Sara Ramirez talks lesbian visibility, Calzona and “Broadway Takes the Runway”

AE: When I spoke with Jessica Capshaw in August, she mentioned she sees Callie and Arizona as “the beginning” of a new series of political couples on primetime who happen to be lesbians. What do you think?
SR: That is true. Because of my personal experience, I was really thrilled several seasons ago when I first asked (Grey’s Anatomy creator) Shonda Rhimes that if she were going to have a female character on this show go down the gay road, I really would love for it to be Callie and I’m totally up for taking that on. That’s when we started with the Dr. Erica Hahn (Brooke Smith) character. That’s when all that started.

The whole idea of bringing a relationship between two women to primetime TV without commenting on it was something that developed many seasons ago, back when Brooke Smith was on the show. It’s something that I’m really proud of. Unfortunately or fortunately — however you want to look at it — it went down the road that it went down. But the good news is that the writers and Shonda Rhimes and everyone I think, I hope at least, really made a point not to comment on it as much as just letting the relationship play out as a relationship with universal issues — some not so universal that were kind of dealt with through a lot of sense of humor, in terms of a woman never having been with another woman and wanting so much to please her. There were a lot of things that were tackled many seasons ago that were set up in a way where we don’t have to comment on it while at the same time making a huge impact. For that I’m really grateful to Shonda and the writers for really making an effort.

It’s really great how things have evolved, and now in this relationship — Callie’s second with a woman — we’re really seeing how two strong women with very different personalities learn to navigate and negotiate through all of the very common things that we go through in relationships. It’s fun to see them tackle all that and grow together and grow as individual people because of it.

AE: How political would you like to see Grey’s get with Callie and Arizona’s story line — marriage equality?
SR: With everything going on with Prop. 8 and the fact that it is still this ridiculous battle, it would be so fantastic if it all just got squashed and went away but at the same time we saw Callie and Arizona move on to the next level, whether it was having a child or getting married and having it be legal. Stuff like that I think would be fantastic.

Again, representing the world that we live in, two of my guy friends got married right when it was still legal here in California, right before it became an issue again. The joy that I saw in their faces is something that you never forget. It is a part of the world that I live in and I want to see everyone be that happy and everyone feel that protected and equal. Everybody is deserving. I think it would be great for Grey’s Anatomy to go down that road, absolutely.

AE: Last season ended with Arizona saying she was open to having kids with Callie. How would you like to see that happen?
SR: We’re starting the season off with a lot of huge promises that were made. The shooter comes into the hospital and reminds everybody how short life can be. People, out of this really traumatic life experience, start to realize how precious life is and how much they really love the person they’re with and what they’re willing to sacrifice to be with them — including their own dreams, which I think is interesting. Callie’s dream is to have a baby and she gave it up and said, “I will not have children if it means I’ll be with you because I’d rather be with you.” Then Arizona, on the flip side, goes, “We’ll have 10 children, we’ll have a family, what ever you want, I love you, and I want to be with you.”

Now we’re starting the season off with it’s not really talked about, we don’t really touch on the baby issue but we do start to see the progression of two people who have said to each other that we’re going to be together, we’re going to build a life together. In the first episode this season, Callie asks her to move in and she says yes and it’s great. In the next episode, you see them deal with — in a hilarious way — when you say you’re going to move in together and you don’t realize what you got into until you move in together and then you realize, “Oh, hey, you’ve got some habits, some needs and wants and they’re very different from mine.” You’ll see a very humorous side of that and that’s what we’re going to be dealing with first: the slow progression of them building a life together.

Then in terms of having a baby, if they go down that road, obviously you’re going to need a sperm donor. Then the question becomes how they look into that. Is there going to be a Private Practice crossover? I think that would be kind of neat. Where do you start looking first and who do you pick? Is Mark Sloan (Eric Dane) going to be involved somehow? What are the boundaries around that? Is that going to provide some conflict? I see potential in all of that, but I’m not the writer. (Laughs.) But I think there’s a lot of potential for some really interesting stuff that could really ruffle everyone’s feathers in a really fabulous way that keeps people interested.