Actors who have never spent season after season on a television show likely don't know what a challenge it can be. After all, it's one thing to be on set for a few months working on a project, or for a season or two on a less successful show. It's an entirely different matter to play a character through season after season of trials, triumphs, and everything in between.
But it's something Sara Ramirez knows well—she's spent a large portion of her professional life in the entertainment industry playing the orthopedic surgeon Dr. Calliope Torres on the smash hit Grey's Anatomy.
While she wasn't on the show from the very beginning, there's no denying that she played a huge part in shaping it. After all, she was married to not one, but two characters. She mentored many and had tons of moments where she showcased just how bold and amazing she was.
Fans absolutely loved her, which is why they were so stunned when she decided to leave. She wanted to pursue other opportunities, which is understandable—when you're on a television show, it often doesn't leave a lot of time for other projects.
Now that she's no longer playing Callie every week, we can't wait to see what she's up to. Here are 20 things you may not have known about Sara Ramirez.
20 She Was Born In Mazatlan, Mexico
While Ramirez makes her home in sunny California now, that wasn't always the case—she grew up south of the border, in Mexico, Mazatlan to be specific.
She ended up moving to the United States with her family when she was young, which is likely why she has no accent.
But she does remember the Spanish she learned growing up, which fans got a glimpse of when she was on Grey's Anatomy. She's proud of her roots, so who knows, perhaps she'll take a few more roles in other cinema in the years to come. We'd love to see her acting in Spanish!
19 She Went To Juilliard To Study Drama
Studying drama isn't a prerequisite of entrance into Hollywood. After all, there are plenty of actors and actresses who move to Los Angeles right after graduating high school, looking to make their dreams come true. However, Sara Ramirez is one of the select few who spent several years honing her craft in higher education before heading to Hollywood. She went to the San Diego School of Creative Performing Arts and then ended up getting a spot at Juilliard School of Drama. She graduated in 1997 and headed to Hollywood, prestigious B.F.A. in hand. That must have given her a little extra confidence when going on auditions!
18 She's Got Some Major Pipes And Has Performed On Broadway
Superfans of the show will remember Grey's Anatomy's musical episode, where Sara Ramirez had one of the main roles. However, the average fan may not know that Sara Ramirez actually has an incredible voice.
Since she was already familiar with New York City thanks to her time at Juilliard, she decided to try her hand at Broadway—and made her debut in The Capeman just a year after she graduated from college!
She continued to appear in a few plays over the years and even earned a Tony Award for her performance in Spamalot. Talk about impressive! We hope to see her in a few more musicals.
17 She's Married To Someone Totally Outside The Entertainment Industry
Being married to a fellow celebrity is both good and bad. On the plus side, your partner will know exactly what you're going through with paparazzi and things like that. However, on the downside, the paparazzi will pay more attention to you because both of you are famous. Sara Ramirez doesn't need to swap horror stories of life with the paparazzi with her hubby Ryan DeBolt, because he's not involved in the entertainment industry whatsoever. He's a business and banking analyst, and the two tied the knot in 2012. Ramirez has stated before that it was pretty much love at first sight.
16 She Struggled With Mental Health Issues
Many people assume that celebrities live charmed lives with no struggles, but that's definitely not the case. Celebrities have tough times just like regular people, Sara Ramirez included. She's revealed before that, for a period, she struggled with really serious depression.
As she told Latina Magazine, there were times when she was almost unable to get herself out of bed, and where she'd show up to work and really just not be the best castmate to her fellow stars.
Luckily, she managed to work with professionals and get it all sorted out. We love when celebrities speak out about mental health—with their platforms, it's so great to see them giving a voice to important issues.
15 She Co-Hosted A TED Talk On Education
TED Talks are a big deal—people at the top of their game in their respective industries are usually the ones tapped to present their knowledge to the audience. So, it's super impressive that Sara Ramirez actually participated in one—and it revolved around education, not acting. She and comedian Baratunde Thurston filmed a PBS special entitled TED Talks: Education Revolution, which looks at America's education system and the challenges it faces. As Ramirez admitted, knowing how many struggles minorities face in education, she was passionate about finding out a little more information and using her voice to amplify the cause.
