It’s always the quiet ones. Dismissed as too mousy to be a leader by the other residents, April Kemper won the coveted Chief Resident position on the season finale of “Grey’s Anatomy.” Granted, most of the other candidates made mistakes that took them out of the running, but the safe money was on one of the show’s original residents getting the job. The show is called “Grey’s Anatomy,” after all. It’s a big vote of confidence for a character who was originally viewed as an interloper by both the other characters and the show’s viewers. Sarah Drew reveals when she found out about the surprise twist, how being the boss will change Abby’s relationships with the other doctors, and why she loves playing television’s oldest virgin.
When did you find out that April was going to be the new Chief Resident?
I didn’t find out until we got the script. I think they did give us a script ahead of time for the finale, which never happens. Usually we just get it on the day that we read it out loud and it’s always a cold reading. But it was really, really fun to read that. I was like, “Yes! I’m coming back next year.”
Did you have an inkling that it was a possibility?
No. I did not think that was going to happen. There were hints: when Stark (Peter MacNichol) recommended me for the position, and then Owen (Kevin McKidd) said, “Looks like April may be a dark horse.” But I was like, “Surely they’re going to choose one of the original folks who have been there since the beginning of the show because that’s what all the fans want.”
Did the writers tell you why they selected April to be Chief Resident?
I actually haven’t talked to any of them at all about it. I don’t know why they made that decision. It would be easier to make Meredith (Ellen Pompeo) Chief Resident because everybody really likes her and respects her. But they never want to go for the easy thing on this show because then there isn’t any drama. I think they’re hoping to shock some people and create conflict.
April’s the sort of diligent team player who would get the job in real life.
Absolutely! I have been thinking from the beginning that she should, in the real world, be Chief Resident. There is nobody that’s better for the job. She is really good at what she does. She works incredibly hard. She follows all the rules, crosses every t, dots every i. She doesn’t have very many friends because but she doesn’t take gigantic risks that threaten the hospital. She has the organizational skills that you need to have but, at the same time, because it’s been such a race this whole season, I’m pretty sure the fans were rooting for one of their original favorites.
Are you prepared for the fan reactions to this twist?
I read some of the fan reactions when I first came on the show. But so many of them were so awful that I was like, “I’m going to stop.” So I don’t really pay attention to that stuff unless someone tells me about it. But it’s interesting. I’ve met a few people over the past week that have been like, “I’m rooting for you. I think that you should be Chief Resident.”
How will April being Chief Resident change the dynamics of her relationships with other characters on the show?
There’s a really funny scene I have with Jackson (Jesse Williams) in the season finale where he’s like, “Wow. Chief freaking Resident. Unbelievable.” I have this whole speech: “I can’t believe people actually like me enough to make me Chief Resident. They hated me for so long.” And he’s like, “Yeah, well don’t get used to it because as soon as you become the Chief everyone’s going to hate you again. People hate having people boss them around, tell them what to do.” I have this look of horror and the realization that with this amazing position that looks really good on my resume is going to create even a greater chasm between me and my peers, which already exists.
What kind of a leader do you think April is going to be?
I think the thing that she’s going to have the hardest time with is wrangling all the staff and getting them to actually listen to her. I think she’s going to be amazing at organizing everything and making sure protocol is being followed. I think she really needs to figure out a way to gain their respect of her peers because she won’t last very long if they don’t respect her.
In the same way that “Glee” sends a positive message to gay teenagers, do you think April’s promotion gives hope to uptight, anal retentive people?
I want her character to send all kinds of hope to the 28 year old virgins out there – which, by the way, there are plenty. We just don’t think there are because nobody in the media has shown those stories. I feel for her in a big way because I have always been a rule follower in my life. I’ve always been a good girl. I never got in trouble, worked my ass off in high school, did everything right, respected those in authority. All that kind of stuff, which seems horribly uncool to the vast majority of the population. But I ended up having a wonderful group of friends who are very similar to me. We had a very good time, even if we were not rebelling all the time.
Speaking of April’s virginity, is her untouched status going to change next season?
The only little tidbit I know is I asked one of our producers, “Is April going to get any action?” He said yes. I don’t know who it’s going to be with, if it’s going to be somebody new. I don’t know if it’s going to be someone we know, if they end up working out. But I’ve also been assured that it’s going to be beautiful and sweet. I don’t know if she’s going to be deflowered next season. That may be even further down the road, since recently I’ve heard from the producers that they find that to be a really interesting thing about her character so they want to play that out as long as possible, which I agree with. I think it’s a really fascinating, fun storyline that not many people tell.
What would be your dream storyline for April next season?
I would love to see her fall in love in a very real, really sweet way that isn’t cheapened by anything. Her coming into her own and seeing herself as a beautiful, sexual being, I think that would be a really fun story to tell. You don’t get to see that in an adult storyline ever. You see it in teenage storylines on television but you don’t see it with someone who is almost thirty.
What has it been like keeping this plot twist a secret?
It’s been kind of fun because I had people constantly coming up to me asking, “Is it you?” I’m like, “I’m not telling you. You’re going to have to watch.” I enjoyed keeping the secret. I felt naughty.