For her work on Grey’s Anatomy, Krista Vernoff and her fellow writers won the 2006 Writer’s Guild Award for New Series and received a 2006 and 2007 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Drama Series. Krista was also nominated for an individual Emmy for Dramatic Writing for her episode of Grey’s entitled “Into You Like a Train.”
Prior to her work writing and Executive Producing Grey’s Anatomy, Krista Vernoff wrote and produced shows as varied as the WB's Charmed, Fox's Wonderfalls and Time of Your Life and NBC's Law and Order. Krista holds a BFA from Boston University’s College of Fine Arts and currently lives in Los Angeles with her husband Kevin Maynard and their wonderful daughter, Cosette.
As head writer, you have a great deal of power in giving these characters their voice and shaping the way they are presented to your audience. Do you sometimes laugh at your role in launching ‘McDreamy' and ‘McSteamy' into the fantasies of all your female viewers?
Yes. It’s a strange and giddy feeling to pitch a thing in the writer’s room and then see it on National TV a few weeks later. I love it. I’m this girl who grew up barefoot on Venice Beach, on welfare. I went to high school in a small town in upstate New York.I had no pedigree, no relationships in this industry. So yeah, I have been known to sit and marvel at what has happened to my life that I get to put stuff on TV and people watch it and people invest in it and people care. It’s like the “Seriously” thing. My best friend Peter and I started using “Seriously” to mean just about anything we wanted it to mean. And I brought that into the room, not as a pitch, just as a part of my personality. And it annoyed the crap out of Shonda at first — she was like, don’t you know any other words?? And then the next thing I knew, it was all over the show. It was like I infected the writing staff. It was contagious. And then it was on T shirts and mugs and at one point, on a McDonald’s billboard. So yeah, that’s weird. And awesome.
We have had a great deal of commentary on our site about Bailey's struggles with working motherhood and think her character is fascinating to watch — and worthy of tremendous empathy and admiration. How have your personal struggles shaped her character's development?
Hmm. Well, I don’t know. Our room is full of working moms — there’s me and there’s Shonda and Joan Rater and Debora Cahn and we all talk a lot about what it is to be a working mom. And those conversations surely inform the writing. But I wouldn’t say Bailey is modeled specifically after any of us. Bailey is just Bailey and the character sort of talks to us and it’s our job to try to write down what she says as fast as we can. Bailey is a force to be reckoned with for sure. I feel really blessed when I watch her struggle that I don’t work in a corporate environment. Coco visits me at work all the time. She comes into the writer’s room and colors on our dry erase boards while we work. She runs around the office, eating M and M’s and offering them to everyone. She’s like the office mascot. Believe me, I know how lucky I am that Shonda has created such a woman-friendly, mom-friendly work place. I am grateful every day. And I agree with you that Bailey is a character who deserves tremendous empathy and compassion.
Is there any one character in particular you love writing lines for and working on character development with? Which character do you relate to the most?
I LOVE to write Bailey because she speaks in what Shonda has dubbed “arias.” There’s a musicality to her rhythms, almost like she’s a preacher. When she gets going in my head, my fingers just have to try to keep up. But the character I most relate to is Izzie. I relate to her optimism and to her enthusiasm and to the size of her feelings. She moves through the world heart-first. It can be a beautiful thing sometimes, and sometimes, when you’re all heart all the time, you can get pretty crushed, pretty easily. I relate to that and I like to write it and see where it goes.