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Krista Vernoff was relieved when Fox rejected her pilot starring Florence Pugh as a younger, slightly fictionalized version of herself

  • The pilot, titled Studio City, would've starred the then-little-known British actress as the ambitious daughter of a profoundly alcoholic mom and a cocaine dealer-to-the-stars dad. It was the 10th pilot Vernoff had written and sold that never aired. But as a The Hollywood Reporter profile notes, Vernoff mining her own sordid past -- she was 11 when she learned her dad was a drug dealer -- was agony. "I had to walk off set every day and cry," says Vernoff, who found herself back in therapy, unpacking years of trauma just to eke out an hour of television. Vernoff went on to become showrunner of Grey's Anatomy and Station 19  and now is Shonda Rhimes' top lieutenant. And her 11th pilot, ABC's Rebel, is set to become Vernoff's first to air, premiering April 8. Before Rebel, Vernoff wondered if she would always end up producing other peoples' shows. Vernoff has even approached Rebel as if it was somebody else's show.  "I was going to make it great. I've always made other people's shows great. But it wasn't my baby," says Vernoff. "Or I didn't feel like it was my baby because I've been Charlie Brown with that football too many times." As The Hollywood Reporter's Lacey Rose adds: "She has managed to work facets of her own extraordinary, complicated life into this show, too, but this time, on the advice of her husband and producing partner, Alexandre Schmitt, whom Vernoff met while making Studio City, it is at a decidedly healthier distance." Vernoff, who originally worked on Grey's Anatomy's Seasons 1 through 7, also compared her relationship to Rhimes to Izzie Stevens' and Cristina Yang. In fact, she identified with Katherine Heigl's character and struggled to write for Sandra Oh's Yang, whom she felt Rhimes most identified. “It’s funny because Shonda and I had a relationship not dissimilar to Izzie and Cristina, where my feelings were always hurt by her and she was always irritated with me,” said Vernoff. “But anytime anyone came at us, or when I went through my divorce or had my baby, Shonda always, always had my back.

    TOPICS: Krista Vernoff, ABC, Grey's Anatomy, Rebel, Station 19, Shonda Rhimes