Sarah Drew Opens Up About Grey's Anatomy Exit: "I Don't Regret or Begrudge Anybody"

When news broke that Grey's Anatomy series-regular Sarah Drew would be saying goodbye for good in the May season finale, fans were heartbroken. Though initially worried that the writers would send the trauma surgeon off in a fatally permanent manner (since they do it so painfully well), the season finale saw April getting a happy ending with an impromptu wedding and deciding to do "God's work" by helping the local homeless. While it was nice to see Drew survive her exit, the departure was still a shock to many.

Drew kept relatively mum about her departure following her Twitter statement after the news was announced and the goodbye posts shared on her Instagram. In August, Drew spoke with The Hollywood Reporter for her first interview since leaving the ABC drama. The actress touched on her departure, her future plans, and the Emmy nomination for Grey's Anatomy's short-form series, B-Team, which she directed. See her quotes ahead.


  • On what it's been like since her Grey's departure: "More than anything else, the last few weeks after my final episodes have been a really beautiful rebirth and a really exciting time. I'm running around meeting everybody and talking to producers and talking to heads of casting at all the networks and the studios, and I'm finding that the landscape is so different."
  • On her feelings about being let go: "It was painful when it happened, but in retrospect, I think it would have been hard for me to walk away from that job. I don't regret or begrudge anybody this season of my life. It feels right, and it feels like a good time to move on to something else with all the great love in my heart that I have for everybody and respect and gratitude for what that experience was. I got to tell stories I believed in. I got to work with Shonda Rhimes and Betsy Beers and learn from the best. It's hard for me to come up with anything I could be angry about."
  • On what she's doing now: "I'm reviewing options. I got bit by the directing bug because I produced my first film — Indivisible — during our last hiatus, and it's coming out in theaters on Oct. 26. I'm not only pursuing my career as an actor, but I'm now also walking into this world as a director and as a producer, and the world is so wide open. I haven't officially signed on anywhere, but I've got three or four different potential projects that I'm interested in potentially producing and acting in and maybe directing episodes of."

  • On how she was let go: "I was let go during an episode where I was shadowing Kevin McKidd (Owen Hunt). It was in the afternoon, and I went back to my trailer, and I did my crying and called my people. A whole bunch of people came into my trailer to give me hugs and cry with me and tell me they were so sad I was leaving. I was supposed to be shadowing Kevin this whole episode . . . but it seemed like that wasn't a possibility anymore. My husband was like, "Of course you go." I had this incredible opportunity to grow as a director and as an artist with a director that I respect so much. So that's what I did: I showed up the next morning at 6 a.m. and shadowed Kevin until I got cast [on CBS's Cagney & Lacey]."
  • On the rumors that the show could not afford to keep her and Jessica Capshaw after paying Ellen Pompeo $20 million a year: "I was told that the show had too many characters and that they needed to downsize because they couldn't service all of the characters effectively. Showrunner Krista Vernoff said that she felt like April had been through so much and had come out the other side and that she didn't know what she could put her through again. But Krista had a lot of very complimentary things to say about the work that I had done — especially this past season — and that April was going to have her happy ending."
  • On whether she would guest star on Grey's or the spinoff, Station 19: "Maybe. It would be fun to play in the world of Shondaland. But at the same time, I have said goodbye to April and put her to rest. I would be perfectly happy not being April again. I don't feel a particular urge to play her anytime soon. I love that character."

  • On April's legacy: "So many of April's stories were about resilience in the face of pain and rising above in the midst of sorrow and grief. That's what I want people to remember about her. April's story throughout the whole nine years on the show was a story about someone going through pain and emerging in a more beautiful, more glorified state of hope and of gratitude and of resilience and of strength. That's what I hope people take away from April."
  • On April and Jackson: "In the midst of it, I was devastated that Jackson (Jesse Williams) and April wasn't an end game. I thought Jackson and April were meant to get back together and they were going to get married again and realize they'd been crazy and it was just going to be this long, slow burn."
  • On April's happy ending: "She ran off with Jackson and loved him and wouldn't regret a single second of that relationship because it made her heart grow and she got a beautiful daughter out of it. She grew as a woman and as a person of faith. But there was something beautiful about . . . April and Matthew. She hurt him worse than anybody had ever hurt him by walking away from him [at their wedding]. For there to be reconciliation from that scenario? That's a really beautiful redemption story that there could be forgiveness there. He lost his wife and then finds his first love again. It's lovely."
  • On April and Matthew's love story: "I wish that we had gotten to see more of their journey before they got married. I would've liked to play those scenes, and I would've liked to have told that story in a more full way. I can see the beauty in it. But part of me will always be a little heartbroken that April and Jackson were not end game."

  • On if she knew ABC was submitting the web series for Emmy consideration: "I knew when we started putting the whole series together because there were certain rules we had to follow in order to be eligible for a nomination. I've been submitted as an actor for an Emmy every year, but that didn't mean anything."
  • On her reaction to the Emmy nomination: "It was a bolt of good news. My confidence had gotten a bit shaken in the wake of being let go, and the nomination after the fact made me go, 'I don't need to be worried about anything or have my confidence shaken.'"
  • On what the nomination means to her: "The nomination in the midst of walking out into the world and feeling like I'm engaging in this beautiful rebirth was more affirmation that this is a good space in my life right now, that I don't need to be sad and I don't need to be mourning and I don't need to be in grief over the end of something that was so beautiful. I can just rise from the ashes in a more brilliant way."