Sarah Drew on Her Return to ABC’s ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and April’s Impact

Sarah Drew made her highly anticipated return to Grey’s Anatomy in episode 17×14, “Look Up Child.” Fans were thrilled to see April Kepner back on their screen after Drew’s departure in season 14. Despite April seemingly getting her happy ending with Matthew before leaving the show, many still secretly (or maybe not so secretly) hoped that before the show ended, Jackson and April would reunite and possibly end up together after everything they went through. Well, now, it’s safe to say that there is a very strong chance that Japril is, in fact, endgame.

In “Look Up Child,” we found out that Jesse Williams will be making his exit in the following episode (17×15), but Drew’s character plays a huge part in Jackson’s next big step in life. Jackson, April, and their daughter Harriet will be moving to Boston and while we won’t exactly get to see what this means for the family unless we get a Japril spinoff (fingers crossed), we can hold on to one sentiment; “Fingers crossed for new horizons.”

ABC/Richard Cartwright

During a press conference to discuss her return episode, I asked the actress what the fan love for April means to her and what it feels like knowing she plays a character that means so much to viewers. “Thanks for asking that. I have been so moved, especially this year, I’ve had more contact with fans because I’ve been on the Cameo platform. So I do these like little two-minute conversations with people once a week and I do these shoutouts, and so many people are, first of all, just discovering it now like in the pandemic, the 12 and 13-year-old girls have all started watching it and binging it. So April feels like she’s kind of evergreen; even though she hasn’t been on the show for three years, people are still just now experiencing her story,” Drew shared.

“I think the privilege that I feel in playing this character is that she really has helped a lot of people. Well, that seems to be the common refrain that I get, is that because she went through so much trauma— she lost a child, lost her marriage, lost her faith— and then like comes back with beauty and hope that she kind of becomes this beacon of hope to a lot of people who are struggling or are like, ‘Well, if April can get through that, then I can get through that. I can do it. I’m a soldier. I am brave. It’s possible,'” the actress expressed to The Nerds of Color. “And for me, the privilege of affecting people through story and making them feel less alone— I’m literally gonna cry thinking about it— it’s so moving. It’s so so moving. And I mean even on like, the Cameo app, I’ve had people share things that they haven’t shared with anybody else because they just feel like, ‘I can share it with Sarah and April because they would understand it and they’ll hold it with me.’ It’s the greatest gift I could ever imagine, one of the things I’m the most proud of. And the fans, I just love them. They’re so passionate, they have so much love, and they’re so excited like it’s just bonkers, I love it.”

ABC/Richard Cartwright

As for how she felt about the episode’s ending, Drew told The Nerds of Color that she was “super satisfied.” She continued to say, “I mean, there was a part of me that wanted a kiss at the end, too, just cause I’ve always rooted for the two of them and I know the fans have really rooted them. Oh, I get yelled at on the daily from Twitter— all in love, all in love, but in caps, definitely. So yeah, there was an element of like, ‘Man, wouldn’t it be great if they could just ride off into the sunset and have a good Japril kiss and, you know, everything is right with the world?’ It’s just the whole rest of the episode felt so honest and grounded, and I think these two people having matured in the way that they’ve matured, I don’t think it would have been smart for them to rush into that. Even if they’re both feeling things right now. It’s like, you gotta give some space to this. You gotta— like there’s tenderness here. So I think that they’re in a smarter place. So they’re not gonna rush into things, they’re gonna take their time. And that may be in a spinoff.”

We also discussed how she felt about April and Jackson being the only Grey’s Anatomy couple to have their own trilogy. “That’s such a privilege to have gotten to have so much screen time for the two of us and get to really develop meaty, deep, layered relationships and character development. It’s every actor’s dream.”

ABC/Richard Cartwright

Seeing Jackson and April back on our screens again was absolutely everything and we are definitely ready for a Japril spinoff. Drew’s portrayal of April Kepner, as well as April’s story, will forever be such a beautiful and important part of the Grey’s Anatomy legacy. Be sure to catch Drew in the role of Cindy Turner in Freeform’s new psychological thriller, Cruel Summer.

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