By Natalie Abrams
March 21, 2018 at 12:00 PM EDT
Mitch Haaseth/ABC

Station 19 will officially join the TGIT lineup on Thursday.

The Grey’s Anatomy spin-off follows a group of heroic firefighters at Seattle Fire Station 19 — from captain (Miguel Sandoval) to newest recruit (Jason George) — as they risk their lives and hearts both in the line of duty and off the clock. These brave men and women are like family, literally and figuratively, and together they put their own lives in jeopardy as first responders to save the lives of others. Check out first-look photos here and our deep dive with showrunner Stacy McKee here.

We’ve already met the captain’s daughter, Andy Herrera (Jaina Lee Ortiz), on the flagship, where she was thrust into uncharted territory at Grey Sloan Memorial — read Part 1 of our interview with Ortiz here. Now that the spin-off is officially launching on Thursday, read Part 2 of our interview with Ortiz below.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How do you think Station 19 is different from the other Shondaland shows?
JAINA LEE ORTIZ: It’s different in the sense that there’s more action. I guess the only difference is fire. Well, that’s not the only difference, but at the end of the day, we’re firefighters. So that dynamic in itself calls for higher energy, more life-threatening situations. Shonda’s storytelling in all of her shows, it’s all very fluid. There are strong characters. The storytelling is very dynamic in the sense that it’s all about their relationships. People will fall in love with the characters, and want to ride this journey with them. So that’s what’s special about her shows.

What kind of dynamic does Andy have with the rest of the firehouse?
Andy’s this natural born leader. She takes after her dad. She likes to set the example being a second-generation firefighter. She demands respect. She doesn’t think males are better than her. She’s a total alpha female. She’s a firecracker. I love that. I think that her best friend Maya is very special in her life. We have two other badass females, Barrett Doss and Danielle Savre. I think everyone’s going to fall in love with them. They are the rock stars of the station. Everyone’s so unique. Because we spend 24-hour shifts together, we are bound to fight, and fall in love, and back-stab each other, but at the end of the day, we are a family, and we are bonded thicker than blood. That’s what’s unique and special about Station 19.

The show launches with a pretty huge turning point for Andy. What can you tease of how this defines her moving forward?
Pretty much Andy feels like she has everything figured out. She knows exactly what she wants when it comes to her work life. When it comes to her love life, she’s a hot mess. The last thing she needs is to have a family crisis. When her father is put in a life-threatening situation, it turns her world upside down. She almost loses it. You see a very intimate and personal personality trait about her. At the end of the day, she realizes that family matters most. The fact that her and her dad’s relationship is being celebrated in this show is a beautiful thing to see, because who doesn’t love a daddy/daughter relationship? I think that is the root of all of her relationship issues, but it’s beautiful at the end of the day.

How does Andy and the rest of the team feel about Ben?
Oh my gosh, Andy and the rest of the team love to pick on Ben (Jason George). He is the new guy. He is the boot — firefighters call the newbies boots. So we give him all the tough jobs, all the dirty jobs, all those chores and tasks that new recruits have to do. They suck. They involve cleaning bathrooms and doing laundry. It’s great to pick on him. He is the new guy in our house. We know he’s not the new guy in the Grey’s Anatomy world, but it is so fun. There is that respect for him, because he has experience as a doctor. So it’s just fun, because he’s just an easy target.

Station 19 debuts with a two-hour premiere Thursday at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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