LaTanya Richardson Jackson (‘Grey’s Anatomy’): Cancer ‘touches us on such a human level’ [EXCLUSIVE VIDEO]

“I am so happy so many people saw it and were affected in some way by it,” actress LaTanya Richardson Jackson says about her recent arc on “Grey’s Anatomy” as patient Diane Pierce — and mother to the character Dr. Maggie Pierce played by main cast member Kelly McCreary. “It touches us on such a human level because thematically what it dealt with and how it dealt with [it], so many of us are going through or have gone through or have been touched by it,” Richardson Jackson explains in her interview with Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video above) before adding, “This cancer epidemic in the world is the scourge of our existence.”

Billed simply as LaTanya Richardson for most of her career, she now uses LaTanya Richardson Jackson as her stage name, alluding to her marriage to Oscar nominee Samuel L. Jackson, which is at 36 years and counting. Despite sharing a profession, the couple has not appeared on screen together since the film “Mother and Child” in 2009. Richardson Jackson explains, “We used to work together all the time when we were younger, when we were really going up and we were sort of at the same level. But since his star rose so high and he became a supernova, we have not found ourselves able to work together.” She laments about the last time that they shared a set, “He had such a huge trailer and so many amenities that were not afforded to me. I said, ‘Oh well, I guess we won’t be doing this again because I can’t take it.’ But I think in the future, I would love to do a play with him.”

Crediting theater as her “first love,” Richardson Jackson enjoyed the first major nomination of her career in 2014 when she was nominated at the Tony Awards for her lead role in the “A Raisin in the Sun” play revival on Broadway. “That’s written on the résumé of my soul,” she gushes, noting, “That really came out of left field because I was replacing [aging Tony winner and Oscar nominee Diahann Carroll] during a very deep rehearsal period that was so quick that [the premiere was only two months after being cast] that it never would have crossed my mind. Everybody who does theater though […] Tonys — that’s bigger to us than any Oscar.”

For the Emmys this year, Richardson Jackson has submitted her third and final “Grey’s Anatomy” performance for Best Drama Guest Actress consideration –the episode “Be Still, My Soul” directed by star Ellen Pompeo in her directorial debut. Although her character ultimately succumbs to the cancer, Richardson Jackson believes that “there’s hope for Diane to return in some incarnation” for a future season. She elaborates, “I think that there’s a lot there to be mined. I just keep trying to insert myself into it again because I had such a great time there and I was very sad to have to die and leave.” Richardson Jackson even admits to being “a fan of the show — from the very beginning,” which made her casting in the 13th season that much sweeter.

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Related: Ellen Pompeo directs ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ episode about mommy issues

Related: Watch our many interviews with 2017 Emmy contenders

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