One-on-One with Kevin McKidd of Grey’s Anatomy

Entertainment and news media have the unique ability to inform and inspire vast audiences with relatable characters living out authentic experiences through enlightened storytelling. Each year, the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), through its PRISM Awards, recognizes powerful portrayals of mental health and substance use recovery that elevate conversation around these important topics.

Best known for his role as Owen Hunt in the award winning television series Grey’s Anatomy, Kevin McKidd sat down with the Entertainment Industries Council after winning a PRISM Award for best Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline to discuss the power of media to inform and inspire. For seven years, McKidd has immersed himself in the world of Dr. Owen Hunt, Chief of Surgery at Grey-Sloan Memorial Hospital, who has been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after serving as a trauma surgeon in Iraq. In his interview, McKidd stressed the role that the entertainment industry plays in mental health and breaking down stereotypes.

“There are so many stigmas attached to addiction and to mental illness and that keeps people locked in them. And I think the more the entertainment industry can keep pushing those boundaries and telling those stories and keep raising awareness, then hopefully that flame will be kept alight.”

Drawing attention to some lesser-known struggles that are associated with post-traumatic stress disorder, McKidd shed light on how the disorder can affect interpersonal relationships. He said, “One of the biggest challenges for families and loved ones of [people with] PTSD is that there’s a trigger and a time bomb that’s waiting to go off and that’s kind of the tragedy that can really break relationships apart, because once trust disappears it’s very hard to rebuild that.” Dr. Owen Hunt discovered the reality of this when PTSD tested his personal relationship with Dr. Cristina Yang. While clearly challenging, McKidd commented on how mental illness does not necessarily mean all hope is lost.

“I’ve been very lucky that I’ve never struggled with anything myself but I do know from delving into this man, Owen Hunt, … who is dealing with his disorder, that there is a lot of hope and it’s not a thing you’re stuck with. It’s a thing that’s part of a journey and it might be hard sometimes but if you take the right steps, everything is surmountable, I think. So that’s what my character’s story is: he knows he’s dealing with this thing but knows that he can pull himself out of it and maybe become a better person from it.”

When asked to explain how he prepared for a character with PTSD, a disorder he had never personally experienced, McKidd replied, “I used a lot of source material. I was nervous when I was offered the role depicting someone like Owen Hunt who shows signs and then is confirmed to [have] post-traumatic stress disorder, so I did a lot of reading. I read a lot about not just PTSD, but also a lot of biographies and blogs and memoirs of servicemen and women, mainly trauma surgeons; there are many books written by trauma surgeons who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. So I used that to try and really get into that headspace of what it might be like to, on a daily basis, deal with that much carnage and bloodshed and death and destruction, and then go to the material and the medical books about the treatment of PTSD. I talked with army liaison officers who helped integrate troops back in to civilian life. I wanted to try to depict it as truthfully as possible without having to go into a warzone and experience it for myself, you know?”

Photo Credit: Matthews Imaging

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Taking your project from the edit suite to the final product.

I’ve been asked a few times recently to explain the what, how and why of XML, AAF and EDLs. They’re an essential part of any turnover, and each post house will request a different set of one or more of these (often along with your project or bin). I, the Unknown Artist, am here to try and demystify this aspect of turnovers, and hopefully make turnover specs seem less weirdly demanding.

What are they?

When a project is conformed, we’re not relinking your timeline, but rebuilding it in different software. Depending on that software, we need the details of your timeline in one of these formats to interpret it correctly. An EDL is the most simple of the three, which is why we often request it in addition to an AAF or XML.

An EDL (edit decision list) is a simple, specifically formatted text document that describes, shot by shot, a single layer of your timeline. It looks like this:

It can be edited, hacked and even read out loud should the zombie apocalypse occur and you’re left conforming a film with only tapes and two decks. It’s useful though, because we can open it and look at it if we have questions about what you’ve done, or if there’s a shot in there that the system can’t read properly. Each line describes an edit in simple ASCII text. It can be read: source file/tape name, video only (V), cut (C) source in, source out, timeline in, timeline out, then a description of any effects used or any other notes you have chosen to put in there. Then we go down to the next line (002) and see the next cut in the sequence. It doesn’t contain any metadata or instructions about resizes or effects other than that they exist in that shot. It’s effectively a paper-edit that can be read as easily by computers and people.

