Krista Vernoff, showrunner and producer for the ABC drama Station 19, said 25 names appear at the end of the show’s George Floyd-inspired episode, because as “a middle-aged white lady” she was “not equipped” to write the story on her own.
In writing Thursday night’s Station 19 episode, “Get Up, Stand Up,” which touched upon the death of George Floyd, Vernoff said in an interview with the Hollywood Reporter that she invited her “diverse” body of actors, writers, and support staff to share their ideas and perspectives, as she felt unequipped as “a middle-aged white lady.”
While the 25 names who weighed in were not formally credited — a decision that came down from the studio — each name was nonetheless listed on an end card that flashed at the end of the episode, along with a message stating that Vernoff’s script fee was donated to the Color of Change Education Fund.
“I wrote to the studio [ABC Signature] and said, ‘I’d like to make this written by everybody’ and I got a ‘No’ back,” said Vernoff, who’s also severed as an executive producer of Grey’s Anatomy. “I honestly don’t know if it was the Writer’s Guild or the studio, but it was a hard no.”
The showrunner explained that while initially writing the script for “Get Up, Stand Up,” she said to the cast, “I can’t do this one on my own. I’m not equipped. I don’t have your life experiences.”
“So, I’d like to ask you each to please write to me — whether you want to actually write a monologue or scene, or you just want to write me an email about what you think your character might be unpacking around this murder or what you personally unpacked around this murder, I need your input,” Vernoff added of what she said to the cast.
“And then I said the same thing to the writers room and the support staff in the writers room,” she added. “It’s a very diverse room and a very diverse support staff and I said, ‘I’m a middle-aged white lady, I need your lived experiences here.'”
Vernoff went on to say that “everyone wrote these beautiful scenes, monologues or just emails, and I took all of that material and that’s what I was working on [back in March] because it had to be done quickly.”
When asked about her experience opening her email, and reading the personal perspectives of her diverse cast and crew, Vernoff said that she began to cry.
In the episode, some officers are allowed to hit the streets to join a Black Lives Matter rally.
Station 19 joins a growing list of network and streaming TV series pushing an anti-police message — rhetoric that has become very common with nearly every TV drama.
ABC’s The Rookie recently featured a mother who tells her police officer daughter that she is “not proud” of her because she is a “paid bully for the city.”
Network TV shows, including This Is Us, Law & Order: SVU, and Chicago PD, kicked off their new seasons last year with social justice-themed storylines that tout systemic racism and portray police in a negative light.