'No Idea Who She Was' (Exclusive): Shonda Rhimes Recalls Taylor Swift's Barefoot Performance in Her Grey's Anatomy Office

A few years before Taylor Swift reached superstar status, Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes got to meet the now-Grammy-winning artist in the most unassuming of ways

Published Time: 19.04.2024 - 22:31:05 Modified Time: 19.04.2024 - 22:31:05

A few years before Taylor Swift reached superstar status, Grey's Anatomy creator Shonda Rhimes got to meet the now-Grammy-winning artist in the most unassuming of ways.

In PEOPLE’s new Grey’s Anatomy special edition, on newsstands Friday, April 19, Rhimes, 54, recalls meeting Swift, 34, for the first time and watching her perform her 2008 hit, “Love Story” in her office on set.

“I remember she was an interesting artist. It's so funny because back then, she showed up in my office with bare feet. She went off and played ‘Love Story’ and was like, ‘I really love your show,’” Rhimes shares. “I had no idea who she was. I was like, ‘This kid's adorable. Like, I love this song. The song was really good.’” 

“We were lucky enough to meet these people sometimes near the beginning of their career,” executive producer Betsey Beers adds in PEOPLE's special edition issue. “I mean, Taylor Swift came into my office with a guitar… one of the loveliest people I'd ever met, and started playing this song. And Taylor Swift has done incredibly well.”

Rhimes went on to praise Swift’s cultural impact, explaining, “Over the years, she's produced so much music. Really produced so much music. And it is kind of the voice of what that generation is in people's heads.” 

“You know what I mean? How they're perpetually like the same emotional age somehow. And in a good way,” she adds. “So I thought, yeah, her songs do become woven in because honestly, that's what everybody's listening to, but also they feel good and they work.”

In addition to 14 Grammy wins and her Eras Tour becoming the highest-grossing concert tour of all time, Swift’s music has also been featured on Grey’s Anatomy, with her song “White House” included early in season 5.

In a throwback video, the artist — who released her surprise double album The Tortured Poets Department on April 19 — can be seen reacting to the scene -

with her song. In the clip, a young Swift can be seen excitedly jumping up and down and holding her hands over her mouth.

Swift later described having her song featured on the ABC medical drama series as “basically the best thing ever” in a clip resurfaced on TikTok.

“I love Grey's Anatomy because I think it's the best example of dry, sarcastic humor I've ever seen mixed with drama, because in life there's humor and there's drama,” she said. “You know, when you're watching comedies, it's like, that's awesome and makes you laugh and it’s light, but you know, when a breakup happens on a comedy — and they're all just laughing about it all the time, and they don't ever feel it — it's hard for me to buy that because in real life, like you laugh about some things, but you cry about other things.” 

She added: “So I think that Grey's Anatomy has a great balance of real emotions slash dry humor.”

In fact, Swift loved Grey's Anatomy so much that one of her cats is named after Ellen Pompeo's titular character, Meredith Grey. She also tapped Pompeo, 54, to be in her star-studded "Bad Blood" music video in 2015.

The connection to Swift wasn't lost on Pompeo when she was asked by PEOPLE why Grey's Anatomy has succeeded for so long.

"That’s easy! First, Shonda Rhimes is a great writer. Second, Taylor Swift named her cat after Meredith Grey!" she said. "Just kidding, it is because of our awesome fans"

For more on Grey’s Anatomy and its cast, pick up PEOPLE's special issue, out Friday.

PEOPLE's Grey’s Anatomy special edition issue hits newsstands Friday, April 19. The magazine retails for $14.99. Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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