An AAF (advanced authoring format) is a data file developed alongside Microsoft that allows one computer (your NLE) to tell another computer that speaks the same programming language (the finishing tool) all about your timeline so that it can be reconstructed in a different software system. The file includes a lot of metatdata, which translates many of your effects and layers. To a compatible system it looks like a nice tidy timeline, but to a human (using a text editor) it looks like this:

AAF basically converts your timeline to a binary format, which is decoded at the other end.

An XML is a similar file in that also translates your timeline to computer language. It’s easier to read if you’re not a computer, but it’s also not readable by all finishing software, particularly systems that are not Mac-based. Instead of being binary, it’s Unicode (hexidecimal). It looks like this:

It’s editable and hackable if you know what you’re doing, and its language is one that is easily understood by all sorts of software, not just NLE systems. It also holds a lot of metadata, so it can translate your timeline really well from editing to finishing.

Why don’t all post facilities just ask for the same thing?

Different facilities finish and color on different systems, using different workflows, and have artists with different ways of working. Compatibility between your NLE and the finishing system relies on the turnover adhering to certain specifications. Not only do you need to pay attention to what files are in your turnover specs, but the type of file. EDLs, in particular, come in different types (CMX 340, CMX 3600, GVG, Sony 9100, etc.), and these can vary in terms of column and tab width and number of characters allowed in your source name, among other things. In short, the post house will instruct you as to what file types, exportable by your NLE, are readable by their system. If your turnover is wrong, confusing or incomplete, the conform will be more difficult, or even impossible. There will also be more room for error.

How are the files used?

The job of the conform editor/finishing artist is also to rebuild your project in the finishing system, exactly how you had it in the NLE. They will ask you what sort of source material you have and what system you edited on so they can advise what compatible files they need for turnover.

Whether they ask you for an AAF or XML, they will likely request an EDL for each layer, a QuickTime reference with burn-in and sometimes your project or bins as well. That is so the person doing conform has a way to double-check that everything has translated correctly and to troubleshoot, hack and fix if necessary. Not all of the effects you added in offline will translate automatically, especially if what you did included plug-ins or was too complex. The more information you can give to the person rebuilding your work, the more accurate and straightforward that conform will ultimately be.

In the conform part of our job, as finishing artists, we have quite a technical job and little room for error. We seem kind of picky and demanding, but that is because it is important to us that none of the work done in editorial gets lost in translation. Generally speaking, an open dialog between us and the production is a great thing. We will ask a lot of questions about what we are getting from editorial, and we welcome questions being asked of us. Besides, the more efficiently we can get your timeline conformed, the more time we will have for the other aspects of finishing like VFX, titles and color. We’re much more flexible and fun about that stuff!

There are more aspects to turnovers than just the EDL, AAF and XML files, and more questions I could answer about what we do in finishing, but for now I hope I’ve shed some light on one aspect of the process of taking your project from the edit suite to the final product.

The Unknown Artist is a post-production professional by day and The Unknown Artist by night. Enjoy this semi-regular column, and send topic ideas and questions to

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William Goldenberg on Editing ‘The Imitation Game’

William Goldenberg’s path to editing The Imitation Game was an interesting one. He had never worked with director Morten Tyldum before, but a chance meeting at a party after the BAFTA Awards led to the pairing.

“I didn’t know who he was, and he was loud,” Goldenberg laughs. “This long-haired, Norwegian man came up to me and said he’d love for me to edit this film he was going to direct. His English wasn’t great, and I wasn’t quite sure what he was talking about, but I said, ‘Sure.’”

Goldenberg went on to forget about the meeting until a couple of months later when he received The Imitation Game script, and pieced it all together. Thus began the start of a beautiful collaboration.

