Sarah is every bit the pinup we could have asked for in our 50’s-style photo shoot and everything we love about a great cover girl. How did she take to the set so effortlessly? It’s all she’s ever done and wanted to do. Sarah found a love for entertainment and performance onstage in her childhood years and never looked back. After acting in high school and graduating with a B.A. in drama from the University of Virginia, Sarah Drew made her Broadway debut in 2003 before making the move to the small and big screens. She had a starring role in the show Wonderfalls and a fantastic performance in Radio, but her best-known role is that of playing Dr. April Kepner on the smash hit series Grey’s Anatomy. She also takes the lead in Mom’s Night Out in theaters May 9th. We ask what it’s like to live life in the limelight and at home as a hardworking mother. Shooting with Sarah was an absolute pleasure; she has a unique gift for performing and a mountain of personality.
You were Born in Virginia and raised in New York; how was life growing up for you? What are your favorite childhood memories?
My favorite childhood memories are probably dinner times with my family. We laughed a lot at home.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
I’ve always wanted to be an actress.
How did you get into acting and when was it that your career started to take off?
I acted in school plays and community theatre throughout my whole childhood. Things took off for me when I played Juliet in Romeo and Juliet at the McCarter Theatre in Princeton, NJ. I was reviewed favorably in Variety and NY Times and as a result, had a bunch of agents knocking on my door. Things just took off from there.
What is it like to play Dr. April Kepner?
I love playing April. I think she has evolved so much since my first episode and I’ve loved being able to evolve with her.
Other than the great cast and talented scriptwriters, what is it that you like so much about working on Grey’s Anatomy?
That is what I like about working on Grey’s. We are given amazing stories to tell. I love that we are involved in the storytelling. We talk to the writers all the time and we feel like part of a collaborative team. I feel like my handprint has been on many of the scenes we have shot, and that makes me excited to go to work every day. I’m grateful that my opinion matters to the writers.
How difficult was it filming Grey’s Anatomy whilst pregnant with your son Micah Emmanuel?
No more difficult than any other working pregnant lady. I got tired a lot and we had to be creative with lab coats and charts to hide my big belly, but everyone took such great care of me. I had a rolling stool that accompanied me into every scene so that I could sit down when we weren’t rolling. Our team at Grey’s knows how to handle a pregnant lady. I was the 5th actress in a row to get pregnant and hide that pregnancy on the show. They couldn’t have been more supportive and wonderful.
How has motherhood changed you?
The biggest change has been that my world has narrowed, in terms of what is really important. Before I had Micah, I would get bogged down in career stuff all the time; I was so much more concerned with what people thought of me. After Micah, I think all of that stuff just disappeared because you just don’t have time to care about the nonsense anymore. You are too busy sustaining the life of a baby with food made by your body, that’s one thing. Secondly, the nonsense doesn’t matter anymore when you’re looking at a tiny person that you helped create. Your world becomes about getting home to your family and looking into the eyes of that little eternal being. The stuff of life that occupied so much of my heart and brainspace became irrelevant in comparison to the living, breathing child in front of me. Also, people talk about how intense a parent’s love is. I didn’t understand what they were talking about until I experienced it myself. It is a love like no other. Micah has opened deep wells in myself that I never knew existed and it has been completely life changing.
How do you balance motherhood and a successful career?
I’m incredibly lucky because Grey’s is a big ensemble show; I actually get quite a bit of time off. I have the amazing luxury of going to work and doing what I love to do and also getting to spend as much time as I’d like with my boy. I think moms that have “normal” 9-5 jobs have it a lot harder than I do. I’m also lucky in that I have a totally equal parenting partner in my husband. He is an amazing dad and picks up the slack when I have super late nights or super early mornings on set. Because my schedule is weird and irregular, we sometimes have our family “weekend” in the middle of the week and treat the weekend as workdays. My husband and I both have strange work hours, so we make it work for our family. It takes some negotiating and navigating, but on the whole, we are incredibly lucky and so amazingly blessed.
What do you love the most about being a mother?
