Image: Dr. Vanessa
Grubbs and Robert Phillips at their wedding in August 2005. (Courtesy of
When she was a primary care doctor in Oakland, Calif., Vanessa Grubbs fell in love with a man who had been living with kidney disease
since he was a teenager.
Their relationship brought Grubbs face to face with the
dilemmas of kidney transplantation — and the racial biases she found to be
embedded in the way donated kidneys are allocated. Robert Phillips, who
eventually became her husband, had waited years for a transplant, and Grubbs ended
up donating one of her own kidneys to him. And along the way she found a new
calling as a nephrologist — a kidney doctor.
She shares her story in a new memoir called Hundreds of Interlaced Fingers: A Kidney
Doctor’s Search for the Perfect Match.
We caught up with Still Star-Crossed’s resident prince, Sterling Sulieman, to talk secret affairs, sacrifices, and Shakespeare.
Bid good-morrow to your new favorite TV prince: Sterling Sulieman
has just begun his run on ABC’s Shakespearean soap fest, Still
Star-Crossed. Before assuming the throne, the charming Hawaiian was best
known for his roles as Nate St. Germain on Pretty Little Liars and
Harper on The Vampire Diaries. Now in the capable hands of Shonda Rhimes,
the Queen of Soap herself, his Romeo and Juliet is sexy, fun, and
surprisingly complicated. We’re only three episodes in, but we’ve caught
up with Sulieman to get the scoop on what to expect in the upcoming
season, and what his character was “born to do.”
Sulieman phoned into TV After Dark to talk romance, violence, and
intrigue in his new hit series, where his Escalus is still learning to
balance his personal life with the greater good. We learned about Prince
Escalus’s regrets, his relationship with Rosaline (Lashana Lynch), and what may or may not have actually gone down in Venice. Want to know more? Read on!
TVAD | Romeo and Juliet is on the required reading list for
many schools. Of all the Shakespeare you had to read in high school, did
you have a favorite? Sterling Sulieman: I really liked a Midsummer Night’s Dream. It’s so fantastical and magical, that’s one of my favorites.
Do you think you would still have taken the role if you had to do the lines in old English? I definitely would have accepted that, but I guess it would be rough.
Prince Escalus lives in a society in which social class is
of the utmost importance. Have you ever been in a situation where social
conventions got in the way of love? I think, personally, I haven’t been in that kind of situation, and it
definitely exists in our society. It’s interesting to play with, so
it’s not like a foreign concept but, personally, I never had to deal
With so much pressure to abide by duty to his people, do you think the prince will ever truly be free to be himself? You know, that’s one of the things that I wonder as well, because
Benvolio and Rosaline from the get go–they are kind off battling their
place in society. They don’t really want to be the heirs. They don’t
want to get married, but as much as I want Rosaline, I am the prince and
that’s what I was born to do, and I don’t think Escalus sees a way out
of being the prince, or even wants a way out of being the prince. He
just wants his cake and to eat it too!
The prince initially chooses duty over love. Will he come to regret the decision? Yes. I mean, I think Prince Escalus regrets it while he’s doing it.
It’s not a choice he makes lightly. In that scene, he wants, he thinks
he can have her. He thinks it can happen, and then when he discovered
Romeo’s body, it’s just very clear that, that can’t happen. If Verona
falls, then everyone falls. He sacrifices his happiness for everybody.
What we do know is that the prince is a peacemaker of sorts. Is that something you’ve ever found yourself doing in real life? Yes, that’s definitely a role I play in many relationships.
Prince Escalus often must appear neutral and dutiful to his
people, but could giving up the woman he loves to another man force him
down a dark path and if so how dark should we expect? I feel like he doesn’t understand how dark he’s going to get. When he
comes to town, he would assume that the way it should go is that his
father should help him into this role, and he would take over, and there
wouldn’t be this scandal with Juliet, and everyone is coming at him so
fast. He’s learning to stand up for himself, and so it’s coming out in
different ways, and it’s coming out harsh, and I think he would
definitely continue down that path if he can’t be with Rosaline.
Prince Escalus may choose peace over love, but could his
decision to push Rosaline into marrying Benvolio Montague have
unintentional consequences? Yes, definitely. He can’t choose a side, but there’s not, like, the
feeling goes away, but there’s definitely be some kind of animosity
against Benvolio, who gets to have the woman he loves. So, even though
Prince Escalus is the one deciding it, I don’t feel like he feels that
way about it. It’s like this has to be done, and, unfortunately, I think
he probably will hold some grudges against the circumstances.
The show is going to turn audiences with more than just sexy
accents and Shakespearean eye candy. Are there any surprise hookups for
Prince Escalus? There are some hookups happening all over the place but not for
Prince Escalus. He is caught up in his duty and the drama with Rosaline.
He’s pretty occupied.
While the original Shakespearean text about Romeo and Juliet
had one innocently sexy bedroom scene, what is the most scandalous
thing we can expect to see coming from the show this season? There are definitely some secret affairs, and there are some love scenes.
Women in Shakespearean times were not given very much power
over their lives. Given that this is a modern take, in what ways will we
see Rosaline and the other female characters take charge and assert
themselves? You know, that’s interesting, because we do kind of stick to what the
rules of the society. You know, Rosaline’s not off having affairs and
stuff, like she’s keeping a virtue and all these things, but the women
definitely find a way to manipulate their way around the rules and
figure out what’s going on–and I think manipulate the men that are
already in existence. You definitely see them all standing up for
themselves and being very strong in our story.
We know that political intrigue is commonplace in this era.
Could Prince Escalus be harboring a secret that could destroy his
family? I mean, he definitely has a past in Venice that we don’t really get
to know about, but I mean, they broke Romeo and Juliet apart, so I guess
we’ll just have to wait and see.
If you could play a female character on the show, which character would you love to play? Ooooh…that’s interesting. I think…tough. I mean, they are all wildly
different. Maybe between Lady Capulet and Rosaline. Rosaline has a lot
of fire, but Lady Capulet is so dangerous. She’s strong, and she knows
her powers for sure.
What are your after dark guilty pleasures? I would say drinking wine and going out dancing. My favorite nights is playing old school 90’s R&B.
Be honest. If you had to choose, would you be a Montague or a Capulet? I was told to never take sides. (laughs)