Goldenberg calls the script, about the English mathematician Alan Turing who went on to crack the Germans’ Enigma code during World War II, “wonderful. And when I found out Benedict (Cumberbatch) was going to play Alan Turing, I thought that was a perfect casting. Morten and I then spoke at length over Skype; he was already in London prepping. I loved what he had to say about the movie, so I came on. Morten and I never really had met officially face to face about the film until after the movie was shot.”

Goldenberg, who won an Oscar for editing Argo (2012) has been nominated three other times for his work on Zero Dark Thirty (2012),  Seabiscuit (2003) and The Insider (1999). And this year he also co-edited Unbroken with Tim Squyres, which is in theaters now.

Billy Goldenberg at the ACE Awards (2013). Credit: Tilt Photo

I got to talk in-depth with the very busy Goldenberg about The Imitation Game while he was in Pittsburgh at work on an yet-untitled feature film about concussions in the NFL.

You were editing in Los Angeles while they were shooting in London? 

Yes, but Morten and I spoke many, many times during the course of shooting, and I was sending him footage, cut footage, all along the way. We didn’t meet in person about the movie until after shooting was completed.

How were you getting the footage? Were you keeping up with the camera? 

Yes. I was getting the footage over the web. We were working in Santa Monica, so it would come to Company 3 and they would send it over to us by driver. We were essentially getting stuff later the next day. So, if they shot stuff on Monday, we would get it late in the day on Tuesday. It was pretty miraculous, considering they were in London.

I did keep up with the camera, which is what I try to do on every film if I can. Sometimes they shoot so much footage I can’t do it, but I did in this case.

When would you get it back to Tyldum? 

Usually, unless there was something pressing, I would send it to them on Fridays. This way they could look at it in a little more relaxed way, as opposed to getting home after a 12 -or 13-hour shooting day and sitting in front of their laptop watching cut footage.

This was very important, especially since I wasn’t there to read the room. I like the director to look at stuff with a fresh pair of eyes, so they can look at it really objectively.

What kind of direction were you given in terms of the pacing?

I’ll put things together scene by scene, and each scene is sort of its own little movie. As I connect scenes together in longer stretches and the arc of the story is taking shape, I will make nips and tucks to make things flow better… so one thing informs another and the story is moving forward. For me, the overall pace of the film really isn’t shaped until the whole film is together and we’ve lived with it for a while and understand where it needs to be faster or slower, and what needs to be emphasized to make the story the best it can be.

The Imitation Game is based on a true story, but it’s also a thriller in a sense. How did that affect your editing?

They are racing against time to break the Enigma code to try to win the war, and if they don’t, people die. As I was cutting, I kept in mind that these people were in a hurry. At the same time, it’s a character study of Alan Turing, so you have to allow those moments to breathe and help the audience understand the subtext and the stress that Alan is under. It’s a real careful balancing act.

This isn’t an obvious VFX film, but there are a good amount of those shots. What was the workflow like?

There is a sequence in the movie where we see submarines on their way to intercept a British convoy, and those submarines fire torpedoes. That’s all CG. Initially, I was working with the previs while they were shooting. Then, when Morten got back to LA and we were in post, the effects gradually got better and better. I had pretty good previsualization on this movie and we got some temp shots early. Working with the visual effects in this movie was a really smooth process.

Do any other VFX shots stand out? 

As we went forward, we felt like we needed to visually remind the audience of the war and have them see the actual bombing of London. So we added German tanks rolling across the countryside, burning bridges and German planes bombing London. Later in the film, there’s a burning convoy.

This was happening in the middle of cutting, so I found clips from other movies and from documentaries and stock footage to use as a rough template of the story we were trying to tell. Then a visual effects house took that, ran with it and created something unique. We were able to give them an idea of the flavor of what we wanted.

Is there a scene in the film that you are most proud of? 