There are so many things. I love my boy. I find the child development process so miraculous. I love watching him figure out new things and say new things. He’s 2 now, and there are new discoveries every day. I love dreaming about what kind of man he will become. I love that I have so much time ahead of me to watch him figure out who he is. Motherhood is a refining process. I feel like I’m becoming a less selfish human being simply because it’s really hard to be selfish when your day is ruled by a 2 year old. He was up crying for an hour last night and I had to stop what I was doing to care for him, and I wanted to. It’s a strange thing to actually begin to develop the desire to do the selfless thing, to put your day on hold for someone else and actually enjoy doing it. I’m grateful for this process for so many reasons.
How will you be spending Mother’s Day this year?
Probably in the theater watching my new movie Moms’ Night Out!
You have your movie Moms’ Night Out coming out May 9th. Can you tell us more about Allyson, the character you play?
Allyson is a stressed out mom of three who is desperate for a break. She is running herself ragged and doesn’t know how to care for herself in the midst of the crazy motherhood journey. She feels inadequate and exhausted, so her husband encourages her to go out for a night on the town with her girlfriends. She does, and everything goes wrong for the moms and for the dads left at home with the kids. It’s a really funny and joyously moving romp through the beautiful mess we call parenting. This movie is so deeply relatable. You will watch it and feel like someone has put your life up on the big screen. I relate to Allyson in so many ways and I think every mom out there will find something to relate to in this film.
The movie has been described as “Breathtakingly funny!” Did you have a fun time on set?
We had a total blast! It was such a collaborative experience, and the script was constantly changing for the better as a result. It was a beautiful and hilarious experience and I think you’ll see how much fun we had when you watch the film. I dare someone not to grin the whole way through the movie.
We thoroughly enjoyed our photo shoot with you at Mel’s Drive-in, did you have as much fun as we did?
Yes! That was so much fun! I love 1950’s era so much. It was kind of a dream come true doing a shoot like this.
Which style did you like the best and why?
I really can’t choose. They were all really fun looks.
You are totally suited to the 1950’s era, would you say this is an era that you particularly connect with?
Yes, I connect with the 50’s era look. I think dresses were made so well back then. They really followed the woman’s form and accentuated the beautiful and sexy things about the woman’s figure. I also love the hair and makeup from the 50’s. The hair especially was always a sculpted work of art. It’s always really fun to dress up and imagine myself in another era!
What is next for Sarah Drew? Do you have anything else you wish to share with our readers?
The biggest thing that I’d love to promote is my movie Moms’ Night Out which will hit theaters May 9th. Be sure to check out the website.
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1. I know how to weld. I had to learn how to do it in college. I set my pants on fire twice.
2. I played 8 different sports in high school (soccer, track, cross country, diving, swimming, fencing, ballet, aerobics). We were required to be on a team every semester, so I kept switching it up so that I wouldn’t get bored.
3. I didn’t own a hair dryer or makeup (other than stage makeup) or any beauty tools until I had graduated from college.
4. I spent kindergarten as the only hearing child in a classroom full of deaf children. I don’t remember any sign language, which is a bummer because I find sign language so unbelievably beautiful.
5. When I moved into the neighborhood I currently live in with my husband and son, I was welcomed by the gang of kids on the block as one of their own. They even gave me an official secret name (which I can’t share… obviously). I think they were confused about whether I was a kid or a grownup. I was 26.
My perfect date involves being surprised by my hubby with something that I didn’t have to plan any part of. I would love to go somewhere beautiful to watch the sun set and then I would love to eat a really amazing meal (I have a pretty adventurous taste, so sometimes I find menus overwhelming). Then I’d love to go see a show, but not just any show. A brilliantly acted, brilliantly written play that makes me laugh, cry and think. I want something that inspires me to be a better actor and a better human. No pressure, play! Yeah…that sounds like a pretty damn good date.
Photo: Daniel Zahoul (Naluda Magazine)
Stylist: Ali Levine
MUA: Christian The MUA
Location: Mels Drive-In
Production: Lisa Woodcock & Rachel Lutsky