Magazine article Working Mother

Anatomy Lessons

Magazine article Working Mother

Anatomy Lessons

Article excerpt

The audition in March 2004 was nothing out of the ordinary. I certainly had no idea that Grey's Anatomy-was going to be "my big break." In fact, I was doing Caroline, or Change off-Broadway at the time, and it was moving up to Broadway. I thought, This is the one. This play is going to be my big break.

The part of Dr. Bailey was originally written for a blond white woman, but luckily the show's creator and executive producer, Shonda Rhimes, was open to a multicultural cast. What stood out for me most was the character's nickname, "the Nazi." I instinctively knew what I could do with that in terms of Dr. Bailey's demeanor, especially how she treats the interns. She has a teacher's mentality, where on the first day of school, she just walks in and takes control. And she's incredibly competent, even when she doubts her own abilities.

When we started season two, Shonda thought we should focus more on Dr. Bailey's personal life. And then I got pregnant. Well, Acre's the easy answer to what's going on in Dr. Bailey's life.

I gave birth to Michael, my youngest, in October 2005 and then had to get back to work quickly. Since I was breastfeeding, I brought him to the set, where he spent most of the time in the trailer napping or playing with the babysitter. I tried to be with him whenever I could, but some days I'd have to pump so that we could move ahead with production.

This is the same kind of juggling IVe done with all my children. It's simply a part of show business. When I had my daughter Sarina in 1993, I was starring in Paper Moon at the Paper Mill Playhouse in New Jersey. She was born on August 5, and I was back at work five days later. You can't skip a beat if you're trying to earn a living as an actor.

I've had to take other jobs over the years to supplement our family's income. I worked overnights and weekends preparing presentations for Deutsche Bank from 1996 to 2004 because I knew Sarina and Joylin wouldn't miss their mom while they were in bed sleeping. It worked better for me than putting the two of them into day care. It was hard, and it felt like I'd only get to close my eyes for a minute, but I was able to pay the bills on time.

The shooting schedule for Grey's Anatomy is technically 14 hours a day, five days a week, but we work many a weekend, too. When I get off work, I still have my other job-being a mommy-and those hours are 24/7. For me, the key to balancing it all is pacing, making sure to focus on the quality of the time I have with my kids, since I don't always have the quantity. …

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