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Meet the Nonbinary Actor Playing the Newest Doctor on Grey’s Anatomy

E.R. Fightmaster
Screenshot/Hulu

As Grey’s Anatomy kicks its 18th season into gear – yes, it’s still going folks – The O.G. Shonda Rhimes drama is adding a new character into the mix, at least on a recurring basis.

Dr. Kai Bartley is a non-binary neuroscientist working on Parkinson’s research with Dr. Amelia Shepherd, and we’ve learned that we’ll be seeing more of them in the upcoming episodes after two appearances thus far in the season. Dr. Bartley is played by non-binary actor E.R. Fightmaster, which is just the perfect stage name for an actor in a medical series. 

Fightmaster has appeared mostly in comedic roles on stage and in front of the camera, most notably in the Hulu series Shrill developed by and starring Saturday Night Live’s Aidy Bryant. We’ll run down everything we know about the newest doc in town.

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by E.R. Fightmaster (@genderless_gap_ad)

Per IMDb, Fightmaster is “a graduate of DePaul University with a degree in Women and Gender Studies… A well-trained improv performer… [and] an alumni of The Second City Chicago and the Second City Touring company.” They originate from Cincinnati, Ohio, and have performed on stages from here to the Netherlands. 

Fightmaster doesn’t have a ton of credits under their belt yet, but many stars went on to build their resumes with roles on medical dramas, so expect to see more of them on your screen soon. As for what they’ve done so far, they’ve starred in the comedy short Yew Boys (2019), the short Ancient Methods (2020), written and starred in the short Pathetic Woman (2020), and guest appeared in the Showtime series Work in Progress.

In 2019, they were included in the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase Cast, allowing them to perform in front of some of the entertainment industry’s biggest executives and talent managers.

We can’t say from personal experience what their personality is like, but if it’s anything like their social media handle – @genderless_gap_ad on IG, @genderlessgapad on Twitter – we like it already!

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by E.R. Fightmaster (@genderless_gap_ad)

Fightmaster describes themselves as “a woman and queer-strength supremacist,” owing their favorite pastime as fitness with friends. “Not only do I believe we are naturally and mentally stronger, I believe it’s our duty to help each other get stronger. I think my attitude towards fitness is contagious because my friends have been asking for workout plans,” they told The Cut in May (which, by the way, is accompanied with like, the best photo shoot possible.)

They came out as non-binary publicly within the last two years — which led to a seamless transition from their character in Shrill, Emily, being referred to as they/them in the show’s most recent season as opposed to she/her previously without fanfare, but unfortunately, that did not reflect the actor’s professional life during that time.

“You change your pronouns and for a year, people give you shit about it, or tell you how hard it is to remember. That didn’t happen on the show, which is a dream,” Fightmaster told IndieWire.

Fightmaster also told The Cut, “A thing I’ve been thinking about, too often, is I want to play a gentleman from the 1920s,” because they’re “a big history buff” – but they have a catch: “I want to do it in a format where the whole show is genderless. We just get to have the outfits.”

Based on their Twitter, they’re a bit of a WNBA fan…

And they also make music! Fightmaster is one-half of the music duo TWIN, which just released a single entitled “Santa Clarita” on October 15. What an exciting month they’re having!

 
 
 
 
 
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A post shared by TWIN (@twin_music_)

In Grey’s, Fightmaster’s character is “dedicated to their craft and extremely talented at what they do,” ABC reveals. They are “Confident as hell and able to make even the most detailed and mundane science seem exciting and cool,” and viewers can expect to see “Kai [Bartley] and Amelia [Shepherd] bond over their shared love of medicine and the brain.”

(Do we smell romance?)

Grey’s loyalists will be able to watch Kai in most of the episodes between now and December, when the show goes on midseason break.

Beyond that? We’ll have to watch and find out!

Grey’s Anatomy returns November 11 and airs Thursdays at 9pm EST/8pm CST.

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