Sterling Sulieman plays Grant on ABC’s Station 19. We recently got the chance to chat with him about what is to come on Station 19, as well as his past in Shondaland and even his favorite television ships. Check out our chat below!
Well, my parents were always very encouraging as far as acting. I think they both have artistic streaks; they are doctors, but they have their own artistic streaks. So they were always taking my sister and I to see theater and shows, basically anything artsy that came through town. We started doing after-school programs in theater, kind of from the get-go. My sister still performs as well. She’s on Broadway in the musical, Beautiful. In early, early childhood, that became the number one passion and I kind of just kept pursuing it from there.
Where are you from?
I’m from Hawaii.
Is there a person or a moment that made you realize you wanted to act professionally?
You know, it’s just kind of the upbringing. It was like as a kid, you’re doing as many activities as possible, but as you get older you have to keep choosing at the time. So I always chose acting and theater, so it was like a clear path, I guess.
What was your audition process like for Station 19?
Well for Station 19, I’d actually gone in for the pilot. I had gone out for, I think both Ryan and Travis, and I did not get it. Then they started season one and Stacy McKee gave me a call and she told me about the character and I had worked with Shondaland before and I love their shows. So it was just like, “Yep, sign me up.
That was Still Star-Crossed, right? The Romeo and Juliet-esque sort of show?
Yeah, spin-off if you will.
So you know how Shondaland ticks and everything.
Yeah, exactly. It’s such a fun group of people over there. Everyone’s just like excited at all times.
That’s so great. So what’s it been like working with Jay Hayden? Has that been fun?
Oh, yeah. Great. He’s really fun. Yeah, he’s a really fun guy to work with. Everybody loves that guy. When I joined the show, everyone was like, “Oh, you’re going to work with Jay? Jay’s the best.” [laughs] And it’s true.
Earlier this season, there was a bit of an emotional moment between Grant and Travis where they were kind of discussing not wanting to feel like they’re constantly going to lose each other.
In a way, it kind of felt this was them fully committing, finally. So what is the next step for them? What can we expect from them in season two?
I think in season 1 Grant was like, “Okay, I’ll take this slow. Whatever.” And we’ve fast forwarded a lot now. He’s been taking care of Travis while he got back healthy. So yeah, the relationship is definitely in a new place and I think when it becomes more real like that you do have to take into account how dangerous that job is and what that means going forward. But yeah, I don’t know. I think they have a quite a few hurdles to jump in their relationship.
That’s fair. There’s going to be meeting the family further down the line.
Yeah, for sure.
How has the fan response been overall to their relationship?
Oh, great. People are huge fans of the relationship. It’s kind of like the main or, I’d say, the strongest. No, not strongest. Who knows what I’m trying to say?
No, if you were about to say the strongest ship on the show, I’ll agree with you.
Well, there’s Ben and Miranda, and that’s obviously super strong, but other than that it’s like the strongest ship on the show.
I’ll agree. So obviously then that means that you’re aware of the whole concept of shipping, right? With television couples…
[laughs] I did not know what that term was when we did Still Star-Crossed. I was like, “ship? What is this? What are they talking about?” Now I get it.
So what are some of your top television ships? You can pick anything.
Ooh, some of my television ships… man, I’m trying to think of shows I watch. Let’s see [laughs]. I didn’t get to go watch a lot of TV growing up so I don’t have any old ones. Maybe some Game of Thrones.
Game of Thrones, okay.
I’m down with Jon Snow and the Queen getting together even though that’s complicated [laughs]. Let’s see – what else? I am just blanking on what else I watch right now. Have you ever seen the show Lovesick on Netflix?
No, I haven’t. I keep hearing I need to, though.
Oh yeah, I mean that one for sure. Those two finally ending up together was a huge ship, for sure.
What about Grant’s grandmother, will we ever see her again?
So far I have not seen her. But yeah, working with Marla Gibbs was great. I hope she comes back on the show. She’s so fun, so funny. She’s a legend. That would be awesome. And she’s family, you know?
Yeah! So the website is called Talk Nerdy With Us because, you know, we all have that inner-nerd. So what are you currently nerding out over? It can be anything. It doesn’t have to be TV.
What am I currently nerding out over? Oh, my gosh. You should have asked the questions I was ready for [laughs].
Sorry, we try to be atypical [laughs].
[laughs] Which is great. I’m re-watching Stranger Things again because I’m about to do a musical parody of it.
So I definitely nerded out over that show for sure. I love the eighties vibe of that show; it was just so nostalgic.
Where is this musical parody happening?
It’s called Rockwell Table & Stage in LA.
Oh man. I was hoping it would be on a website or something so we could see that…
Oh, yeah. No. It’s live. It’s really, really fun. I did one with them earlier this year. We did Jurassic Park.
Oh, that’s funny.
Hmmm. What else? I mean, I am currently not nerding out over anything, but I love anything kind of sci-fi/fantasy. I get caught up real quick, which means I try not to watch it because I get sucked in [laughs].
So does that mean you’ve seen the new Doctor Who?
No, I’ve never seen Doctor Who.
No, because that’s one of those ones I’m scared to get caught [up in]. But you know what got me? Lost got me, a long time ago. It was so strong and now I’m scared to get involved.
So that brings me to a really interesting question because I’m always curious when I talk to other actors: are actors able to see television the same way that we are? Are you able to watch a TV show and be like, “Oh man, I’m such a fan of this.”? “I love when they do this.” Can you get lost in a world just like fans do?
It’s funny. You know, you get to do both. You can definitely lose yourself in a film and in a show. But obviously if one of your friends shows up in it, you’re taken right out. You’re like, “Oh, that person is in my acting class.” And you do notice some technical things, but I say you still get completely lost in the story.
That’s good. I’m glad you can watch Game of Thrones and be like, “I want to go there. I’m this house, that house” and you can see that without being like, “Man, that camera shot must’ve been a bitch.”
[laughs] Yeah, no, I can just get lost in it.
What else can you tease about the upcoming season of Station 19?
All I can really tease is that there is one episode that gets pretty sexy.
That’s another thing about Shondaland, like you said, they’re very positive in everything they do. With all of their storylines, they always tackle things very openly and very positively.
Yeah, for sure. It’s one of the great things about working with this group. They do great representation on their shows and really three-dimensional characters.
So now you’re part of a show that’s part of a bigger universe, too. This is a thing that’s becoming more popular on TV. You’ve got it on the CW with Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow, you’ve got it on NBC with One Chicago and now you’re in a show with an expanding universe. What is that like?
I think that’s so cool. Even in the pilot episode, it was like, I’ve never done an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, but suddenly I was in the hospital that I’ve seen on TV for years. So it’s kind of cool. It’s like, as you said with getting lost in it, it just makes it so much more real and they bleed into each other like that.
Now the only shows you are missing are Scandal and How To Get Away With Murder and then you can say you’ve been on them all, right?
That is right. I’ll have to try and sneak in there somehow [laughs].
Have you met Shonda?
No, I haven’t actually! She’s too busy. She’s got a million shows.
Queen of television.
Yeah, it’s so bizarre. But I would love to one day.