There’s a moment in the movie where they’re running out of time. Commander Dennison is trying to have Alan fired because he doesn’t trust him. He’s given Alan and his team a month to put a machine — basically the predecessor to the modern computer — together and have it work or he’s going to fire them all.

They are running out of days when they’re out having a beer and Alan overhears part of a conversation that gives him an idea key to helping the machine break the code faster. The problem is every day at midnight, the Germans change the settings in the Enigma box so they have to start all over again.

From that moment on they are wiring up the machine and trying their theory out to break the code… I just love that whole sequence. It’s really fast paced, and there’s an emotional release. After they’ve broken the code, they can’t tell anybody because then the Germans would change the Enigma box and Turing and team would have to start all over again. They have to keep it a secret and only stop enough attacks to win the war, but not to let the Germans know that they were on to them. So, there’s probably a half-hour sequence in the film that is all sort of one big idea, and I’m really proud of the way that works.

How important is your assistant editor on a film like this? 

We’re a small crew — it was myself, my assistant editor Andrew Eisen and a production assistant. Andrew was invaluable. This is the first time we had worked together on a full feature. I involve my assistants a lot in the editing process. I like to run things by them and Andrew’s a creative guy; he’s done cutting of his own. It’s good to have people whose opinion you trust creatively so you can bounce things off of them. Even if you don’t agree with what they say, it’s valuable having another person in the room who lets you see things a little more clearly, especially if that person is smart and has good creative vision.

He is a first rate assistant in terms of keeping the room organized and doing the general assistant work — that’s expected. Where he goes above and beyond is the creative contribution.

You used Avid Media Composer Version 5 on this one. Can you talk about that? 

The Avid has become an extension of my brain in a way because I’ve been using it so long. It’s instinctual. I don’t have to look at the buttons. The Avid allows me to present a movie or scenes from a movie as I’m going along, but they look like finished scenes. We were cutting in HD and were able to put in stereo sound effects, stereo music and all kinds of visual effects in the Avid, so by the time I show the movie to people it looks fairly close to a finished film. It allows the producers and directors to get a real sense of what the film will be like.

The Avid also allows you to make mistakes. When you’re working digitally, you can just make 100 copies and try 100 different things. You can fail endlessly and not destroy the film. I think it’s the willingness to make those mistakes that bring out some really great ideas, and that alone speaks volumes about how valuable the Avid is.

Getting away from The Imitation Game for bit, can you talk about your path to becoming an editor? 

I was not a kid who was making Super 8 movies in their garage when they were 10, but I always loved the movies. I went to Temple University and was studying to be a doctor. When I realized that wasn’t what I wanted to do, I transferred to the film school. I thought maybe that would be a great career. I took a class called Experimental Video, and the teacher saw my work and encouraged me to be a film editor. It was the first time anybody ever encouraged me in the arts in any way in my life. It was an amazing moment.

After graduation I moved to California with the idea of being a film editor. After a year working as a production assistant, I got a job as an apprentice and over several years worked my way up to an assistant. Then I got to be Michael Kahn’s first assistant; Michael is Steven Spielberg’s editor.

What was that like?

He mentored me, and it was like my graduate school. He taught me so much about editing… hours and hours of conversations. He taught me the politics, his methodology, how to think about editing, how to think about scenes, how to take a point of view. I could go on and on.

After four years, I went off and started cutting on my own with his blessing. He would tell people I was good and say if they hired me, and it didn’t work out, he would come and cut a movie for free. That never happened, thank God (laughs), but it meant a lot to people to know that he thought that strongly about my abilities.

You’ve done some pretty serious films during your career. Is there any part of you that just wants to dive into a silly comedy?

I would love to do a comedy. I’ve done a little bit of it — The National Treasure movies have a lot of comedy in them, as does Argo, and there is even a fair amount of comedy in The Imitation Game. Obviously, that’s a different genre of movie and a different kind of comedy. But yes, I think it would be fun.

I have tried to mix up the genres that I work on so I don’t get typecast as an editor. Not only do I enjoy working in the different genres, I think it expands your career possibilities. That in turn will give me a lot more longevity as an editor because I don’t ever want to be just a comedy guy or the drama guy or the action guy. I want to be known as a good editor.

