I was invited on an all expenses paid trip to cover #DisneysNutcrackerEvent and #Station19.
Station 19 is a new spinoff from Grey’s Anatomy and the series follows the first responders. It is currently in its second season (watch on ABC Thursdays at 9|8c!). I had the chance to go on set to interview the Showrunner and Executive Producer Stacy Mckee as well as actors Jaina Lee Ortiz (“Andy Herrera”) and Boris Kodjoe (“Captain Robert Sullivan”). Stacy is inspiring to talk to, Jaina is super sweet and very cute in person, and yes, Boris is even more dreamy in real life than you can imagine. Swoon. Also a very nice guy.
Stacy McKee told explained to us that she worked on Grey’s Anatomy for 13 years and was very excited to be able to tell the stories of the first responders whose lives and characters were only in the background on Grey’s Anatomy. She said: “Especially right now, this day and age, I feel like the world can be tough. There’s a lot of difficulties when you wake up every morning, you open up your news, there’s stuff that’s hard. And to focus on a group of people whose only job is to help other people. Doesn’t matter who you are, doesn’t matter what color you are, what your religion is, doesn’t matter what your politics are. It doesn’t matter. All that matters is that if you are a person who needs help, these characters will help you. And to me, that was just remarkable. I wanted to put that little piece of joy out into the world. It’s so unifying and universal. And it seems like this was the right moment to tell stories like these.”
Stacy also told us how she “geeks out” over every episode and writes what she would want to watch. She then shared with us how Jaina Lee Ortiz was the first person cast on the show. To which Jaina replied: “I signed onto the show the second I heard Shonda Rhimes is doing a spin-off, I said yes, I don’t care what it is, just put me in. I found out it was about firefighters, I went and met 2 female captains and I was like Oh my gosh, these ladies are bad-ass and they could do everything. They could be moms and work and still have a life and balance. And it’s been a dream, it’s… Pinch me!”
She also shared with us how she took the firefighter test. “Dragging a dummy that was 165 lbs, it’s hard, it’s really hard. But being on the show has forced me to kind of stay in shape just in case she throws a sexy nude scene at us.”
Boris who just joined the show told us he had to wait a little longer to get his role. “Well, I wanted to be a part of the show from the first episode as well. And unfortunately, that didn’t happen. So I had to wait patiently in the wings until it was possible. And Code Black was canceled on a Friday and I think I met with Stacy on a Monday and it was pretty much done Monday night.”
Boris shared with us how much he enjoys working with Stacy: “I love great writers and to sort of put myself in the hands of someone like Stacy is an absolute pleasure and honor really.”
Stacy shared how excited she is to delve deeper into the characters. She said: “This season, we’ve earned the right to really explore who these characters are. We get to learn about their past, we get to see their interactions with one another, the relationships that have formed prior to the show starting and then after. I feel like we just barely scratched the surface in Season 1 and now we get to get into some really good juicy character stuff which is my wheelhouse. It’s the stuff I love so that’s the stuff I’m most excited about really.”
Then we learned a little more about filming from Stacy, for example, that all of the exterior shots are filmed in Seattle, Stacy said: “We went to Seattle, we shot all of those actually there on location. As for the incidents with the fires and stuff, it’s sort of a combination. We have both practical fire that we do a lot on our burn stage. We have a stage that we sort of dedicate to burning things up. But we also then supplement and add a lot of CG fire as well. So it’s both a combination of computer-generated, really crazy fire and then some practical stuff that we can use that’s still safe for everybody to be around.”
Stacy said that the actors wearing the firefighter suits are no joke. “Some of the sweat and the exhaustion that you see on these guys’ faces, oh it’s fully real.”
To which Boris chimed in: “40 pounds of gear with a helmet. It’s the real stuff, even the tanks, even the oxygen tanks on the back. We have fake ones and we have real ones.”
Another little fun fact that Stacy shared with us, she said: “Every story that we tell is inspired by something that we’ve heard from or heard about from a first responder. We have a lot of firefighter consultants and paramedic consultants both in the Los Angeles area and in Seattle because some of the specifics are regional and so we wanted to make sure we could be as authentic as possible. And again, because I always tell a story from a character’s point of view first. When we’re talking to people – I always ask the tough questions, like what was your toughest call? What’s the one you’ve never been able to forget? What’s your most inspiring call? To me, those pieces of the story are more authentic and that’s our wheelhouse, that’s what I want to tell.”
A funny moment from the interview, Boris said: “I’ve gotten a bunch of calls from like the mommies in the neighborhood.” Speaking in reference to them calling to ask him fire safety questions. To which Jaina responded laughing “Of course, the moms are gonna call you. Oh, God.” It gave us all a good laugh.
Jaina shared that sometimes she is too into character and forgets she isn’t actually a firefighter in real life. She told us: “I always get carried away like if I see an incident outside or in the house, I feel like I want to save and rescue. I have to remind myself like, no! My Mom is like “Chill, you play firefighter, you’re not really a firefighter.”
It was so much fun getting to chat with the three of them and get an inside scoop about Station 19.
Jaina and Boris were so nice to take photos with us all individually. It was a real pleasure meeting them both.
We also had the chance to tour a couple of the sets and it was really fun to get to see behind the scenes. Jaina and Boris joined as as we walked around the sets which made it extra fun. Here are the photos I was able to get from that.
Be sure to tune into Station 19 Thursdays at 9|8c on ABC! You can also stream it on the ABC app!