14 She Had A Ninth Grade Teacher Who Was The Reason She Got Into The Arts
Many of us have a particular person who helped shape our lives and professional trajectory at a young age. For Sara Ramirez, that person was a teacher she had, Ole Kittleson.
She spoke about him in an interview once, saying that after she auditioned for a school musical, he believed in her so much that he walked her around campus to the different art departments and introduced her to all the teachers, telling them she was going to be a star.
Obviously, many celebrities who dreamed of being on the stage would pursue that dream with or without encouragement, but still—it's probably a huge motivator to have someone believe in you like that.
13 She Didn't Fit In Growing Up
Sara Ramirez always seems so friendly and full of life, so you may have assumed she was in the popular crowd growing up. However, it turns out that couldn't be further from the truth. As she confessed to Parade, "I didn't fit in, I didn't belong, nobody wanted me there. People were cruel to me growing up. People would say things to me like 'Where's your green card? Go back to Mexico." It must have been an incredibly tough time for her, but luckily, she found her passion during that time period—the arts. When she began getting the leading roles in school productions, "people suddenly knew my name and knew who I was walking around campus."
12 At One Point, She Wanted To Be An Engineer
Some celebs know that they want to be in the entertainment industry from a very young age, and some discovered it a little bit later in life. Ramirez is somewhere in the middle. As she told Parade, "There was a time when I wanted to be an engineer, because I'm still a very curious person when it comes to math and science."
However, she was getting such positive responses to all the artistic pursuits she was engaging in, so she decided to see where that path took her.
While we don't doubt she would have been an amazing engineer, we're glad she picked the route she did.
11 She's A Humanitarian Who Is Passionate About Supporting Causes She Believes In
One of the things we love most about Ramirez is that she's totally fearless when it comes to speaking out about causes she believes in. She's extremely passionate about organizations related to helping the LGBT community and even took a year away from acting at one point in her life to work on activism. She actually snagged the Human Rights Campaign's Ally for Equality Award for 2015 for all the work she's done. Talk about impressive! We love when celebrities use their platform for good—they have such a big voice in the world, why not use it for good if you can?
10 She Spent 10 Years On Grey's Anatomy
It's not easy to play the same character for season after season. On the one hand, you get to know the character very well, so it may be a bit easier to step into their shoes. However, you also have to basically admit that playing that character will take up the bulk of your work life for the foreseeable future.
Sara Ramirez apparently felt so strongly about Dr. Callie Torres that she had no issue playing her for a decade on the show—that's forever!
She finally made the decision to leave after season 12, although she's been outspoken about the fact that she certainly wouldn't mind coming back on the show.
9 She Played A Cashier In The Iconic Rom Com You've Got Mail
It's always so wild to see big celebrities before they got their big breaks, in smaller, less memorable roles in other projects. Well, while you may know this if you're a huge You've Got Mail fan, the average viewer probably wouldn't. Sara Ramirez actually played Rose, a Zabars cashier in the classic Meg Ryan rom-com. It just goes to show that, while some starlets strike it big the moment they reach Hollywood, there are countless others who toil away for years, taking small roles and just trying to build their portfolio, before they really get their big break. It's certainly not an easy industry!
8 She Was A Fan Of Grey's Anatomy Before She Got On The Show
While most actors would likely watch the past episodes or seasons of a show that they're coming onto as a regular, they're certainly not always fans. After all, they can't follow every single show in Hollywood—they're busy going on auditions and trying to get roles!
However, it turns out, Sara Ramirez was actually a fan of Grey's Anatomy, largely because of how diverse the case is.
As she admitted, "as a Latin person, I was really proud to see the ethnic people on the show. I thought Wow, there are no color limits." Shonda Rhimes definitely made a huge impact with her casting.
