‘9-1-1’: Angela Bassett Relishes Being Able to Portray the Strong and Vulnerable Sides of Athena Grant

by Kati Michelle

When it comes to an actor choosing which role to take on, a lot of different factors may come into play. Contract length and finances usually have something to do with it, but oftentimes, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. The most beloved actors also have to think about what kind of story that the project tells. The “Law & Order” franchise, for example, aims to raise awareness for victims of domestic violence and sexual abuse. And that’s why they’ve garnered such a dedicated fanbase over at NBC. On the Fox side of things, we’ve got “9-1-1” which tells the stories of police and other first responders. We don’t just get a glimpse into the front lines, though. We also get to experience their personal lives.

Angela Bassett joined the “9-1-1” project early on as Athena Grant. She quickly rose as a fan favorite because of the way her character “keeps it real.” She’s a strong leading lady, but she has her moments of weakness just like anybody else. This three-dimensionality drew Angela Bassett to the show in the first place and is largely the reason she’s stuck around since. In the past, she told Deadline how she relishes being able to portray both the strong and vulnerable sides of the character.

This is How Bassett’s Athena Grant Character on ‘9-1-1’ Compares to Roles She’s Taken in the Past

Angela Bassett says she’s “always been attracted to strong, resilient female characters” and that’s the reason she’s “thrilled to have this opportunity to portray [Athena Grant] weekly.” She notates “the complexity of who she is” and “her humanity” as selling points.

If you take a look at Bassett’s career, you can see a pattern here. She worked her way up from taking small roles on “The Cosby Show” to appearing as the leading lady (and icon) Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do With It?” Her Athena Grant character is just one of the many empowering roles she’s put her soul into over the years.

“A lot of times, I’ve been able to play strong, ‘boss lady‘ type characters and I’m filling those shoes, but you just imagine that there’s something more going on. To really unpack it, open it up, and see her going through these different situations and issues, I’m really excited by that opportunity. It’s really fulfilling.”

Making History

Bassett’s portrayal of Tina Turner, though controversial, ended up earning her a place in Hollywood’s history books. She took home an Academy Award nomination and a Golden Globe for the project, which is impressive enough. But that’s not why it’s so special. Bassett actually turned out to be the first African-American to win the award. If we’re talking football, that makes her a playmaker. Otherwise, “legend” will suffice.