Thursday, April 18

Inventing Anna: A Guide to the Familiar Faces from Shondaland

There’s no denying that television auteur and mega producer Shonda Rhimes has her own cinematic universe. From Grey’s Anatomy to Scandal to How To Get Away with Murder, Rhimes is behind franchises that have seen hundreds if not thousands of actors pass through their gates. Her production company is called Shondaland for a reason; it’s a whole world unto itself.

As such, it’s no surprise that many familiar faces pop up in Rhimes’s latest venture, Inventing Anna, now streaming on Netflix. The series, which Vanity Fair calls a true crime-style Bold Type, follows the exploits of Anna Delvey, the Russian-born would be socialite who conned Manhattan’s wealthy elite and made them believe she was a German heiress—stealing from them all the while. 

To capture the rise and fall of Delvey, played by Julia Garner, Rhymes has employed some old friends from previous Shondaland productions. Here’s a handy little guide to who made the cut.  

Kate Burton (Nora)

Real Shondaland fans will instantly recognize Kate Burton as Nora, an Upper East Side lady who lunches and one of the first to fall prey to the woman calling herself Miss Delvey. Burton burst into the Shonda-sphere in 2005 as Dr. Ellis Grey, the brilliant and troubled mother to Grey’s Anatomy namesake Meredith Grey (Ellen Pompeo), and still makes the occasional guest appearance on ABC’s long-running soap. She also starred as conservative Vice President turned political talk show host Sally Langston on Rhimes’s other long-running ABC show, Scandal, wreaking havoc in Washington from 2012 to 2018. Speaking of female vice presidents: Burton also had a recurring role as Barbara Hallowes, the miserable U.S. senator from Nevada, on Veep, also featuring none other than Inventing Anna star Anna Chlumsky.

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Jeff Perry (Lou)

Viewers might know Jeff Perry—who plays Vivian’s colleague Lou in Inventing Anna—as Meredith’s absentee father Thatcher Grey, popping in rather infrequently on Grey’s Anatomy from 2006 to 2019. But Perry’s most significant role in the Shonda-verse was as Cyrus Beene, the duplicitous, manipulative political animal and chief of staff to Fitz (Tony Goldwyn) on Scandal, from 2012 to 2018. If only Ellen Pompeo guest starred as a wealthy divorcee whom Delvey takes financial advantage of, Inventing Anna could have been a veritable Grey family reunion.

Katie Lowes (Rachel)

There’s a healthy dose of Scandal making their way from D.C. to NYC to get scammed by Anna Delvey. Katie Lowes, who portrayed gladiator Quinn Perkins on Scandal, stars on Inventing Anna as Rachel Deloache-Williams, the former Vanity Fair photo editor and close gal pal of Delvey’s, who accompanies the fake German heiress on a trip to Morocco with devastating consequences. Scandal was not Lowe’s first foray into Shondaland, as she played the memorable role of “Blood Donor” in an episode of Grey’s Anatomy in 2011. She must have made an impression: she started playing Quinn Perkins in 2012, and went on to star in Rhimes’s short lived web-series Scandal spinoff, Scandal: Gladiator Wanted. Shondaland, it seems, is a lot like the Olive Garden: once you’re in, you’re family.

Anna Deveare Smith (Maud)

Manhattan magazine’s “Scriberia” is chock full of former Shondaland stars, like playwright and actress Anna Deveare Smith. Smith starred on Shonda’s short-lived ABC legal drama For The People on ABC, where she played U.S. District Court Clerk Tina Krissman. While the veteran actress hasn’t appeared on any other of Rhimes’s shows, she’s an accomplished playwright whose 1992 play Twilight: Los Angeles was recently revived Off-Broadway. Like her Inventing Anna journalist Maud, Smith clearly has the gift for the pen.

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Ben Rappaport (Billy McFarland)

Anna Delvey isn’t the only scammer featured on Inventing Anna. Ben Rappaport plays Fyre Festival fraudster Billy McFarland, lending Delvey a crash pad when she’s in between luxury hotels. Rappaport has previous ties to both Rhimes and Garner, starring as Seth Oliver on For The People and recurring as Josh Silverberg on Garner’s Emmy-winning Netflix series Ozark. Between Ozark and Inventing Anna, Garner and Rappaport must have a great rapport. 

Marika Dominczyk (Talia)

Dominczyk is only featured in one episode of Inventing Anna, but makes quite the impression as Talia, a self-made millionairess who briefly takes Anna under her wing. Shondaland fans will fondly remember Dominczyk from her year-long stint on Grey’s Anatomy as Dr. Eliza Minnick, love interest to chief of pediatrics Dr. Arizona Robbins (Jessica Capshaw). Although Eliza and Arizona were not meant to be together, Dominczyk found real life love in Shondaland: she’s married to Scott Foley who famously played B16 operative Jake Ballard on Scandal. In Shondaland, love conquers all. 

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