At 5'0", Chandra Wilson is hardly a giant among her peers. At least literally. But give her some authority, throw some blue hospital scrubs on her, and the actress becomes a force to be reckoned with.
An Emmy nominee, as a matter of fact.
In real life, the Houston Chronicle reports, Wilson is married with three children, and a lot less loud and bossy than her Grey's Anatomy character. Dr. Miranda Bailey.
"The Nazi" is what Bailey was referred to in the show's pilot episode, when creator Shonda Rhimes wanted a take-no-prisoners character with a don't-you-dare attitude to instruct the impressionable interns.
"It's a teacher's mentality. The pilot described me as the Nazi, so I had to think about that and try to relate. It's about my demeanor, how I carry myself, demanding respect from my students," Chandra said. "Once I have that, I just teach."
The character seems to come easily to Wilson."She's a very familiar woman. I can't say she's a particular person, but everybody seems to know someone that's Dr. Bailey-like," she said. "The biggest compliment I receive is when people say they know that woman. Or when people in the medical profession come up to me and say, 'Yeah, Dr. Bailey, she's on my floor.' I've dealt with people like her. My mom's like her."
Her character has become so popular that Wilson, a Houston native who works in Los Angeles but lives in New York, draws stares from total strangers whenever she takes to the streets.
"Sometimes people think I'm Dr. Bailey, but they're not sure, because my demeanor is different or because 'she's too short,'" Wilson said. "I get away with walking around town. I'm still able to have a life."
It's hardly a normal one.
Away from her husband, two daughters and 1-year-old son (Wilson's Season 2 pregnancy was written into the script as Bailey also gave birth to a son) she spends 14- and 15-hour days on the set. But there are perks. The Emmy nomination, for one.
"I was very flattered to be nominated. I'm still trying to figure out what it means. It's a fantastic representation. I embrace that, that there's someone sitting at home who says, 'If she can do it, I need to get up and do my business like I'm supposed to.' There's no excuse for not doing the things you want to do in life," Wilson said.
The Emmys will air Sunday, August 27. Wilson and co-star Sandra Oh are both up for Best Supporting Actress in a Drama Series, and Grey's Anatomy reeled in nine other nominations to boot.