NCIS: New Orleans has welcomed a numerous amount of guest stars throughout its six-season run. One of those guest stars is an English actress, Riann Steele, who appeared in four episodes. She played the character Sydney Halliday, and many wondered if this character was created to fill former castmate, Shalita Grant’s shoes.
Shalita Grant played ATF-turned Special Agent Sonja Percy, on NCIS: New Orleans. From 2015-2018 she cemented herself as a franchise favorite opposite of Lucas Black, who played Special Agent Christopher LaSalle.
Grant left the show to create a business called Four Naturals Hair Spa, and credited the creation of that business to spending so much time on a show that decimated her natural hairstyle and image.
Back to Riann. Sydney Halliday was an old friend of Dwayne Pride, played by Scott Bakula, who had just left the Army. They’re held hostage in a bar, and have to work together to stay alive, they’re stopping criminals.
Sydney is later recruited to help out Pride, when he’s indicted for an abuse of power during Fleet Week. Many people loved Sydney’s character due to the skill set she possessed, which was vastly different than the main team.
However, four episodes in Sydney said she had to disappear. The door’s not shut, but it doesn’t seem like Steele will return anytime soon.
Executive producer Christopher Silber addressed why she wasn’t asked to stay on, and told Parade he wanted to round out the team.
Steele has been in many other things, such as the TV movie of Hamlet, Doctor Who, Lovesick and Crazyhead, but she had a recurring role in NCIS: New Orleans and that may be where fans remember her most.
Wherever you remember her from, she’s a pretty good actress and she definitely deserves to be on the big screen if that’s her dream.
Steele did not feel accepted in the industry and talked about this with The British Blacklist, because she’s mixed, and being mixed means that sometimes people don’t accept you, especially within the ethnicity groups, and sometimes people assume that because she was light-skinned she had an easier time.
“But no. Now I live in America, they talk about passing. A lot. So I get, ‘you’re almost white’…This role is great for me because people assume, you’re the light-skinned pretty friend… But no, God put soil on me, let me come out of the ground…”
Steele went on to elaborate on the casting process, and how she may aim for leading roles but isn’t always the first–or even second choice.
So Steele left because she felt as though she was never being looked at for a leading role, even if that was what she was going for. This is terrible, but hopefully, she’ll find some roles she enjoys and feels as though she fits (and is being allowed to represent herself freely) soon.
Like, maybe The Magicians.