Q & A With Sara Ramirez
For years, Sara Ramirez was the actress whom Broadway insiders consistently pegged for breakout success. She found that success, winning a Tony Award for her role as the Lady in the Lake in Spamalot.
Then she found it again, joining the cast of Grey's Anatomy (which begins its much-anticipated Season 3 Thursday) as orthopedic surgeon Dr. Callie Torres, love interest of hapless intern George.
After guest starring as Callie last Spring, Sara was promoted to full-time cast member this summer.
Recently, Ramirez spoke to New York Magazine's Jada Yuan about finally living large on TV. Here's the interview:
New York Magazine: They’ve signed you up for the full year, so clearly things are going to work out with George.
Sara Ramirez: I wouldn’t be so sure. I know they’re keeping me around, but I don’t know if it’s for George.
New York Magazine: Were you a fan of the show before you signed on?
Sara Ramirez: Oh, yes! As a Latin person, I was really proud to see the ethnic people on the show. I thought, Wow, there are no color limits. Nobody’s making comments about how there are African-Americans on the show and an Asian on the show. However, I did think, Where’s the Latin person?
New York Magazine: A lot of fans hated your character because they wanted George to wind up with Meredith Grey, the show’s lead.
Sara Ramirez: You do run across a lot of people who are extremely invested in that story line. Obviously, I’ve heard some negative stuff.
New York Magazine: You joined the show in the middle of the second season. Did you feel like an outsider?
Sara Ramirez: The weird thing about working in television is that you only see the people that you’re in scenes with. It’s not like you’re all running around the set together. So if you’re going to hang out together, you kind of have to make an effort. And I think people have families, people have lives.
New York Magazine: Were you beginning to think you’d be doing theater forever?
Sara Ramirez: I’d been in New York for about 12 years, working my butt off. I just went where the work was, and because of my voice, that was Broadway. But I’d grown disillusioned with the theater scene. I’m 5'9", and people didn’t know where to put me, a tall Latin woman. They were like, “Well, you can sing really good and you can act okay, but you’re not black and you’re not white. We just don’t know who to cast you as.”
New York Magazine: Was there pressure in going from stage to TV to change your appearance?
Sara Ramirez: Not at all. I actually gained a lot of weight when I started to do Grey’s Anatomy. Doing eight theater shows a week, girl, is such a workout. But with TV, you’re, like, sitting in your trailer waiting to go to the set. And there’s catering and craft service every place you look.
New York Magazine: Between you and America Ferrera on Ugly Betty, there’s a mini-boom for curvier, “real” Latin women.
Sara Ramirez: Absolutely. I’ve spoken to America several times at events about how funny it is that we’re on TV, and how cool it is to represent a group of women who aren’t stick-thin. I know my boyfriend loves to have something to hold onto. There’s a lot of men out there who do.
New York Magazine: Now that you’ve dealt with both, which fans are more rabid, Monty Python fans or Grey’s Anatomy fans?
Sara Ramirez: Monty Python. They show up in costume.