Jerrika Hinton on Stephanie’s Shocking ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ Decision, Plus Her Shondaland Comedy Pilot ‘Toast’

Stephanie Kyle Greys Anatomy breakup
Courtesy of ABC

SPOILER ALERT: Do not read ahead, if you have not watched “Grey’s Anatomy” season 12, episode 21, titled “You’re Gonna Need Someone on Your Side,” which aired Thursday, April 28.

When Kyle (Wilmer Valderrama) developed a new tremor and was re-admitted to Grey Sloan Memorial for surgery, Stephanie (Jerrika Hinton) had to learn how to separate her personal and professional life. Kyle, a musician with M.S., engaged in an on-screen romance with Dr. Edwards when he joined the show earlier this season, but in the wake of his most recent medical emergency, Amelia (Caterina Scorsone) told Dr. Edwards that she is too close to scrub in on Kyle’s surgery, leaving the lovesick doc fuming on the outside looking in.

Meanwhile, Amelia and Owen (Kevin McKidd) finally owned up to their fling after being caught naked together asleep on the couch. By the end of the episode, Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) played matchmaker, and encouraged the couple to go ahead and fess up to their feelings for each other.

Also in tonight’s episode, Callie (Sara Ramirez) and Arizona (Jessica Capshaw) divided the hospital, vying for support in their custody battle over their daughter, Sofia. Arizona faced further pressure when she thought she saw something troubling in April’s (Sarah Drew) ultrasound, which turned out to be a fluke, but not before Arizona had a well-deserved breakdown.

However, the episode’s most dramatic moment came after Kyle’s surgery when Stephanie left a breakup note at her sleeping lover’s hospital bedside, ultimately choosing her career over their relationship — but with Kyle far from recovery, Stephanie will have to face the repercussions of her sudden and unceremonious breakup.

What happens next for Stephanie and Kyle? Jerrika Hinton talks to Variety, teasing what’s to come as the season draws near to the finale.

At the end of the episode, you leave Kyle a note to break up with him. This can’t be the end, right?

No. [laughs] Because the reality of the situation is that Kyle is a sick man. We, at Grey Sloan Memorial, are the keepers of his health. They will see each other again. And she broke up with him in one of the worst ways you can break up with a person, and so he’s going to have some strong feelings about that.

Right, the note seems like only a small step up from sending a break up text.

I tried to make it better than a text. Granted, it doesn’t matter because the audience never reads the note. But I personally wrote the note. As it was scripted, it was just she folds the note and puts it in his hand, cries, kisses him on the cheek … And I was like, this can’t be how it goes down, guys. This man just had brain surgery and he’s sleeping. What if he just rolls over and the note falls on the floor? But that’s the story that they were committed to, so my work as an actor, and as the stubborn person that I am, was to make it as thoughtful as possible. So I’m going to write the note, me as Jerrika. Also, can we put it in an envelope?

What did you write?

I think I gave all the copies to our prop department, but the gist of it is “I’m really sorry to do this to you in this way.” Just really taking ownership over how shitty it is. “This is the worst possible time to do this, but these are my reasons.” She’s a woman who is dedicated to her career. And I think it closed with something like “Thank you for everything that we’ve been able to share together. And I wish you so much success on your career and your tour and, again, I’m sorry again.”

You’ve teased before that there is a plot point this season that you questioned. Was this it?

This was it. Yes, this is one hundred percent the moment. Because who does this? I, as Jerrika, would never, ever, ever do anything like this. And that’s great. I love finding ways to differentiate myself from my character. However, I still want her to be written as a living and breathing human being, and not simply engage in things that are just juicy plot devices. If we’re going to engage in juicy plot devices, I still want them to be carefully considered.

There are only a few more episodes left in the season. What happens now?

What happens now is she’s going to have to deal with him again. And by the sheer nature of that, also deal with what she did, which is break up with him in a brutal, callous way. And she will continue to struggle with separating the personal from the professional. His health does not improve. And her superior, Amelia, still believes that Stephanie should be a part of the case. It’s too personal. So going forward we’re going to see how absolutely stubborn she is, but still, I think how right she is. I just hope people don’t sh-t on her too hard for what she does.

You were cast in “Toast,” a new Shondaland show…

…If it gets picked up. We don’t even know if it’s picked up yet.

I mean, it’s Shonda, so chances are…

I mean, why does everyone say that? It’s Shonda’s first comedy. There are so many question marks. There is nothing set in stone.

Sure, but that leads me to my question. Do you know where your arc ends on Grey’s?

It’s still very much in limbo. I will say — even though it is definitely in limbo — there is still a potential story for Stephanie next season. But by the end of May, I’ll have a better idea of what my life will look like. I am a very, very fortunate person, and this is such an unusual situation. I’m so grateful.

Did you wrap shooting the pilot for “Toast?” How did it go?

We shot the pilot a week ago. And that was a lot of fun. I’ve never really done multi-cam comedy before. So I learned that all that requires a different set of muscles. And all the people who said, “Oh, you’re going to love this. It’s going to be like going back to theater. It’s amazing.” All those people are liars. I think it’s like theater for people who have never done theater. But it was really fun.

What should we know about your character on that show?

It’s her wedding. She’s an only child to parents who are well-to-do and deeply opinionated about her husband to be.

To read more about “Toast” — which hails from “Scandal” star Scott Foley — click here.