Literally holding a young boy's life in her hands, the episode saw her team up with Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) who guided her through the intense and risky situation. Unable to leave after reaching the hospital, Herrera got a glimpse of what goes down behind the scenes at Grey Sloan and we were finally introduced to one of the stars of the Grey's spin-off.
TV Guide caught up with Jaina Lee Ortiz to speak on Andy's impressive Grey Sloan visit including her relationship with Meredith and how this memorable experience will carry over to Station 19.
Our introduction to Andy is literally her holding a kid's heart in her hand. What do you think that first scene says about her character?
Jaina Lee Ortiz: I think that first scene really defines Andy's bravery and her badassery. She is this fearless warrior and she takes after her dad. She's a natural born leader and she is ready to do whatever it takes, risk her life, so that everyone else can be [OK].
Since we're meeting her in this Grey's episode before she takes the reigns on Station 19, how is this Andy different from the one we'll get to know in a few weeks?
Ortiz: I think in the Grey's episode, you get to see her passion and her heroic disposition. But in Station 19, you get to pull back some layers and really see her personality. You get to see a more personal side of her.
She and Meredith didn't know each other beforehand but there is an immediate bond and trust between them in this episode. What do you attribute that to?
Ortiz: I think they have similar backgrounds in how they were raised, their family situations. They both have the same drive, the same work ethic. I think they both want to be the best and are all about succeeding and being successful and being independent and putting work first. I admire that about the both of them.
In the Station 19 trailer, Meredith drops by the firehouse, so how will their relationship evolve moving forward? Are we going to see even more Meredith/Andy interactions down the line?
Ortiz: Andy and Meredith have this connection. The experience that they go through [in this episode] carries over into the pilot in Sation 19 and you get to see a very intimate side of Andy that Meredith has already experienced. She's already been there, done that. It's almost like there's this sister bond that they have three blocks away from each other. They just get it. They understand each other.
Let's talk about that scene where Meredith asks Andy to clamp the child's aorta and she's hesitant at first but then Meredith coaches her through it. What do you think Andy learned about herself in that moment?
Ortiz: I think she definitely learned to trust herself. Being in a hospital is not what she's used to. She's very much familiar with how to handle that sort of situation on the scene and then [the patient gets] dropped off at the hospital and she's done after that. And in this situation, she literally had to hold his life in her hand, has no idea what to do. Meredith was there to say, "Trust me, I'm the expert and you got this." I think Andy learns that she's not perfect. She's got so much more to learn. And sometimes, you have to trust complete strangers [and wish for] a miracle.
Like you said, firefighters usually hand the victim off and leave, but Andy is physically unable to do that at first. However, she sticks around even after her part is over. Why does she stay?
Ortiz: She sort of eavesdropped on this conversation that Meredith has and, just to keep her mind off the fact that she's one inch away from killing this little boy, she gets involved in this contest that ends up being a big surprise for Meredith. At the end of the day, it's almost like they can thank each other because they were brought into each other's lives at that very moment for a very special reason and they don't realize it until [the end of the episode].
She and Ben have a deep conversation about his time as a doctor and she seems impressed that he walked away to become a firefighter. How does this conversation affect their dynamic moving forward?
Ortiz: Andy just finds being a doctor fascinating in the sense that they get to operate on humans and make an insane amount of money. The fact that [Ben] walked away from that is bananas and so, I think she has a deeper respect for him. Moving forward, I think that she'll give him a tough time because he's the new guy and every new recruit has to go through this difficult stage of earning your way and paying your dues before moving up the ranks. But I feel like this experience will bond Andy and [Ben] in a way that she doesn't have with the other firefighters.
Ben and Andy are last seen hitching a ride on a rig, sort of signaling a handoff to Station 19. What did that final shot of them mean to you?
Ortiz: For me, I think that was very emotional because it was the very last scene of [Ben] leaving Grey Sloan Memorial. That was the last scene of him as one of the regulars on Grey's. It was emotional because it's like sharing this likeness of a family with friends and co-workers that become your family and having to say goodbye, not knowing when you're going to see them again. Especially being a firefighter and having to be in this risky job so it's sad but it's exciting.
You're the first Latina lead of a Shonda show. How exciting is that for you and is there anything specific you'd like to showcase with this new platform?
Ortiz: What's exciting is...I am second generation Puerto Rican. Basically, I never spoke Spanish growing up. I'm like the typical New Yorican. So in this episode of Grey's, I speak Spanish for the first time on screen and I think that viewers will love that because I'm this representation of what's lacking in TV right now. I'm super excited about it and I'm so happy that it's another opportunity for me to show people who [are from where I'm] from or look like me that there are chances and opportunities in this industry.
Unlike Olivia on Scandal or Annalise on Murder where we met them in positions of power, Andy is coming into her own in Station 19. What do you think that evolution is going to be like for her?
Ortiz: I think Andy's evolution will be full of flaws and messy and dangerous yet exciting and packed --literally. I think there is so much to look forward to and there are so many layers to pull back. You get to see her evolve and grow into this powerful, fierce woman just like Olivia and Annalise.
Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8/7c on ABC. Meanwhile, Station 19 arrives Thursday, March 22 at 9/8c.