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One-On-One: Actress Katey Sagal Talks Authentic Storytelling

Entertainment and news media have the unique ability to inform and inspire vast audiences with relatable characters living out authentic experiences through enlightened storytelling. Each year, the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), through its PRISM Awards, recognizes powerful portrayals of mental health and substance use recovery that elevate conversation around these important topics.

One such award winner is actress Katey Sagal. Known to generations as Peggy Bundy from Married with Children, Sagal subsequently earned a PRISM Award for performance on the sitcom 8 Simple Rules. Most recently she could be seen as matriarch Gemma Teller Morrow in the hit FX original series Sons of Anarchy (SOA). In the series, Sagal’s character of Gemma Teller Morrow abuses drugs and alcohol. In some ways, Gemma may be a dramatized reflection of Sagal’s own lived experiences. After more than 20 years of sobriety, Sagal opens-up about her recovery, and being in recovery in Hollywood, during her PRISM award acceptance for Female Performance in a Drama Series Multi-Episode Storyline.

What do you think is exciting about your character in SOA, and why are you passionate about having an opportunity to teach through media?

“I think of it in terms of service. I think that whether you are giving a message of recovery, which gives the message of hope. Even if you are showing the ‘misgivings’ of addiction, you are giving the message of hope because someone at home is possibly relating to that and possibly going to go and then seek help. I look at the whole thing as service. It’s just a blessing that I am able to do the things, to be an actor to have a job, to be in these kinds of roles or any kind of role, really.

I mean this is interesting — just the other thing I want to say about this — when I was on Married with Children, I would have people come up to me a lot that were either in the stage of their recovery, because I was pretty vocal about getting sober, and it would help them to know that there was somebody sober that they could see on the TV. So I knew early on in my recovery that that was a benefit.”

What are some interesting or unique challenges you faced in portraying your character’s drug use in its stages over this long-term series?

“She was never written to have a disease; she lives in a subculture. She smokes pot a lot. I don’t think that she thinks she has a disease. In one of the past seasons I was given a certain storyline, I sort of decided, that perhaps in her younger years she drank a lot, and sort of decided to stop on her own. What ends up happening in one of the episodes this last season is that she gets loaded beyond control, she is drinking a lot, which is what she used to do – in other words she is in that stage, I don’t think she is person who says she has a disease.  That would be my answer to that.

We as viewers can really recognize that she drinks and smokes a lot of weed. But what I know about recovery just as a personal thing, it’s not my business to tell someone they [are] an alcoholic; it is their business to tell themselves they are an alcoholic.”

As it relates to the storyline are there ways in which you relate to Gemma?

“I am now sober [over] 26 years. But before that happened, it’s not that I lived the life my character lives, but shades of it. It’s interesting to me that I am put into a position of service by depicting what that life and what those consequences are. She definitely suffers the consequences of not her addiction, but her over use, her abuse.

I guess the answer to the question is, I totally relate to the concept of things not going my way and checking out. That is how I dealt with things for many, many years of my life.  And, for a while it worked, worked really well. And substances do have a shelf life. SUBSTANCES have a shelf life. They don’t continue to work, I do relate to that part of her.”

So SOA is about this group that’s constantly lying, doing lots of things that are not legal, and even murderous crimes. But in a particular episode Gemma conveys such a level of shame for what she has done, driving high with the kids. Why do you think she still feels a level of shame for this particular action?

“Well look at what she did. She drove high on weed. She endangered the people she loves the most. She didn’t think about consequences. That is what I meant earlier, in my own back-story of her. This was behavior she had when she was younger and swore she was never going to do again. Which is the story of addiction: as addicts we always swear we are never going to do it again.

So she comes right smack up against that, and it is at that turning point she begs of, she gets sober right at that moment so the shame and remorse is real. Shame and remorse is real. That’s what it takes for a lot of people to wake up. Hopefully it’s not worse than that, in that situation it was not a fatality, but it very well could have been.”

