Robert I. Mesa as James Chee in Grey's Anatomy.

Grey’s Anatomy is shaking things up for its 17th season. The ABC medical drama has rotated out doctors left and right over the years but one of Grey Sloan’s newest is also going to be a first for the long-running series.

Variety reports that Robert I. Mesa, who plays new Season 17 Grey Sloan intern James Chee, has been bumped up to a recurring character on the medical series. Mesa made his first appearance as James Chee in the current season’s third episode and the character is the first indigenous doctor on Grey’s Anatomy in the show’s 17 seasons.

At the beginning of the season, Chee was introduced as part of the new class of interns at Grey Sloan who were embarking on their careers as doctors during the COVID-19 pandemic. This season has heavily included the coronavirus pandemic into the storyline and the interns give a fresh perspective of what they have to go through while just starting out their medical careers. Chee will be featured in several more episodes this season, though how many is still unknown.

As a Navajo/Soboba actor, Robert I. Mesa performed in Mary Kathryn Nagle’s “Manhatta” in early 2020, which was the first Yale Repertory Theatre production of a play written by a Native playwright. Television credits include the Leonardo DiCaprio-produced The Men Who Built America: The Frontiersman, Robert Rodriguez’s From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series, Gunslingers and N. Scott Momaday: Words From A Bear on PBS’ American Masters.

The news of Robert I. Mesa’s promotion comes just weeks after major character Dr. Andrew DeLuca, played by Giacomo Gianniotti, was killed off in the spring premiere. It’s currently unknown whether or not Grey’s Anatomy will be renewed for a Season 18 as showrunner Krista Vernoff is preparing the finale as not only a season finale but a series finale, just in case. The series is down to just a few remaining characters from the first season, but the ever-changing cast list for Grey’s Anatomy is not uncommon for a show that has been going on for nearly two decades.

The addition of James Chee to the recurring cast could make for some great storylines, and perhaps even some background info on one of Grey Sloan Memorial’s interns. With just seven episodes left of this season, the storyline possibilities are endless, whether or not this is the final season of Grey’s Anatomy. Robert I. Mesa’s performance as James Chee will not be one to miss and it will be interesting to see how he fits in with the rest of the Grey Sloan doctors moving forward.

Grey's Anatomy airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on ABC.

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