DCHS grad featured on ‘Grey’s Anatomy’
By Mike Danahey firstname.lastname@example.org @DanaheyECN on Twitter October 31, 2013 1:42PM
Dundee-Crown High School alum Jay Cramer, who was left a quadriplegic following a climbing accident, recently had a speaking role on the popular TV show, "Grey's Anatomy." | Sun-Times Media file
Updated: December 2, 2013 12:12PM
If you are a “Grey’s Anatomy” fan and are from the Elgin area, you might have spotted a familiar face on a recent episode.
“A Map of You,” which first aired Oct. 24, featured Dundee-Crown High School alum Jay Cramer.
Cramer, a quadriplegic, played Mickey Wenschler, a patient with a dark secret who lets doctors map his brain as part of a research project. According to Nielsen Company ratings, the episode of the 10-year-old medical drama drew 8.73 million viewers for its initial prime time showing.
Contacted via the Internet, Cramer stated that it took about two months from audition to the airing of the episode.
“I did the first audition and they asked me in the room if I wanted to come back tomorrow to meet the producers and director. So I knew I did well,” Cramer stated. “The next day, at the callback, I was able to tell the producers and director and casting directors that it was my eight-year anniversary of my accident.”
On Sept. 6, 2005 Cramer had two friends helping him learn to rock climb in Malibu Canyon for part of his “Survivor” tryout process. Cramer wound up cracking his head on a rock and breaking his C5 vertebrae.
Cramer stated that at his callback, “I also told them that the hospital where I did my rehab and where I now work — Rancho Los Amigos — is conducting a study almost exactly like the character, Mickey, on the show. I found out that I got the part an hour and a half later.”
Cramer’s first day working on the “Grey’s” episode involved artists making a prosthetic head of him, then heading to a read-through.
“The cast and crew were extraordinarily nice and made me feel right at home, especially Sara Ramirez, who plays Dr. Callie Torres. I came in to shoot operating room scenes two days later and the next day I shot all of my scenes. So it was over in a week,” Cramer said.
Cramer received his undergraduate degree in theater from the University of Michigan in 1997 and has been pursuing a career as a comic and an actor. His biggest acting appearance prior to this was a small role on a 2010 episode of “Desperate Housewives.”
“(The time since the ‘Grey’s’ episode aired) has been the best week of my life,” Cramer stated. “Facebook has been so much fun to check because you do this to entertain and when you find out you accomplished that goal you receive complete satisfaction.”
This fall, Cramer, his service dog Goliath, and his wife Katy Sullivan made public speaking appearances at a number of Chicago area schools, including Dundee Middle School, which Cramer attended. Cramer’s parents currently live in Elgin.
Cramer first took notice of Sullivan after a physical therapy session. Sullivan was born without the lower part of her legs and growing up wearing artificial limbs. She became an actress, Paralympian, and a spokesperson for a prosthetics company.
Cramer told the crowd at Dundee-Middle, “Don’t wallow in anguish. Do everything you can to move forward with your life.”