Want more? Come to the 2015 NAB Show where EIC will produce a Creative Master’s Series session entitled One-On-One: A Top-Rated Series Cast Member Talks Authentic Storytelling. During the session, EIC’s Skylar Jackson goes one-on-one with PRISM Award winning talent to discuss the impact of authentic storytelling. Speakers will examine the influence of entertainment and media on vast audiences and the power of accurate portrayals on attitude and behavior change. This is a unique opportunity to directly interact with those who create informative and empowering television content.

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Five Things to Add to Your Post Production Toolbox

One thing I love to do is tinker with things.  Because of this, I find myself adding things to my post production toolbox that many post professionals might not have heard of, or might not be thinking of, because they don’t appear, at first glance, to be post production specific.  I wanted to think about things that I use that others in the post industry might find useful but haven’t thought of as a post tool. Here are five things that you might find useful when working in post:

1)  File Transporter et al. (                      Free to approx. $200

Dropbox has become a tool that post professionals use daily.  Sharing files, sending links to directors, producers, other teams, assistants, you name it.  The problem is, I don’t like trusting my files, especially ones clients don’t want public, to be stored on other people’s drives or servers.  I like to control my own data.  That’s why I started digging into companies that create the Dropbox feel, but with my own drives.  There are a multitude of options available in a price range that goes from free to 100+ dollars for the devices.

The two that are working best for me right now are File Transporter, who was bought by Drobo a few months back and costs between $99 and $149 and BTSync, which is Bittorrent’s answer to Dropbox.  At the moment I feel File Transporter works just slightly better than BTSync. I prefer File Transporter’s almost identical approach to Dropbox.  BTSync gives you more power over how you share, and appears to give more privacy, as far as I can tell.  However, it is constantly being updated, which is a pain, and sharing is a bit more cumbersome.  But, who knows in a few months, it might be the best option.

For File Transporter, they actually give you a piece of hardware with your one time fee. The hardware allows you to plug your drive into one end of their device and your network into the other end, and voila, you have your own Dropbox.  BTSync doesn’t require hardware which is nice, but if you want to separate it out, you’ll need to build something with a Raspberry pi.

File Transporter:


2)  Boomerang for Gmail                  (          Free to $49.99/month

Your inbox is probably pulling you in multiple directions at once. Have you gone into your email to find a compilation of different correspondence: one for a project, one for your personal life, and a potential gig email?  Have you done this when you are swamped and have a tight deadline? You don’t want to answer the personal one just yet, you want to think about your answer, and the potential gig you’ll approach later in the day, but you don’t want to forget the email is there, especially if you are getting inundated by emails from your current gig. Well, this is where Boomerang comes in. It’s an application you add to your browser and it works with Gmail to make your emails disappear and re-enter your inbox as new when you want. So, if you are scheduling your life, you can tell the personal emails to come back at a particular time, say during a break or in the evening when you have more time for personal stuff.

The app price ranges from free to $49.99 a month. This depends on what your usage is going to be and if you are using it as a company.  Personal use is free, with up to ten emails boomeranged a month.  The next level up is $4.99 a month for unlimited.  At first I thought this was pricey, but as I started using it, I became a champion of it. This app is integral to my work now – I schedule out my days and emails pertaining to particular elements of the schedule. I boomerang my incoming emails and have them return at those particular scheduled times. It’s a great way to keep me focused on the tasks at hand while working.

3)  HandBrake                    (                    Free

I was questioning if I should put this one here. I don’t know a post house that doesn’t have a copy.  However, I teach a lot of classes and find that a lot of students just starting out don’t know about this tool. So, here it is. I think the website describes it best, “HandBrake is a tool for converting video from nearly any format to a selection of modern, widely supported codecs.”  When I cut documentaries, I would get lots of footage in really odd and random formats and codecs.  If the software I was cutting in couldn’t handle the conversion, this tool would!

