Robert I. Mesa, who made his debut on “Grey’s Anatomy” in the third episode of this season, playing intern James Chee, has been bumped up to be a recurring cast member on the ABC medical drama. Chee is the first indigenous doctor on “Grey’s Anatomy” in its 17 seasons, and he will next appear in the episode airing on April 15.
Chee was introduced as part of the new class of interns at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, who are embarking on their careers as doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his first episode, Chee was hazed by neurosurgeon Tom Koracick (Greg Germann), and forced to do data entry — only to discover that the reason it wasn’t working was that all of the patients had died of COVID. He will be featured in several more episodes this season.
The April 15 episode will continue to take on timely events, according to its logline: Maggie (Kelly McCreary) will “treat a patient wounded in the Seattle protests,” while other doctors struggle to help a COVID denier (who presumably has COVID).
Mesa is a Navajo/Soboba actor. In early 2020, he performed in Mary Kathryn Nagle’s “Manhatta,” the first Yale Repertory Theatre production of a play written by a Native playwright. His television credits include playing Tecumseh in the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced “The Men Who Built America: The Frontiersman” for the History Channel, Robert Rodriguez’s “From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series,” “Gunslingers,” and as Al Momaday in “N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear” on PBS’ American Masters. Mesa is also a visual artist and photographer.
This season of “Grey’s Anatomy” has covered the pandemic from the doctors’ perspectives, and the show’s central character, Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), has been felled by COVID. Meredith has drifted in and out of consciousness, illustrated by sequences on a beach in which she’s been visited by characters who’ve died, such as Derek (Patrick Dempsey), George (T.R. Knight), DeLuca (Giacomo Gianniotti) and her sister, Lexie (Chyler Leigh).
The future of the show itself is in limbo right now, as Pompeo negotiates her contract. Recently, showrunner Krista Vernoff told Variety that she’s planning “for both contingencies” of a season and series finale, and “it’s a source of frustration at this point.”
Mesa is repped by Mitchell & Associates Talent and Citizen Skull Productions/Management.