Kelly McCreary on the Writers of 'Grey's Anatomy' and Getting Out the Vote

Illustration by Britt Spencer

It's a remarkable thing to be on the air for so long and to feel like each season is still something exciting to look forward to," Kelly McCreary says of ABC's Grey's Anatomy. The show, which returned for its 16th season in September, is the longest-running primetime medical drama in American television history, surpassing NBC's iconic ER.

McCreary—who joined the cast in 2014 as Dr. Maggie Pierce, the cardiothoracic surgeon half-sister of Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo)—is just as amazed as fans by Grey's ongoing ability to deliver thrilling new plotlines for all its characters. So far this season, Maggie's relationship has completely ruptured and her sister was ousted from her lofty position as Chief of General Surgery at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital, but that's only an inkling of the "unpredictable challenges" McCreary says her character and others will endure this season.

She credits all the exciting twists and turns to the talent in the writers' room. "We always get fresh blood; every season there's new talent and the writers inject this new energy into the show."

How does Grey's Anatomy still manage to create fresh storylines?
A great foundation of character stories. And a couple of new series regulars add an energetic dynamic. It's enabled the [long-standing] characters to have new playmates and a new playground. That's the secret sauce.

Maggie's romance with Jackson [Jesse Williams] was fractured. Can they get their spark back?

They have to actually see and acknowledge each other and like that version of the person.

What has Grey's Anatomy taught you about working with someone you're romantically tied to?

The substance of any relationship is the way that you communicate. There is a lot to learn from Grey's; for example, how not to fight. Do you want resolution or do you want to win?

You are an ambassador for When We All Vote. What are they doing for the 2020 elections?

When We All Vote is a voter registration, get out and vote campaign. We're always trying to ensure voters are participating and aware of their local elections, but for 2020 we'll definitely be raising awareness about the electoral process. I have become even more aware in my adult life of how much power we actually have, how we can individually and collectively really make a difference in our communities.