4)  Audio HiJack                (                                  Free (Up to 10 min. record time) to $49.99 (Full Version)

I use Audio HiJack a lot, since I do a lot of recording of phone interviews for my podcast The Cutting Room.  Audio HiJack is a simple tool that gives you powerful results. You can record lossless audio from any application!  You can add inputs, add mixers, and it even has a “Bulletproof” record option which saves your ass if your application quits or your computer freezes/crashes. It’s a great tool at a reasonable price. 

5)  iDisplay                                        (        $9.99

I can’t take credit for finding this tool.  It was shown to me by Adam Epstein, who uses it on SNL for their digital shorts when he needs to be on set. In short, iDisplay turns your iPad into a second screen for your desktop or laptop. A lot of editors find themselves on set these days, whether it’s showing quick assemblies or ingesting footage and making adjustments (some sets have DITs for this). Pos- production lives are becoming more linked to the set. iDisplay will give you a second monitor out of your iPad and with a simple clip tool or stand, it becomes an amazing addition.

Of course there are a multitude of other tools out there that might not seem as though they fit in your post toolbox, but you’ve found useful. 

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One-on-One with Chandra Wilson of Grey’s Anatomy

Entertainment and news media have the unique ability to inform and inspire vast audiences with relatable characters living out authentic experiences through enlightened storytelling. Each year, the Entertainment Industries Council (EIC), through its PRISM Awards, recognizes powerful portrayals of mental health and substance use recovery that elevate conversation around these important topics.

On the hit ABC TV series Grey’s Anatomy Chandra Wilson plays Dr. Miranda Bailey, an attending surgeon living with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). In an interview with Entertainment Industries Council, during the 18th Annual PRISM Awards, Wilson sat down to discuss what it was like to take on the role of Dr. Bailey as well as her overall views of mental health and the role of media to enlighten and engage vast audiences.

“I think it is 100 percent the entertainment industry’s responsibility to have accurate portrayals of especially something like mental illness when so many – [diagnosed individuals] are battling on a daily basis,” Wilson said. “We can’t take 100 percent responsibility, of course, you know, but it’s really important for us to plant seeds whenever we can, just in order to raise questions in viewers’ minds.”

Through personal experiences with family members living with OCD, Wilson applied the nuances of her experiences to her character. Wilson said she hopes her attention to detail has helped her accurately portray her character and has allowed the audience to have a positive reaction to wanting to seek help.

Although Dr. Bailey was still functioning as a surgeon with her OCD, Wilson said she was not at her best until she received treatment for it. For Dr. Bailey the struggle began with “just making sure” Wilson said.

“She’s in surgery all the time and her need for perfection was hindering her ability to perform procedures. She was repeating steps over and over again just to make sure that they were done. She was overcompensating a lot of time in her patients. She didn’t lose any patients, but, you know, something that normally could’ve taken a half an hour for her started to take her an hour and a half, two hours… that began to filter into her quality of life and you can’t be effective that way.”

Wilson noted the importance of having Dr. Bailey recognize her struggles so she could admit it and then find help. Wilson said she thinks Dr. Bailey is a positive image of an individual living and functioning with a mental illness. She said she wants an audience member to be able to see the character living with a mental illness, and realize that the character is just like them.

It was important to Wilson to be specific to the behaviors of Dr. Bailey’s character to encourage people to watch and think,  “Wow, is that me? Or is that my sister or, you know, is that my husband?… Everybody’s not going to get up and go to the doctor. Everybody’s not going to get up and go to the therapist, but maybe if there’s something that you saw on a television show and it reminds you… of something that’s been sticking out with yourself or with a family member then maybe you’ll want to make an inquiry [into] that.”

Wilson said you don’t realize your behavior is debilitating until you admit it and start speaking about it. “We’re encouraging people out there to say behaviors that stop you from being able to do the normal things in life in a timely fashion, could have a name and if that’s the case then there’s something that can be done about it. There could be other things that could be done, but the recognition of it and the admission that something is going on is the first thing that has to happen.”

Photo Credit: Aaron Jackson,

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