With Grey's Anatomy renewed through season 17, its stars are reflecting on how the show has changed their lives

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May 16, 2019 10:00 AM

From surprising exits to welcome additions, the Grey’s Anatomy family has evolved immensely since the series made its prime-time debut in 2005.

Now in its 15th season, Shonda Rhimes’ beloved ABC show made history this year, becoming the longest-running medical drama in American TV history — surpassing ER with 332 episodes!

But there’s even more to come, as the show was just renewed through season 17 and will live on for at least two more years.

RELATED: The Cast of Grey’s Anatomy: Then and Now

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, some fan favorites reminisce about the show’s impact on both their professional and personal lives.

Ellen Pompeo

Ellen Pompeo
Jean Baptiste Lacroix/WireImage

“So much has happened here,” says Pompeo, 49, who has portrayed Dr. Meredith Grey since season 1. “I’ve had three children. I’ve gotten married. It’s a huge chunk of my life. I’ve learned so much. It’s just been an amazing evolution.”

  • For more from the Grey’s Anatomy cast, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday

Caterina Scorsone

Caterina Scorsone
Rich Polk/Getty

“One of the most significant parts for me is not that we managed to break records, but that, culturally, this show has become such an integral part of people’s lives,” says the 37-year-old actress, who plays Dr. Amelia Shepherd.

Jesse Williams

Jesse Williams
Getty

“I wasn’t an actor before this; I was a teacher,” says Williams, 37, who portrays Dr. Jackson Avery. “Grey’s has been my headquarters, and I’ve made a name for myself. Being here for 10 years, it’s something I’m really grateful for.”

RELATED: Ellen Pompeo Says She May Leave Grey’s Anatomy in 2020: ‘I’m Definitely Looking for a Change’

James Pickens Jr. 

James Pickens Jr.
Matt Baron/Rex/Shutterstock

As an original cast member, Pickens, 66, says it’s “hard to put into words” what Grey’s has meant to him all the years. “It’s been a blast to be able to be a part of something so iconic,” says Pickens, who stars as Dr. Richard Webber.

Chandra Wilson

Chandra Wilson
Paul Archuleta/Getty

Oh, Bailey! Wilson, 49, who has portrayed Dr. Bailey since season 1, says she is “proud” of what the show has done. “I love being a part of this history,” she says. “I truly enjoy Bailey’s journey.”

RELATED: Sandra Oh Reveals Why She Won’t Ever Return to Grey’s Anatomy

Justin Chambers

Justin Chambers
David Crotty/Patrick McMullan/GEtty

“I’ve learned to be present because there’s waves of enjoyment and waves of exhaustion,” says Chambers, 48, who plays Dr. Alex Karev. “It’s rewarding to have been able to grow as an actor.”

The Grey’s Anatomy season 15 finale airs Thursday at 8 p.m. ET on ABC.

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