Shalita Grant, who plays mom-blogging influencer Sherry Conrad on Netflix’s You has chosen to speak out about the physical and emotional damage to her hair caused by her former role as Sonja Percy on NCIS.
“I had started documenting some of the physical damage that was going on — it’s harder to document the emotional damage,” the actress said in an interview with Tamron Hall on The Tamron Hall Show.
The physical damage was caused by the use of wigs to her natural hair.
She added: “In six months time, I had already had a bald spot in my head from season 2.Everybody on Twitter let me know, ‘That looks like a helmet!’ by that point I didn’t care anymore, because I was protecting myself.”
Grant stated that she was treated differently than her costars by having to come with her hair already done to set and coming out of pocket to pay for her own wigs despite NCIS being a multimillion-dollar production.
“When you get a show and it’s a multimillion-dollar show, and you see that your treatment in the hair department is totally different from what’s going on with your co-workers on a granular level you’re like ‘Okay like that sucks like I have to pay for my own wigs. I have to come with my hair done. But this is the multimillion-dollar production,’ but then to get blamed for production, right?”
This led Grant to be titled “hard to work with” despite just wanting to save her natural haair.
“But the truth is, I wasn’t being worked with,” Grant said. “So I had to save myself.”
Back in 2020, Grant spoke to Vulture on the same issue saying that producers reinforced her character to not have a “natural curl pattern” like the one Grant herself has. Since her character Percy was a love interest in the show, producers saw put that she had straight hair, which ultimately led to physical and emotional scarring.
“For Black women, the way our hair is policed is that we’re told it’s unprofessional in its natural state. From the time that you’re in school, you are getting this lesson. It’s shored up with punishment,” Grant said then. “With NCIS, it wasn’t just that the people didn’t know how to do my hair. The cosmetology board teaches that hair is hair, which essentially erases Black and Asian hair, because there are differences…What was specific to them was a couple of producers who were committed to [my character] Sonja Percy not having a natural curl pattern.”
“It was all because, in their minds, a love interest doesn’t look like that,” she added. “A love interest has straight hair. It’s all built around those assumptions, and I suffered because of that.”
Grant played Sonja Percy from 2015-2018 ultimately leaving the show due to the damage caused to her hair per PEOPLE.