Shalita Grant Bio: In Her Own Words – Video Exclusive, News, Photos
Shalita Grant is an American actress best known for her stage and television roles. Currently, she stars regularly on the hit TV series NCIS: New Orleans, portraying agent Sonja Percy, and appears in a recurring role on PBS television mini-series Mercy Street.
Shalita Grant Bio: Education and Work in the Theatre
Grant’s early steps into acting were prompted by the opportunity to join a governor’s arts school for which she had to audition. Grant told uInterview, “I didn’t read music. I wasn’t a trained dancer, so I thought maybe I can act.” When she told her mother about the audition monologue she had to do, her mother took the idea at heart and demanded even more, “No, no, no, you should do a scene… You should do a scene and you should play all the characters in the scene.” Grant ended up doing a scene between Mama and Beneatha from A Raisin in the Sun, where the daughter tells her mother that she doesn’t believe in God and her mother slaps her, and she played both characters. Grant also told uInterview, “So I slapped myself and I got into this governor’s school, and the rest is history.” There she started studying acting and eventually got accepted into Juilliard’s drama division, which she at first attended without realizing what high reputation the school has.
Grant graduated from Juilliard in 2010 and soon made her stage debut in the Shakespeare in the Park Revival of The Merchant of Venice, directed by Tony Award winner Daniel Sullivan and starring Academy Award-winning actor Al Pacino as moneylender Shylock. Grant’s other credits with The Public Theatre, producing Shakespeare in the Park, include The Winter’s Tale and Measure for Measure. A few years later, in the spring of 2013, she also make her Broadway debut in the role of the psychic maid Cassandra in Christopher Durang’s comedy play Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The play, inspired by characters and themes from Anton Chekhov’s plays, went on to receive the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013, while Grant’s performance was nominated in the category for Best Featured Actress in a Play.
Shalita Grant on ‘NCIS: New Orleans’
After a few episodic guest roles on hit televisions shows like The Good Wife, Bones, Battle Creek and Melissa & Joey, Grant appeared in a recurring role during the first season of NCIS: New Orleans last year. She portrayed NCIS special agent Sonja Percy, who aids the other investigators in their cases. Her character’s storyline at the end of the first season reveals that she longs to join the NCIS team. Grant finds that her professional development is in some ways paralleled by her character’s story on NCIS, having joined the team after some time. She shared with uInterview, “All of these people have been working together for a full season and then I show up. In terms of preparing for the show, Grant commented that coming in she already felt like she was becoming a part of something that “is so much a part of American culture” that she barely had to do extensive research and preparation because she already knew what this is about.
In terms of preparing for the show, Grant commented that coming in she already felt like she was becoming a part of something that “is so much a part of American culture” that she barely had to do extensive research and preparation because she already knew what this is about. When it comes to her character on NCIS: New Orleans, Grant aims to be a positive role model for young African-American women. She also told uInterview about what viewers can anticipate from agent Sonja Percy in the current season of the show, “Sonja in general is a bit of a badass. She’s tough. She’s kinda in your face. But this season you get to see more levels, more depth.”
Shalita Grant on ‘Mercy Street’
Grant’s most recent television project is the 2016 American period drama series Mercy Street. The TV series is set during the Civil War in Alexandria, Va. The story, inspired by the memoirs and letters of medics working at the Mansion House Hospital, traces the lives of two volunteer nurses working at the same hospital yet on opposing sides of the war. Grant plays the role of Aurelia Johnson who makes her way into Union-occupied Alexandria and get a job as a laundress at the hospital. Her character provides commentary on the political and social situation of African-American people at the time, where only their family ties provided many people with certain freedoms, yet in a context where those ties had been severely reduced by slavery, this proves to be difficult. Grant’s character attempts to find members of her family with the help of a man from the hospital but is taken advantage of.
Shalita Grant: Personal Life
Outside of acting, Grant is involved with People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, a nation-wide organization which has been advocating for social change for more than 35 years now. The organization has educators conducting anti-racism workshops all over the country in an attempt to undo racism and other forms of oppression. Grant also shared with uInterview that “[the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond] believe that because racism is something that has been done it can be undone, but it takes a lot of work.”
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