Meet the woman in scrubs on ''Grey's Anatomy''

By Vanessa Juarez
Updated November 03, 2006 at 05:00 AM EST

The Broadway veteran, 31, parlayed her 2005 Tony-winning turn as the Lady of the Lake in Spamalot into a role on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy: As sassy surgeon Dr. Callie Torres, she strong-armed George (T.R. Knight) into a relationship. Now meet the woman in the scrubs.

1 She plays a doctor on TV and has the brains to back it up. Born in Mazatlán, Mexico, and raised in San Diego, Ramirez — the daughter of an actress/singer/educator mother and an oceanographer/professor father — had originally considered a career in engineering.

2 Her character on Grey’s is as self-assured as she is. ”[Dr. Torres is] a tall, full-bodied Latina, who is being portrayed not as a victim of her tallness or of her size. [Creator] Shonda Rhimes wants to make Callie sexy,” says Ramirez, who is 5’9”. ”Latinas — we’re in touch with our sensuality.”

3 Thanks to Grey’s, Ramirez is more comfortable with her own anatomy. ”I was pretty much naked last season…. They put me in my underwear, for God’s sake. I felt intimidated and fat. I said to [Rhimes], ‘Girl, there is so much cottage cheese up in this set.’ She smiled and said, ‘Work it.’ She would not entertain my insecurities. It was a beautiful thing.”

4 If she can make it there, she’ll make it anywhere. In New York City, at age 17, ”I lived in a 10-by-16 room with a loft bed at the top of a walk-up brownstone. The bathroom and fridge were in the hallway, [which] I had to share.” Things began looking up when she entered Juilliard’s drama program; upon graduation, she landed her first film role, as the grocery cashier who takes Meg Ryan to task (”Cash on-ly”) in 1998’s You’ve Got Mail.

5 Someday she’ll return to the Great White Way. She’s been in four Broadway musicals, including Paul Simon’s The Capeman. ”Theater is my home,” she says, but ”I never thought I’d be in a [TV] show of this caliber.”