NCIS: New Orleans Vet Shalita Grant Talks Toxic Culture That Made Her Leave The Show

ncis new orleans sonja percy shalita grant cbs
(Image credit: CBS)

Shalita Grant was a key member of the NCIS: New Orleans cast throughout the first four seasons before ultimately leaving ahead of the Season 4 finale. The hit CBS series is still going strong as it looks ahead to Season 7 despite some additional cast changes and the shortened sixth season. Now, however, the actress has revealed that the toxic culture behind-the-scenes at NCIS: New Orleans during her time there made her leave the series.

The actress came to NCIS: NOLA with a strong background in theater, with a Tony-nomination, a Broadway run, and more than one Shakespeare production to her name by the time she joined the NCIS universe in 2015. Speaking with the Los Angeles Times, Shalita Grant revealed that her theater background is part of what led her to realize the toxicity of her work environment on NCIS: New Orleans:

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.

According to Shalita Grant, an unwillingness to take responsibility made working on NCIS: New Orleans difficult for her. Although Grant didn't name any names in her comments about the show, NCIS: New Orleans showrunner Brad Kern was under investigation for workplace misconduct during Season 4 of the show, which was the same season that saw Grant depart. Kern was ultimately suspended and then finally fired from CBS.

Although Shalita Grant's character of Sonja Percy was written out alive, well, and chasing a new career opportunity with no reason why she couldn't drop in on her former coworkers, Grant has not returned to NCIS: New Orleans. Instead, she landed new roles, joining the third and final season of The Santa Clarita Diet and the third season of Search Party.

Shalita Grant also revealed that she considered leaving NCIS: NOLA after Season 3, but it was a Shakespearean role that convinced her to return for Season 4:

I was playing Hermia. And one of the lines about Hermia is, ‘Though she be but little, she is fierce,’ and I have that quote on my vanity. I came back and I was like, ‘I ain’t taking this ... no more.’ I found joy, and my standards are higher. I am letting you know now, if you don’t want me here, if I’m just being tolerated, I’m leaving. Because I want to go where I’m celebrated, not where I’m tolerated.

Hermia is a character from Shakespeare's A Midsummer Night's Dream, and while she couldn't be much more different from Sonja Percy, Hermia's fierceness helped Shalita Grant stick with NCIS: New Orleans for one more season. Grant played Hermia in a 2019 production of A Midsummer Night's Dream in New York, and the experience clearly paid off even after she moved on from Shakespeare.

If you want to relive Shalita Grant's time as Sonja Percy, you can find all four of her seasons of NCIS: New Orleans streaming on CBS All Access now. For the projects she landed since leaving NCIS: NOLA, you can find Santa Clarita Diet streaming on Netflix and Search Party Season 3 on HBO Max. If you're in the market for some upcoming TV options, swing by our 2020 summer TV premiere schedule and our 2020 fall TV premiere guide!

Laura Hurley
Senior Content Producer

Laura turned a lifelong love of television into a valid reason to write and think about TV on a daily basis. She's not a doctor, lawyer, or detective, but watches a lot of them in primetime. CinemaBlend's resident expert and interviewer for One Chicago, the galaxy far, far away, and a variety of other primetime television. Will not time travel and can cite multiple TV shows to explain why. She does, however, want to believe that she can sneak references to The X-Files into daily conversation (and author bios).