Written by: Kyree Shockley (@chroniclesofky)
With season three of STAR underway, Brittany O’ Grady, who plays the role of Simone Davis, is showcasing all of her talents while unpeeling the many layers of her character. In the last two seasons, fans have witness Grady effortlessly portray the very fragile, complex Simone but Grady says that tapping into her role is no easy feat.
“She’s evolve so much,” said O’Grady. “She was supposed to be borderline crazy –very different from who I am but it’s human for us to all change and evolve. Playing her [Simone] is a fun challenge I enjoy.”
Though there are major differences between Simone and her own upbringing, Brittany takes the similarities between them and uses it to convey authenticity on the show.
“Despite her negative past, Simone is very sensitive,” She reveals. “People underestimate her but she’s a lot stronger than what people think and I share that in common with her.”
One of the more significant similarities between O’Grady and Simone is that they’re both biracial. In the early stages of her career, she accepted roles playing Latino women but “Star” is the first opportunity she has had to play herself. With the show success thus far, Grady is looking forward to taking some of her own personal experiences and exploring the possibilities of diving deeper into her character’s racial makeup.
“It’s hard to identify when other people don’t see you as you are,” said Grady. “I grew up in a diverse area but I was picked on. People told me I didn’t’ count as black and was called different racial names throughout my life. Then when I went to college, which is a private, predominately white, Christian university, it felt like I was in Get Out. I was tossed around by people’s perceptions and Simone has been through that as well.”
Even though Simone has experienced many ups and downs throughout the seasons, (the passing of her mother, sexual abuse, placed in foster care, and now a pending divorce), Grady finds Simone’s sassy one-liners to be one of her favorite things about her role.
“Simone is always bringing an edge,” Brittany states. “She’s comedic, she’s fun and I like to crack up with the things that she says. It’s fun to have that side of myself show through her.”
Despite the recent turn of events, O’Grady says fans should expect Simone to move forward and make “a lot of personal wins” this season.
“She’s no longer stuck in her past,” said O’Grady. “I’m really excited about her tackling things that have more to do with her and not what others have done to her.”
In the spirit of moving forward, Brittany talked about where she would like to see her character go in the future and how she would like for Simone to grow in the seasons to come. And the two big things Grady would like to tackle are race and sexuality.
“I want to talk more about Simone’s race, how she feels about it and her sexuality because she’s fallen in love with men and women,” said Grady. “ I want to see their [FOX’s] explanation especially to an audience who may not understand it.
With her character possibly being bisexual and having friends a part of the LGBTQ community, O’Grady wants to bring awareness to the discrimination and issues many bisexual people face. She would like for Simone to express her sexuality without the stereotypical “flip flop/ confused” narrative but in a way that honors those that are affected.
“It’s one of my biggest purposes in life,” Grady said. “As an ally, I want to portray the bisexual experience the best way I can. One of my friends that I’ve had since I was 12, came out to me as trans during the pilot and she told me the first time she saw someone stick up for trans people on TV, it was me and that’s something that I will keep with me for the rest of my life.”
At 22, Grady has seen much success and continues to be an inspiration to young actresses, especially those who are biracial and looking to her as role model. Grady’s piece of advice to those aspiring to be where she is: “let what inspires you, inspire you.”
“You don’t have to be put in a box,” said Grady. “The emotions and stories that you tell are way more important than what people want to perceive you as. Your race is who you are and it’s a part of you but it shouldnt let other people define your work or your ability to tell a story.”
In case you wanted to know what other projects Grady has in the works, be on the look out for her movie, Above Suspicion –at true story about an FBI agent who’s assigned to a small town in Kentucky, where he becomes involved with a local woman, leading to scandal. In the meantime, be sure to watch Grady on FOX’s hit show, STAR every Wednesday at 9/8c.