There’s something about getting to talk to the people that bring your favorite characters to life. I can’t describe it… but I know it’s special. It’s not something I ever thought I would get to do. But here I am, for the second time, doing just that.
It was one line of dialogue. After I heard that line spoken so clearly, so unapologetically, I knew who I wanted to talk to next.
“I’m a proud trans man, Dr. Bailey. I like for people to get to know me before they find out my medical history.” -Dr. Casey Parker, Grey’s Anatomy
So, I reached out to the man behind that incredible line, Alex Blue Davis. He was incredibly nice and agreed right away to do this interview. And that’s enough of my babbling. I know why you’re all here, so let’s get to it!
The Lane Online: How did you get the role of Dr. Casey Parker? Was it a normal audition process or did they approach you specifically for this part?
Alex Blue Davis: Booking the role of Casey Parker began with the standard audition process. My manager saw the breakdown and my agent called casting to get me an appointment.
TLO: You and Krista Vernoff (Grey’s Anatomy showrunner) seem to have a very solid relationship, can you talk a little about working with her?
ABD: Krista is a renegade. I see her thinking creatively about ways to tell stories with big, unexplored themes while including small, meaningful details that make characters (and their relationships) relatable, funny, flawed… human. She’s also juggling so many characters in each script, it’s dizzying. I’m learning a ton from her.
TLO: What does it mean to you to be able to play this doctor who just happens to be trans (in the sense that it’s not the most interesting/important thing about him) on such a major TV show?
ABD: Playing Casey is awesome. I think he’s the perfect guy to blow stereotypes about trans people out of the water. I’m honored I get to bring him to life.
TLO: Casey got a lot of love after 1409, how did that make you feel?
ABD: I initially felt blown away by how much love Casey got after 1409 aired. It’s encouraging that he’s been embraced by people outside the LGBTQ community. Like, he’s a hero first––a guy at Grey Sloan with mad skills. I feel particularly relieved that trans guys are into him. My bros deserve to be represented by someone cool, and someone they respect.
TLO: What do you think is Casey’s biggest strength?
ABD: I think Casey’s biggest strength is paying attention and making connections quickly. Like, he can assess a situation and see what needs to be done. Well, that strength is very closely connected to the one that comes after assessment, which is taking action. He works REALLY well under pressure. The practical skills of assessment and efficient action are definitely important as a doctor, but I actually think that Casey’s most important strength is his heart. He realized he could save more lives as a doctor than as a soldier, and that was his motivation for switching careers. He cares very deeply about his patients and his fellow doctors, even if he’s rarely outwardly emotional. His words and actions speak volumes about how big his heart is.
TLO: Were you a fan of the show before you joined the cast?
ABD: I had seen a few episodes of the show but was not a regular viewer until I booked Casey. I’ve been catching up––going out of order by starting with big events, like the plane crash and the fire, and also fun episodes that stand out, like the musical episode or any episode with a wedding in it.
TLO: If you could choose any bizarre medical case for Casey to be involved in, what would it be? (It can be something that’s already happened on the show.)
ABD: The woman who came in with the 60 pound tumor that had been growing on her abdomen for a year and a half and she hadn’t come to the hospital because she was afraid to die. Casey would be good at dealing with something heavy (pun intended!) like that. (This is episode 106, “If Tomorrow Never Comes,” for those wondering.)
TLO: What’s the weirdest prop on set?
ABD: I think the prop that Bailey comes up with for this season’s content is by far the winner here. It is weird and gross (and brilliant).
TLO: If you were a doctor in real life, what would your speciality be?
ABD: If I were a doctor in real life, I think my specialty would be neuro. I can’t imagine being smart or precise or patient enough for that, but I love the idea of working on a person’s brain while they’re awake, and by the touch of one instrument, giving them back their power of speech or ending a crippling body tremor, or something crazy miraculous like that.
TLO: I know you’re into music as well as acting, but I’m interested to know which came first? And did one build off of the other?
ABD: I played around with acting as a kid for fun at school and in a drama class, and I started taking music lessons around that same time. So technically, I started both at once because my parents were big on giving me artistic opportunities. As a career, I was into music first. I recorded original music and gigged around for a few years before I started studying acting in a more focused way and doing it professionally.
TLO: You were born and raised in LA, and because of that, you never had the “pack up your things, get in the car and drive to Hollywood” story so many actors have. Do you feel like you almost had a home field advantage in that sense?
ABD: I have no idea if being an LA native was an advantage to me location-wise. However, I think the fact that I grew up with parents in the entertainment industry helped for sure. It’s like I joined the family business––but still, I had to work really hard at learning how to act and how to enjoy the job of acting in a business-heavy industry, which I’m guessing anyone moving here has to learn also.
TLO: Who is your biggest inspiration in life?
ABD: My wife is my biggest inspiration. And I’m not just saying that because she will read this. She has been the great catalyst in my life. She’s why I’m on Grey’s Anatomy. Believe.
TLO: What is one piece of advice you have to anyone thinking of making the move to LA to pursue a career in entertainment?
ABD: Best advice I got was study, have fun, and be patient. Really be ready to wait a while to book that breakout role. Enjoy yourself and your life in the meantime. Make sure your relationships and other things you love to do are all as important (or more so) than your career. Then when you get rejected for the 40th time that year, you’ll be happy with your life. Don’t wait to be happy until you’ve booked work. My dad liked to say it this way, “don’t postpone joy.” If you wait to be happy until you’ve “made it,” there’s a strong chance you won’t be happy when you do.