On the red carpet amid the chaos of Emmys weekend, Sarah Drew stopped and let out a sigh of relief. “I’ve had a year! I’ve had a year, yes,” she said to Vulture. The former Grey’s Anatomy veteran, who was on the series for nine seasons, was let go from the show in March. She’s since been vocal about not being ready to leave. “In a way, you almost feel like you’re attending your own funeral. Weirdly. But in a really beautiful way,” she told us at BAFTA’s pre-Emmys party. Drew explained how the experience, as jarring as it may have been, showed how her absence will affect people. “I think that in being let go, the outcry of support from fans, from my cast, from my crew, was so extraordinary. I talk about it as being love bombed,” she said. “It’s like when you’re let go before something ends and when it’s not your choice, people come up and tell you why they love you and how much they love you and what you meant to them.”
She said that in a way (or several ways), her unexpected exit may be a blessing in disguise. “There’s been so many silver linings,” she told us. A few months after learning the news, for example, she was nominated for an Outstanding Short Form Comedy or Drama Series Emmy for directing the digital series Grey’s Anatomy: B-Team. Now she’s ready to explore.
“Nine years playing one character, it’s a long time! I am so excited to spread my wings and be somebody else for a time,” she said. “I’m so excited to produce more and direct more. I’ve been feeling like actually walking away from the show has been the most excited that I’ve ever been in years!”
But as optimistic as Drew is, one thing she won’t do is peruse the internet for fan theories explaining April Kepner’s departure. “Oh, jeez. I gotta say, I actually can’t go there … if I start to think that maybe it’s something other than what I was told, I just go down a rabbit hole that is not healthy for me,” she said. “I’m walking into a new chapter of my life … I’m just coming alive, it feels like a rebirth.”