Shalita Grant On Joining ‘NCIS: New Orleans,’ Three Black Actresses Taking Home Emmys [VIDEO EXCLUSIVE]
Shalita Grant joined the cast of NCIS: New Orleans at the end of its first season as ATF Agent Sonja Percy, and has returned to the character for the show’s sophomore season, which now sees Percy as part of the main crew.
Shalita Grant On NCIS: New Orleans
Sonja, who is working with NCIS as a hacker, is a probie – which means she needs to keep proving her worth for the team in order to stick around. “There’s a lot of probie pranks and a lot of testing her on all the terminology ‘cause now she’s NCIS,” Grant told uInterview in an exclusive interview. “The relationships are getting deeper, but Sonja in general is a bit of a badass, she’s tough and kinda in your face.”
While Grant can’t hack a computer quite like Sonja, she’s just as proficient surprising people with her strength. “I’m very strong. I do pull-ups and can push-up with the best of them,” Grant said. “We get some crew member that doesn’t know and he’ll be like, ‘Yeah so you know push-ups,’ and I’ll get down there and out push-up him and like clap on him. I mean it’s bad. Then I get up and I look pretty and I like do my job. So in that way, we are a lot alike.”
Grant also admitted to being the good-humored victim of newbie ribbing and pranking on the NCIS set. However, while she might struggle with some of the scripted jargon now and again, she claims that she’s far from being the only one who gets tongue-tied.
“If you were privy to any of the blooper reels, you’ll see that all of us stumble when it comes to most of those words, all the terminology. It’s hilarious,” Grant revealed. “Those are considered hard days, when you have to spit that stuff out and make it seem like, you know, you’ve been saying this for years.”
Grant, a black actress who is involved with anti-racism organization A People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, was thrilled to see three black women – Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder), Uzo Aduba (Orange is the New Black) and Regina King (American Crime) – pick up acting awards at the 2015 Emmys. But, Grant noted that the victory doesn’t come without a note of sourness, as it has taken so long to get to this point.
“We’ve been on television since television, but the roles that we were allowed to have were not very indicative of our experiences,” Grant explained. “Most of them were, or seemed, racist, and they were racist tropes or stereotypes. And how that affects the black community and how it affects a white community as well is damaging.”
As for Davis’ speech, Grant says she was “floored” by it. “I was floored by what Viola Davis said,” admitted Grant. “A lot of people of color understand that intrinsically, but to say that on such a large platform, it was something that needed to be said. I’m interested to see what next year’s Emmys are going to look like.”
Grant could be looking at the possibility of an Emmy herself at next year’s Emmys, as she’s set to star in PBS Civil War miniseries Mercy Street, which will premiere in early 2016. In Mercy Street, Grant plays a slave who manumits herself and finds a job in Virginia.
NCIS: New Orleans airs on CBS Tuesdays at 9/8c. Mercy Street is slated to premiere on PBS Sunday, Jan. 17., following an episode of Downton Abbey.
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