'Grey's Anatomy': Jerrika Hinton on Stephanie's "Devastating Blow" and her Shondaland Future

Grey's Anatomy Jerrika Hinton - H 2016
Courtesy of ABC

[Warning: This story contains spoilers from the "You're Gonna Need Someone on Your Side" episode of ABC's Grey's Anatomy.]

That was fast.

After a tedious relationship with Jackson (Jesse Williams), Jerrika Hinton's Stephanie Edwards finally found love again on ABC's Grey's Anatomy — but it was, in typical Shondaland fashion, short-lived.

After musician and MS patient Kyle Diaz (Wilmer Valderrama) took an instant interest in Stephanie, the duo took that flirtation to the next level during last week's episode, but their happiness appears to be fleeting. During Thursday's installment, Stephanie brings Kyle to Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital when he starts to experience a tremor in his other hand. As Stephanie begins to treat him, her mentor Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) removes her from the case, as it has become a clear conflict of interest.

Struggling to accept being forced to watch the surgery, Stephanie ultimately realizes that she's sacrificing her career goals and leaves Kyle, asleep and recovering from surgery, a note that she's breaking up with him.

Here, Hinton talks with THR about Stephanie's decision, her role in Shondaland comedy pilot Toast — in which she's reuniting with Grey's alum Tessa Ferrer — and how she could possibly juggle both shows if the latter is picked up to series.

Stephanie finally has a love interest with Kyle. Why does she break up with him?

It's a week later in viewership time but in their world, it's a couple weeks. She has to let it go and walk away because of the pure reality of the situation: Kyle came to her as a sick person and while they were able to mitigate some of that, the circumstances of his illness mean that he will continue to deteriorate, which means he'll continue to require more care. For a person like Stephanie, she is so driven and so young. This is the logic of a younger person. She doesn't have the capacity to give Kyle what he needs. Even in this week's episode, we see Stephanie try: He's sick and she brings him into the hospital and does the thing she knows how to do — medicine. She tries to do the thing she knows how to do and she's stopped at every turn because her superior says she's too close to this case. "This is personal and you can't keep apart the personal and the professional here, so I'm moving you off this." That's a devastating blow for someone who always thinks that she knows the right way. Granted, she trained under a fantastic mentor [Amelia] and she does know the right way to do things. So to be told, "You are not capable," is devastating. That will continue to be the uphill battle she fights, both in trying to carve out her career aside from Kyle and even more so in the relationship with him. She's not capable of doing both; she just can't. So she chooses her career. Let's also point out that it's not like they've been dating for a year; they've been together for maybe six weeks. She's considering every bit of reality at her disposal. And it's not an easy decision.

Will she regret her decision?

I don't think regret is right the word. She'll continue to be tormented by it. There is guilt there and she's aware that what she's done is callous and cowardly. When she does cross paths with Kyle again, there's definitely some guilt and shame that she's feeling. She doesn't regret her decision by any means but she is human enough to have feelings about it.

Is Kyle's traveling musician storyline part of a larger plan to weave Stephanie in and out of the hospital?

The Kyle storyline came about before Toast was even on the radar. If anything takes her away from the hospital, that won't be the thing. I'm curious to see what that thing will be if there is indeed a thing. Toast hasn't been picked up [to series yet]. So until we know what's going on with that, both Shonda Rhimes and I are intrigued by a world where I could do both. That alone is amazing.

Should Toast go to series, have you talked about a scheduling idea to keep you in both worlds?

My perfect scenario that I've imagined — and we haven't talked about it yet since we don't know if Toast is going — but multicamera comedies are on a completely different schedule than dramas and you have a bit more time. I'm a person who likes to work hard, [who likes] creativity and to be able to live in two completely different worlds and flex two sets of completely different muscles. That sounds like a dream to me, even though it's a very tiring dream and I'd be exhausted at the end of the season, I'm eager to try.

You're reuniting with Tessa Ferrer on Toast. What has that been like? Have you guys talked about what her Grey's character, Leah, would be doing now?

According to the fans, Stephanie and Leah live together and are possibly dating. I'm down for that and I love that idea! I will allow that to be canon! (Laughs.) I'm so deeply into that idea!

How does the season finale set up a possible departure for Stephanie?

It doesn't, that's what's interesting. The finale shines the light on some other storylines, leaving Stephanie's emotional journey unresolved. There is a world where Stephanie still has a lot of things to process next season so it's not about setting up a departure by any means. We have a lot of other questions on the table before Stephanie and Kyle became a thing and our finale deals with those.

What can you say about the final scene of season 12? Is it a cliffhanger? Is it emotional? Happy?

The final scene of the season has that classic Grey's where we are at an event that's classic Grey's, dealing with some emotions that are classic Grey's and then a twist is thrown in to set things up for next season in classic Grey's fashion.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. on ABC.