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Every time I think we have done everything, we come up with more: Chandra Wilson

The actor, who plays Miranda Bailey on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’, talks about her favourite storylines, Ben and Bailey’s relationship, and directing the landmark episode that made it the longest running medical drama on TV

Like many other television stars (think Matt LeBlanc as Joey Tribbiani or even Ellen Pompeo as Meredith Grey), Chandra Wilson’s name is inextricably linked to Miranda Bailey, the tough-on-the outside, soft-on-the-inside surgeon, for posterity. Known by different names such as The Nazi, Dr. B and more recently, BCB (Booty Call Bailey), the character has gone from being a resident in general surgery to current Chief of Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, while dealing with interns, relationships, OCD, a shooter in the hospital, and a heart attack along the way.

Chandra has been playing the role on the award-winning, critically acclaimed Grey’s Anatomy for the last 16 seasons (the latest season started airing in September in the US) and has won several awards, including the Screen Actors’ Guild, People’s Choice and three NAACP Image Awards, as well as four Emmy Award nominations. She has also directed several episodes of the show since season 6, including the landmark episode that made Grey’s Anatomy the longest-running medical drama on television.

Chandra Wilson spoke over the phone to MetroPlus.

Excerpts:

Over 15 seasons, what have some of your favourite storylines for Miranda Bailey been in terms of an acting challenge or character development? Is there any storyline for your character that you would like to see explored?

For the first question, the pilot episode is always my favourite. That’s the one that basically introduces the kind of person Dr. Bailey is going to be. Acting challenge wise, I really enjoyed the finale of season 6 where the shooter was in the hospital. That was really exciting and challenging for all of us actually to work on that situation.

And, in all these years I have been there, I only requested one storyline. That was season 9 which introduced a character who was suffering from cyclic vomiting syndrome. All the other seasons, I truly left it up to the writers because they truly give me so much. Such interesting stories to tell that I have never had to go in and request these things. So, if it’s not broken, I don’t need to fix it!

We know season 17 is also coming but Ellen Pompeo was quoted some time back as “feeling that we have told the majority of the stories we can tell”. What are your thoughts on that? Do you think there are a lot more story possibilities?

I am always surprised and amazed to see how much story we end up being able to tell! I would have thought way back in season 2 or season 3 that we had told all the stories but we keep coming up with more stories! So, I have learnt that I don’t have the answers for that quite yet. Every time I think we have truly done everything we could do, we come up with more which is really exciting.

What can the audience expect to see in season 16 in terms of Miranda and Ben's relationship?

So, where we left off in season 15, Miranda and Ben have a very solid relationship. And Miranda has learned how to accept Ben’s journey into being a firefighter. That relationship is based on a great deal of respect. Going forward, it’s about Miranda being able to control her anxieties (laughs) about how she feels about his safety but also being able to respect that. It also gives them a chance to be happy too. So, I know they will also continue the journey of being happy as a couple.

How do you feel about the passionate following this relationship has?

It’s really exciting. I think we are a great example of everything isn’t always great but everything isn’t always bad. The whole point is you have a solid relationship. But life will come in and give you some circumstances that you have to work through. Ben and Bailey do the work in order to maintain a relationship.

What was it like to direct the episode that made Grey’s Anatomy the longest running medical drama on TV?

Sure. I was incredibly honoured to be able to do that. I thought the responsibility of that (laughs), to be able to honour our show and honour the character and honour the audiences that have been with us all these years… but mostly just incredibly flattered and I felt excited for our show! Because none of us expected that we would be here as long as we have and have the following that we have.

Lastly, do you have any message for the fans in India?

We appreciate you so much and appreciate you staying with us. Our stories are going to continue to be amazing. Season 16 picks up where season 15 ended. They have just fired [Meredith, Alex and Richard for insurance fraud]. It’s not going to go over very well as far as how everyone and Bailey deals with that!

Season 16 of Grey’s Anatomy is currently streaming on Hotstar Premium

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Printable version | May 28, 2020 5:33:40 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/entertainment/movies/every-time-i-think-we-have-done-everything-we-come-up-with-more-chandra-wilson/article29646575.ece

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