Almost every actor will tell you, show business can be tough. That was certainly the case for “NCIS: New Orleans” alum Shalita Grant. Grant began her career in theater in New York City and she quickly found success. In 2013, she was nominated for a Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Play for her performance as Cassandra in the comedy Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. The play won the Tony for Best Play as well as the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Play. Additionally, Grant won the 2013 Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway Debut.
Unfortunately, none of that meant anything when she moved to Los Angeles and started auditioning for film and television roles. During an interview in 2017, Grant talked about her first year in Los Angeles before landing her role on “NCIS: New Orleans.”
“Backing up, I was in New York and had some great success. And I moved out to L.A. and was there for a year and had the worst year of my career,” said Grant. “I auditioned for something like 56 or 57 projects but that’s like over 100 auditions.”
The crazy part of it all is that Los Angeles casting directors were totally unphased by Grant’s Tony Award nomination.
“They were like, ‘Tony who?'” joked Grant. “They were like, ‘We don’t know them.'”
Grant also studied acting at Julliard and even that didn’t impress Los Angeles casting directors.
‘They were like, ‘Julliard? Do you do regular acting?”
Grant said that, after a year of being turned down, the rejection started to get to her.
“It was rough. Testing, getting to the end and them being like, ‘We want her,” or “We don’t want either of you, we’re going to pick somebody completely different. It was a lot. It was a lot of rejection.”
The ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Actress Hilariously Lied To Get A Bartending Job
After a year of rejection, Grant ran out of money. She decided that she needed to find another job to support herself while she continued to audition.
“I ran out of money and went online and was like, ‘What can I do to make some cash?’ So I taught myself how to bartend online,” said Grant.
However, she had to do a little “acting” in order to sell herself as a bartender and get a job.
“And I made up a resume full of lies of all these New York restaurants that were closed. All of a sudden, I had three years bartending experience,” said Grant with a laugh. “And I was peddling this lie around town and somebody hired me.”
However, the employment didn’t last long.
“I was hired and then fired two weeks later,” laughed Grant. “It was a dive bar, I was aiming low. And they hired me and they were like, ‘She don’t know what she’s doing.'”
Luckily, very shortly after her bartending job, Grant landed her role as Special Agent Sonja Percy on ‘NCIS: New Orleans”.