Showrunner Krista Vernoff had no idea that Dr. Lauren Riley, whom deaf actress Shoshannah Stern begins portraying with tonight's episode, was groundbreaking. “I didn’t know until we were on set shooting it,” Vernoff tells Variety, calling the vibe on set “electric.” “And that is the power of Shoshannah: I fell in love with her as a human, as a communicator, as an actress. I thought she was incredible and I wanted to put her on my show. I did not even know it had never been done before. That’s wild to me. And so to learn that on the day that she was working that this was the first deaf doctor who’s ever appeared on network television? How is that possible?” Vernoff met Stern last year at a Television Academy panel on representing disabilities in storytelling. “I don’t know if I’ve ever invented a character because I fell in love with an actor,” Vernoff says of Stern's recurring role, which the actress once dreamed about. ALSO: Stern on joining Grey's: "I think having a deaf doctor on a show like this could change, even save lives."