7 She's 5'9
Sara Ramirez often seems to tower over her fellow cast-mates on shows, but that's simply because many actresses are quite petite. Ramirez, it turns out, is 5'9"—which is why she's still shorter than many male actors she works with. It's always so tough to guess heights in Hollywood because there are so many illusions that can be created through camera angles or careful placement to give whatever impression you need to give. Still, we love Ramirez' statuesque presence—she just commands attention in such an incredible way. And, we love the fact that, in heels, she's over 6 feet—she could be a supermodel!
6 She's All About Body Positivity
Hollywood can be an incredibly gruelling place when it comes to body image, and countless actresses are told uncomfortable things.
However, Ramirez says she had an amazing experience on Grey's Anatomy.
As she told NY Mag, "I actually gained a lot [...] when I started to do Grey's Anatomy. Doing eight theatre shows a week, girl, is such a workout. But with TV, you're, like, sitting in your trailer waiting to go to the set. And there's catering and craft service every place you look." We absolutely love that she wasn't told to change by anyone on the show, and that she didn't worry about it herself.
5 She Didn't Even Have To Audition For Her Role On Grey's Anatomy
Though no one could have known after the first season quite what a massive success Grey's Anatomy would end up becoming, they likely had a good idea that they had something special on their hands. So, you'd imagine it would take a lot of work to get even a guest starring role, let alone a regular role, right? Well, not if you're Sara Ramirez. It turns out, she didn't even need to audition for her role. ABC executives ended up seeing her in the musical Spamalot, and they loved her so much that they flat out offered her a role on whatever show on their network she wanted to be a part of. Crazy! Obviously, she picked Grey's Anatomy, and she definitely doesn't regret that decision.
4 She Believes Love Finds You When It Finds You
Many people worry endlessly about their relationships, especially if they haven't found their perfect match and they're getting older. While some people find love in their early 20s and tie the knot then, that's not the only way to find love.
As Sara Ramirez admits, to Glamour, she learned when she got older that there's really no magic number for finding love.
"I got married when I was 36. I'm 38 now," she says. Many of us put so much pressure on ourselves and worry if we haven't found The One by the time we hit 25, but that's absolutely crazy. Love will find you when it finds you—there's no need to stress about being single if you're happy and have a great network of friends to support you.
3 She Learned To Get Comfortable Being Alone
There are some people who would much rather be in a bad relationship than be alone, but Sara Ramirez is not about that life. As she told Glamour, "when I met my husband I was going through a really interesting transition where I stopped myself from thinking 'will I meet someone?' every time I went out. Once I learned how to be comfortable alone, a lot of the old habits I had in relationships in my 20s dissolved." We can't praise her enough for those words! Before you worry about being in a relationship with anyone, no matter how perfect they are, you have to learn to love yourself, plain and simple.
2 She Knows Disappointment Is Just Part Of Hollywood
No matter how successful you get in Hollywood, you never reach a point where disappointment stops being a part of your life. As an actor, you go on auditions, and you get turned down from roles.
Even if you're an A-Lister who commands huge salaries, you're still not going to get every single role you want.
Ramirez spoke honestly about the issue to Glamour, saying that "sometimes we are lucky enough to get feedback telling us exactly what we need to work on.... if nobody is telling you why you didn't get the part or the job, then you have the option to frame it like this: 'it wasn't for me.'" Yes! It's all about perspective.
1 She's All About The Power Of Positive Thinking
Ramirez has obviously had a ton of success in Hollywood, but she's open about the fact that a positive attitude and perspective on things is a huge asset. She gave Glamour some pretty amazing advice: "Break a negative pattern and remind yourself that conflict isn't necessary. If you learn to stop looking for things to go wrong, you might just find that they no longer do." We love that! Sometimes, all it takes to completely change your life is a change in perspective. If you stop looking for the negative in every situation and learn to view things in a different light, you'll have an entirely different experience.
Sources: Fame10, Parade, NYMag, Glamour