Credit: Mitch Haaseth/ABC

The Grey’s Anatomy universe is expanding.

Thursday’s episode of Grey’s Anatomy will introduce Shondaland’s newest leading lady, Station 19‘s Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), kicking off the big TGIT Crossover Event — the hour is followed by a Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder crossover.

Station 19, which will make its formal debut on Thursday, March 22, follows a heroic group of firefighters at the nearby firehouse. And since the fictional Station 19 is just three blocks down from Grey Sloan Memorial, the spin-off is ripe with crossover opportunities, hence Andy being introduced on the flagship first. But she’ll do so in memorable fashion, arriving at the hospital with her hand inside a patient.

“She’s basically in someone else’s house, and she has no idea what to do,” Ortiz tells EW. “It’s scary and stressful. I mean, I’m excited; I don’t know if Andy’s excited, but in a way, Andy lives for the adrenaline. It’s everything she knows. In this particular situation, there’s this panic. Andy’s so used to just stopping and dropping off the people at the hospital, not ever having to go inside and finish the job. So it’s scary, but also very fascinating.”

That’s a lot like how Ortiz felt stepping into Andy Herrera’s shoes in the world of Grey’s. “I felt so special and so very happy to be there,” she says. “It was a surreal feeling of having binge-watched Grey’s Anatomy for several years, so to finally be walking on their set, I can’t even put it into words. Just being able to work with Ellen [Pompeo], who is an icon, I can’t even. I tried to pinch myself many times. It was that surreal.”

Grey’s Anatomy‘s own leading lady, Meredith Grey (Pompeo), will be there to guide Andy through the situation, creating a bond between them that will come back into play during Station 19‘s upcoming debut. “Eventually, we’ll get to discover that they have similar life experiences growing up,” Ortiz says. “I think they’re both bonded because emotionally there are things that females go through in their industries. A lot of it tends to be bottled up inside, but when you have another female who can connect with you and feel what you’re feeling, there’s this instant sisterhood that evolves and develops.”

“I feel like they’re both independent, strong, successful, smart women who just want to be the best in their profession,” she continues. “They’re human. At the end of the day, they’re not perfect, they’re going to make mistakes, they’re going to fall, and eventually have to get back up. But when you have that support, when you have someone there, it makes life easier.”

Pompeo, too, was able to offer some advice to Ortiz on how to be a Shondaland leading lady. “She shared with me many nuggets,” Ortiz says. “The best thing I got from her is to take care of myself. Obviously, the schedule of drama TV is very hectic, and it involves putting in 70 hours plus a week, so she advised me to take care of myself, eat well, get rest, and make sure that I’m prepared and ready and available to perform at my best, just so that I can be there for everyone else in the show. That was what I took away.”

Grey’s Anatomy airs Thursdays at 8 p.m. ET on ABC. Station 19 will have a two-hour premiere at 8 p.m. on Thursday, March 22, and then will shift to its regular 9 p.m. slot. Scandal will then shift to 10 p.m. for its final run, with a series finale on April 19.

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