‘Grey’s Anatomy’: Sarah Drew Appeared on Another Shonda Rhimes Show Before Becoming April Kepner

Grey’s Anatomy alum Sarah Drew recently confirmed that she’s returning to the series as a season 17 guest star. The appearance will reunite the April Kepner actor with her on-screen ex-husband, Jesse Williams, who plays Jackson Avery. For eight seasons, viewers watched as the couple fell in and out of love at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital. 

Before she landed the role of Dr. Kepner, Drew and Grey’s creator Shonda Rhimes worked together on another one of the writer’s hit TV shows.

Sarah Drew at the Paley Fest.
Sarah Drew|Paul Archuleta/FilmMagic

What Shonda Rhimes said about April Kepner actor Sarah Drew leaving ‘Grey’s Anatomy’

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Drew joined the Grey’s Anatomy cast in season 6. Her character, April Kepner, was apart of the merge between Seattle Grace and Mercy West. The hospital later changes to Grey Sloan in season 9. When viewers first meet April, she gains attention for being a devout Christian. She also reveals in season 7 that she’s a 28-year-old virgin. As her story progresses, the trauma surgeon develops feelings for her best friend, Jackson. The pair eventually fall in love, get married, and divorce after the death of their son, Samuel. However, April became pregnant with the couple’s daughter, Harriett, during their separation. 

In the midseason of season 14 of Grey’s, Deadline announced that Drew and Jessica Capshaw, who played Dr. Arizona Robbins, was fired from the series. Although rumors swirled that Meredith Grey actor Ellen Pompeo’s $20 million annual deal caused the firing, showrunner Krista Vernoff denied the allegations. While she didn’t share why Drew and Capshaw left, Rhimes released a statement saying how “hard” it was to say goodbye to April and Arizona. 

“It’s always hard for me to say goodbye to any of my characters. Both Arizona Robbins and April Kepner are not only beloved but iconic — both the LBGTQ and devout Christian communities are underrepresented on TV,” the writer said. “I will be forever grateful to both Jessica and Sarah for bringing these characters to life with such vibrant performances and for inspiring women around the globe. They will always be a part of our Shondaland family.”

The April Kepner actor appeared in ‘Private Practice’ before ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ 

In 2007, Rhimes created Private Practice. The Grey’s Anatomy spinoff focused on Dr. Addison Montomery, the ex-wife of Meredith’s beau, Dr. Derek Shepard. On Private Practice, Addison treated pregnant patients as a fetal surgeon. Actors Taye Diggs, Audra McDonald, and Caterina Scorsone also starred in the series. 

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During the show’s second season, Drew appeared in the medical drama. She played a young, pregnant woman named Judy contemplating adoption. The actor guest-starred in two episodes between 2008 and 2009, per IMDb. She also landed a spot on Glee before becoming a series regular on Grey’s

Sarah Drew recently teased her guest appearance on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ 

Since her exit from Grey’s Anatomy, Drew has continued to work on other projects. In 2018 and 2019, she appeared in several films, including Republic Of Sara and Twinkle All the Way. She also landed a television show on Freeform called Cruel Summer in 2021.

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Although she’s moved on professionally, Drew said she would be open to playing April Kepner again in multiple interviews. However, she officially announced in March 2021 that she’s coming back to the series for a guest spot. Following the confirmation, Drew and Williams teased the return of “Japril” via Instagram

“Nbd. Not excited at all,” the actor captioned underneath a photo of her and Williams. 

Grey’s Anatomy airs on Thursdays on ABC.