PLAYBILL.COM'S CUE & A: Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike's Shalita Grant
By Matthew Blank
March 26, 2013
Shalita Grant, making her Broadway debut in Christopher Durang's Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, fills out Playbill.com's questionnaire of random facts, backstage trivia and pop-culture tidbits.
Other theatre credts include The Philanderer (Pearl Theatre), Measure for Measure, The Winter’s Tale, The Merchant of Venice (The Public Theater); Roxy Font (FringeNYC), Luck of the Irish (Huntington Theatre), The Laramie Project (England), Unaccompanied Minors (Vanguard Arts), The Children’s Hour (Everyman Theatre), A Raisin in the Sun, Into the Woods (Mainstage Theater) and Body and Soul (Baryshnikov Arts Center).
Grant has appeared on screen in "Empire Corner," "Invisible," "Rehearsing a Dream" and "The Good Wife."
Full given name:
Shalita Faunya Lereane Grant... needless to say, I hate the 2nd and 3rd name and have every intention to get rid of them.
Where you were born/where you were raised:
I was born in Baltimore but moved to Virginia when I was 5. I stayed there until I was 15 and then moved back to Baltimore to finish high school.
Virgo, although I'm still not quite sure what that means.
What your parents did/do for a living:
My mom is a beautician, my dad is a salesman.
I'm the oldest of 9. Although I'm the only biological child between my parents. All my siblings are half, step and adopted.
Something you're REALLY bad at:
1. Math 2. Remembering birthdays 3. Knowing when someone's flirting with me.
First Broadway show you ever saw:
Translations, the show... I can read the question just fine :)
If you could go back in time and catch any Broadway show, what would it be?
Oh my god. Okay so I would NEED to see Josephine Baker in The Ziegfeld Follies of 1936 AND August: Osage County (I missed that run because I was very caught up in school).
Current or recent shows you recommended to friends:
I recommend Hands on a Hardbody (I just saw it) and then I'd be like, "But if you were really my friend you'd see MY show..." (kidding, sort of).
Some favorite musicals:
Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson and Evita
Some favorite modern plays:
Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike, Brokeology, Clybourne Park
Some favorite modern playwrights:
Christopher Durang, Tracy Letts, Theresa Rebeck, Katori Hall, Nathan Jackson
Music that makes you cry, any genre:
Truthfully, it doesn't matter what genre, if I hear something and it speaks to me I am bound to cry. So, love lost, or the singer saying they'd love the person in spite of themselves, those are themes that touch me.
MAC or PC?
My heart says MAC but my wallet is all about the PC.
Most played song on your iPod:
Hahahaha, I legit just checked my "Top 25 Most Played" and the first three are:
1. "Radio" by Beyonce 2. "Video Phone" by Beyonce
3. "Sexy and I Know It" by LMFAO.
Not sure what that says about me...actually, I think I do.
Okay this is easy:
Facebook Jezebel NY Times (theater section) Playbill
Last book you read:
"Home" by Toni Morrison. Between books, I read the New Yorker (I so hope this makes up for my iTunes most played).
Must-see TV show(s):
"Shameless" is a MUST! And "Enlightened" (but they canceled it... WHHYYYY??)
Pop culture guilty pleasure:
Bravo. I am a junkie and Andy "Cohens" is my boo! (I made his last name plural on purpose, it's this cute thing that we do, only he doesn't know me and doesn't know that I do that.)
Three favorite cities:
New York, New Orleans and Montreal
First CD/Tape/LP you owned:
My first job was the Shampoo Girl at my grandma's hair salon, when I was 11, in VA. I went to the WalMart with my first $15 in tips and bought two tapes (everyone had a Discman but I had a portable tape player).
The first one was the soundtrack to West Side Story, and the second was a comedy tape. I memorized "Gee, Officer Krupke" start to finish.
First stage kiss:
Can you believe I have never had one? I came close in the regional production of Luck of the Irish but it was cut right before previews. I was bummed! These lips are like pillows!
How you got your Equity card:
Measure for Measure at the Public Theater (the mobile unit)
Favorite liquid refreshment:
Tequila. Or seltzer water.
Pre-show rituals or warm-ups:
I don't have any. I've tried the whole ritual thing and so far the only thing that I do consistently pre-show is show up on time.
Most challenging role you have ever played:
Nina in The Seagull. I was in my second year of acting at Juilliard, and I would have taken any role but that one. I think I knew there was something the role required that I didn't have. I eventually got there but it was challenging because up until that point, I just wanted to get things right. I came to understand the difference between getting it right and getting it real.
Craziest audition story:
When I auditioned for my first arts high school we were required to do a monologue. Instead my mom and I thought it'd be a good idea for me to play 2 characters and do a scene (you know, to show my range).
I played both Mama and Beneatha from A Raisin in the Sun, and I did the scene where Beneatha tells Mama she doesn't believe in God, and Mama slaps her. And yes, I slapped myself... and they let me in.
What has been the most fun or fulfilling aspect of this project?
It has to be the people. I'm so happy to work with Nicky and Chris, their trust in my abilities and the way they work is so huge. And the cast of course is stellar and so much fun.
Worst job you ever had:
Selling Cutco knives.
If you could trade roles with anyone in the cast for a week, who would it be?
I would trade with Kristine, her Sonia is both heartbreaking and funny. She has a fantastic journey in this play.
Leading man role you'd like a shot at:
Something about you that surprises people:
How short I am
Something you are incredibly proud of:
I lost 25 lbs without any fads. Just clean diet and exercise. I became a personal trainer and personally trained myself. That and I recently built a bookshelf.
Career you would want if not a performer:
1. Hair stylist
2. Undercover FBI agent (funny story, in one of the dark periods of my training I really thought it'd be best to make a career change because I was sure this whole acting thing wouldn't work out. So one day after a particularly challenging class I researched what I had to do to become an FBI agent.)
"I'll never understand why…"
… people stop in the middle of the sidewalk. It's a sidewalk not a sidestand people!
Words of advice for aspiring performers:
Don't let your ambition and drive suffocate you. It should propel you and lift you up from rejection, it should help you. When it begins to dictate and threaten and put outrageous expectations on you, it's time to give it a time out. And when it's had its moment, allow it to help you again.