters on our show feel like that, but it’s something that I love about Vic and I think it’s certainly unique to her.
Station 19 requires a lot of physical action. Were you athletic growing up? Is that something that you enjoy?
Yes, I was. I played multiple sports competitively. My mom was a professional basketball player, so I grew up playing basketball. I was a competitive swimmer for eight years, and I played soccer and volleyball. I was really into sports, so it’s been so much fun over the past few years to get the opportunity to really use some of those skills at work, and I’m super competitive. As a result, getting into our gear, I’ve always been the fastest, and everybody knows that I’m really serious about it, and everyone makes fun of me.
Having done a little bit of training for the role, do you think that you could be a firefighter for real?
No. I don’t think I could. Physically yes, I think I could do the job, but I think there are qualities that the firefighters we actually get to work with every day on the show have that are so unique to them, and require so much sacrifice, and I admire so much, but it’s unbelievably challenging, emotionally and physically. I feel so honored to get a chance to work with them every day and to talk with them about their experiences, but the level of loss and trauma that they deal with on a daily basis is just unbelievable. It takes a very special kind of person to be able to do that job and do it well, as all of them do. I don’t know if I’m cut out for it.
When I spoke to Danielle Savre (Maya Bishop) last season, she told me her sister actually is a firefighter. Have you met her?
Yeah. Stephanie’s been on set with us before. We’ve met many times because Danielle and I are really close, so we’ve spent a lot of time together. I admire Stephanie so much. It’s such an awesome, convenient reality that she’s Danielle’s sister, so whenever we get stuck, especially as a female firefighter, to get the opportunity to talk to women firefighters about how they deal with the day ins and day outs of being a woman in the fire service.
You’ve talked about how Vic wants to be happy, but does she have the same kind of aspirations as Andy and Maya, who are constantly talking about moving up the ladder?
I don’t think so. I don’t think Vic really experiences ambition in the same way that Andy and Maya do. I think her biggest concern is helping people, and as we learn more about Vic and her backstory this season, it explains, in a lot of ways, why she doesn’t really feel the need to move up the ladder. Her biggest concern is being of support to her community and the people in it. I’m excited for people to get to see that part of her.
In season one, one of the big events was sliding down the pole. How fun was that?
It’s so fun. The pole is great. We do it whenever we can, but, of course, usually, they have to have our stunt coordinator there to make sure we don’t hurt ourselves, but everybody loves sliding down the pole. We get really creative with it, and again, of course, most of us in the cast have played sports of some kind and at a pretty high level, so we all get pretty competitive. Everyone’s seeing how many twists they can do when they come down the pole, and if they can do it with one hand and one leg. I don’t know if Steve [M. Davison], our stunt coordinator, is very happy with us, but we have a really good time.
Have you heard if applications for women firefighters have increased since this show went on the air?
I haven’t heard any actual statistics, but what I do know is that we have gotten fan feedback from young women who have taken their exams and are pursuing careers in the paramedic service or fire service as a result of watching the show. I’ve talked to Danielle a lot about this, actually. We are so thrilled that that is happening. I hope that that’s true because something we talked about during the second season was that the number of female firefighters in Seattle had been declining, but we’re hoping that seeing some positive role models, seeing women who can get out there, kick-ass, and do their jobs well despite their emotional and personal lives, I hope that young women see that and consider a career in it, because I think that women provide a really amazing addition to the fire service. I think we can do some stuff that men can’t.
Station 19 premieres its third season tonight at 8 p.m. ET/PT on ABC.