Crime shows almost always guarantee a dead body on screen, but “NCIS: New Orleans” alum Shalita Grant wants to remind everyone that they’re actually live actors.
As NCIS Special Agent Sonja Percy, Grant definitely interacted with “dead” bodies on the show all the time. And except in the cases where a body is really “jacked up” and a mold is used, live actors are just lying there pretending to be dead.
Grant sat down with YouTube entertainment channel BUILD Series in 2017 to talk about her time on “NCIS: New Orleans.” The show opened up with a clip of Grant as Percy, inspecting a bloodied-up body pulled out of a body of water. Host Charles Thorp commended the makeup that made the body look so real and started a discussion about working with “dead” people on “NCIS.”
‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Alum Shalita Grant on Helping ‘Cold Cadavers’
“This is a story about how you never know who you’re talking to, so just be a kind human,” Grant said. “It’s when they’re on the table as cadavers — they’ve alive. Most of the time, we have humans, but sometimes we have molds if they’re, like, really jacked up.”
When the cadavers are real people, the “NCIS: New Orleans” alum goes out of her way to help them feel more comfortable.
“But it’s cold in there, and they’re naked. They have on flesh undies, and then they’re naked,” Grant continued. “So I always make it a habit to just be like, ‘Hi, I’m Shalita, I’ll be talking over your naked body. Are you cold, can I get you something?'”
The “NCIS” alum’s kindness towards these actors hasn’t gone unnoticed. One of them even complimented her to her agent in a coffee shop (not knowing he was Grant’s agent).
“He saw [my agent] in a coffee shop and he’s like, ‘I just did “NCIS,” I was a dead body… I met this one cast member who was really really nice,'” Grant said. “And he remembered my name. My agent called me and was like, ‘You know, people are saying nice things about you.”
Why Shalita Grant Left the Hit Crime Show
Grant played NCIS Special Agent Sonja Percy from the first season of the show until the fourth. Onscreen, her character resigned to become an FBI Special Agent. But according to an interview with The Los Angeles Times, Grant said the “NCIS: New Orleans” work climate was “so toxic.”
“In theater, it’s us against the problem. We all come into the room knowing there are going to be problems, and we all know that we’re going to solve them together. In TV, the relationship to problems is, ‘Whose fault is it? Heads will roll!’ Nobody wants their head to roll. It takes forever for people to solve problems because nobody wants to take responsibility.”
Grant also mentioned several problems “involving race, gender and ‘stupid … actor [expletive].'” Showrunner Brad Kern was even replaced in 2018 because he was accused of making the work environment “hostile.”