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BILL VAUGHAN’S TASTY CLIPS: Shalita Grant finds success in ‘NCIS: New Orleans’

Things are coming to a head quickly on CBS’ hit series “NCIS: New Orleans,” and Shalita Grant, who portrays the feisty and compassionate Special Agent Sonja Percy, has become a fan favorite.

The spin-off, in its third season, regularly ranks in the top 10 of network shows with the largest African-American audience. Grant believes that is due to the culturally rich locale and the diverse inclusivity in the main cast of Scott Bakula and Vanessa Ferlito with CCH Pounder and Daryl Chill Mitchell.

The show’s following seems to be in direct contrast to the show’s low profile on social media — even with sparks flying between her character and popular co-star Lucas Black (“The Fast and the Furious: Tokyo Drift”).

Grant offered an explanation.

“The majority of our viewers skew older,” she said. “They’re not fan-girling on line. It’s also a procedural. You get these moments between the characters but for the most part we’re solving cases. It’s not a serial.”

In the finale, airing May 16, expect a wrap of up of the arc starring Stephen Weber as a city leader with criminal intentions.

“That’s what I love about this show,” Grant. “It does kind of stick close to New Orleans culture. There is a history of corrupt politicians there unlike any other city. It’s really special. Every month it seems like somebody’s in some[thing].”

“Our mayor is insane,” she said. “He kills. He locked me up. He’s just a horrible person. Nobody’s safe from that kind of darkness. There’s a bit of a shift in a couple of characters after this.”

Grant’s first featured role was as the slave Aurelia Johnson in the inaugural season of PBS’ civil war drama “Mercy Street,” which took place and was shot in Virginia where she was schooled as a kid.

“I was raised Nation of Islam so I have a strong Black Nationalist upbringing,” she said. “As a kid, I’m hearing one thing at home and I’m going to school and going what in the what? But I’m being graded on it. It turns your head a little bit.”

“Then getting older and understanding what those white and black placards represented. All over Petersburg are these Civil War memorials and trails. I think it’s important for people to know their history and to know what happened, but I also think that America has a particular problem with the memorialization of white supremacy.”

“When you celebrate people who promoted the subjugation, oppression, murder and denigration of a people, that has its effect and it permeates systems even in the present. If you look at Germany there’s no Adolf Hitler highway. There’s no school named after Nazis, but in America we do that all the time. Robert E. Lee Elementary School. Why?”

During her hiatus this summer, Grant is returning to the stage next month to do New York City’s Shakespeare in the Park.

“It’s crazy because my first job out of Julliard was in the park with Al Pacino and Jesse Tyler Ferguson,” Grant said. “I was just the maid or I was flying birds chilling out in the back. Now, I’m coming back to this amazing venue and I’m going to be Hermia in ‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream.’”

The self-described geek, who hasn’t lived with a television in the house for years, quotes The Bard almost every day but swore me to secrecy regarding the play’s esteemed leads. Let’s just say get your tickets now.

CLIPPETTES: Dave Chappelle is returning to the big screen next September in the remake of “A Star is Born” supporting Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper, Andrew Dice Clay and Sam Elliott …

The Mint is hosting Mali Music Live on May 12; while Wale with Tdot Illdude and Phil Ade hold it down at The Novo DTLA

The Own Light Tour featuring Minneapolis MC Brother Ali, the sensational Sa-Roc and DJ’s Last Word and Sol Messiah lands in Orange County, May 17 at The Observatory …

LONG LIVE THE QUEEN: Adele Givens has been relatively missing in action for several years while dealing with a family illness. The former host of “Russell Simmons’ Def Comedy Jam” and reigning queen of comedy showed no rust as she made a triumphant return to the stage (at Columbia, South Carolina’s famed Comedy House).

She riffed on everything from being old school (“Yeah, I still have an AOL account. It ain’t broke!”), and dealing with dental problems to the importance for black folks to check the organ donor box.

On the horizon are a couple of huge projects. This weekend, Givens will return to her hometown Chicago to tape her first special for Netflix at the DuSable Museum. Afterwards, she moves on to a movie she’s writing and directing called “Scankhose” about the Blaxploitation of the reality TV world to feature Mike Epps!

TC ON TV: May 12 – “Master of None” (Netflix): Aziz Ansari’s acclaimed comic series returns for season two. “Celebrity Undercover Boss” (CBS): Darius Rucker

May 14 – “Diva Day Divathon” (Fuse): It’s a Big Freedia marathon mixed with videos from Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and the like. “United Shades of America” (TNT): Native “Americans” “Mike Tyson Mysteries” (Adult Swim): Season three of the wackiest 15-minute program on TV begins.

May 16 – “Tracy Morgan: Staying Alive” (Netflix): In his first special since his serious car accident, the comic riffs about life in a coma, his second marriage and his family’s dark side. “American Epic” (PBS): This three-part documentary series journeys back in time to the “Big Bang” of modern popular music.

May 17 – “Hollywood Medium” (E!): Tyler Henry returns to deliver astounding readings to celebrities looking for advice, connection and closure. Among those appearing this season are Bobby Brown, Eva Longoria, Ru Paul, T-Boz, Jaleel White, Lil’ Kim and more.

May 18 – “Scandal” (ABC): The sixth season ends with back-to-back episodes directed by Sallie Richardson-Whitfield and Fitz himself, Tony Goldwyn respectively.

TASTY QUIP: “I want to find some peace, ’cause people usually find that peace in a horrible time. Why does that have to be? Maybe I can find God without being in shambles. Maybe I can reach a higher plane spiritually without being in a near-death experience.” – CHRIS ROCK to Rolling Stone. Tickets are now on sale for his Total Blackout Tour, which hits the Dolby Theatre Nov. 30 and Dec. 1.

As featured in the Los Angeles Wave and Independent, Tasty Clips is one of the leading entertainment newspaper columns on the West Coast, serving nearly one million weekly readers. To reach Bill Vaughan, send email to tastyclips@yahoo.com or via Twitter @tastyclips.

 

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