Breaking Through With Television

“Grey’s Anatomy” cast members Chris Carmack (Dr. Atticus Lincoln), Zaiver Sinnett (Zander Perez), and writer Jamie Denbo sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “On The Edge,” a podcast spotlighting stories of opportunity, discovery, and courage. In the newest episode, the trio shares how “Grey’s Anatomy” tackles social issues with deep-rooted stigmas such as obesity. “On The Edge” is a capsule podcast series that is part of the “At Home With The Creative Coalition” podcast.

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Highlights from “On The Edge” featuring Chris Carmack, Zaiver Sinnett, and Jamie Denbo –

Jamie on relearning her ingrained biases about obesity and representing them on “Grey’s Anatomy”:
“I myself had to go through a learning curve. I’m Gen X all the way, you know, and my generation was taught: ‘Fat – bad. Fat is bad, and it’s your fault.’ That was the message that was put out there. It takes a lot of time, I think, and a lot of very smart material information presented in a great way to explain that that’s not true. Just because you learned it when you were a kid doesn’t mean that it was right. Even though the smart, fancy older people told you that was the case. And there’s a lot of great information out there. There’s a podcast called ‘The Maintenance Phase,’ which is Aubrey Gordon, and I forget the other host’s name. But it talks very much about obesity and diet culture as wrong. And that conversation is only starting to happen in mass media. And I do feel super proud that we could bring it to ‘Grey’s,’ even just a little bit, because I wanted to cover so much more. We only have 42 minutes to tell these stories. But what we thought would be the most impactful was to see someone from my old point of view, putting Chris in that role as someone who assumes that the weight is definitely contributing to the injury that he’s examining, when it is not. You know, this presumption that losing weight will always help. It’s like, ‘No, it won’t.’ Sometimes it has absolutely nothing to do with it. There are so many other things we wanted to say that we just didn’t have time for. That you can be a big girl, big boy, big kid, big person. And you might have a better circulatory system than, you know, a marathon runner. You know, we wanted to talk about that. We felt like this moment got the most bang for the buck. There’s still so much more to tell.”

Zaiver on the importance of calling out common stereotypes about obesity within and outside of the medical industry:
“I think, you know, obesity is something where, if you’re walking down the street, and someone says, you know – I can say this because I’m black and gay, I’m all the things – but if someone says, like, a racial slur, or someone says something homophobic or someone’s being a misogynist, like, you can shout those things down. And society is getting better about shouting those things down. But obesity still seems to be the thing where, whether it’s a macro or micro aggression, a lot of people are just like, ‘Well, you know…’ Like, no one really shouts it down. So I loved having the opportunity in this episode to be like, ‘Y’all, the way that we talk, and the discourse on people who are overweight or obese, or have obesity, I love that we were able to shout it down.’ And that’s kind of what was important to me. And the takeaway for people who go to the doctor – and you know, I think we’ve probably all been in a situation like this, I know, I have been in an appointment, where I have a genuine concern. And the first thing a doctor will go to is, ‘Well, you should lose some weight.’ Like that scene with Link and Lila, I’ve had that exact moment. I would need two hands to count, at least. And I love putting out the message that, like, ‘No, you need to be strong in your medical advocacy.’ Because oftentimes, it has nothing to do with the weight. But that’s just the first thing that people see sometimes. So I love reinforcing this idea that the weight has so little to do with it a lot of the time, and you really need to listen to your patient and your patient’s needs.”

Chris on how BMI is baked into medicine despite its flaws:
“So, we use the metric BMI in this episode a lot, which is a flawed metric on many levels, which I personally know, because I have a lot of friends who are bodybuilders, and their BMI is, you know, off the charts. And it’s been used for so long in the health industry. And it’s kind of grandfathered in as this thing. I was reading up about it about how it’s sort of entangled in insurance rates, and doctors have to fill it out to get Medicaid payments, and all kinds of stuff. So it’s kind of stuck in there, but it’s this flawed metric. Which, of course, I’ve thought about, because I’m kind of a muscular guy, I’ve lifted weights my whole life, and I’ve really edged on the edge of BMI as well. So just from the perspective of looking at it and going, ‘Yeah, that doesn’t seem right.’ I’ve thought about it.”

Zaiver on where he thinks the industry is headed:
“That’s a really good question. I feel like our industry is absolutely moving in a direction of far more inclusion than what existed 20 years ago, 10 years ago, even five years ago. So I definitely think that we are on the uphill. And I think episodes like this on ‘Grey’s’ and shows doing the work and talking about these issues is only going to deepen our industry in terms of diversity. And I’m really excited to see where we’ll be in five years, and 10 years, and 20 years. And I’m excited to be a part of it!”

Listen to additional episodes of “On The Edge” right now:
Episode 1 featuring Emmy Award-nominated actor Kelly Jenrette
Episode 2 featuring actor Shanola Hampton
Episode 3 featuring Emmy Award-nominated actor Yvette Nicole Brown
Episode 4 featuring Executive Producer Gloria Calderón Kellett
Episode 5 featuring SAG Award-winning actor Dean Norris
Episode 6 featuring Emmy Award-nominated “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Chandra Wilson
Episode 7 featuring Emmy Award-nominated Executive Producer Ken Olin


More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. For more information, visit On The Edge is graciously supported by Novo Nordisk Inc.