Former ‘NCIS: New Orleans’ Star Riann Steele Reveals Why She Didn’t Feel Accepted

NCIS: New Orleans has welcomed its fair share of guest stars throughout its six-season run. Among those is English actress, Riann Steele, who appeared in four episodes. Many wondered if writers introduced her character, Sydney Halliday, as a means of filling former castmate Shalita Grant’s shoes. Steele hasn’t returned as of yet. Here’s why she doesn’t feel accepted in the world of entertainment.

Riann Steele appeared in multiple episodes of ‘NCIS: New Orleans’

'NCIS: New Orleans'
Scott Bakula as Special Agent Dwayne Pride, Riann Steele as Sydney Halliday, and John Cothran, Jr. as Attorney Elliott Newman | Skip Bolen/CBS via Getty Images

In 2018, Riann Steele burst into Dwayne Pride’s (Scott Bakula) life as old friend Sydney Halliday who’d just left the Army. They’re later held hostage in Pride’s bar and have to work together to stay alive and stop the criminals.

Sydney is later recruited to help out Pride when he’s indicted for abuse of power during Fleet Week. Many loved Sydney’s character because she had a different skill set than the main NCIS: New Orleans team.

However, after four episodes, Sydney said she had to disappear. The door isn’t completely closed, but it didn’t sound like Steele would return any time soon. So far, she hasn’t.

Executive producer, Christopher Silber, addressed why she wasn’t asked to stay on Pride’s team.

“We love the Sydney character and part of what was super cool about her was that she was able to do things that other characters couldn’t, but we are going to be rounding out the team,” he told Parade at the time.

By “rounding out the team,” he was alluding to [then] new cast member, Necar Zadegan, to aid Vanessa Ferlito’s Tammy Gregorio character.

Silber mentioned there’s always a chance Steele could come back.

“We love our guest stars, we love our recurs, and we will continue to try to bring in those who have survived previous seasons,” he said. “We like to bring them back whenever we can. So, we hope to continue that rotating group.”

Here’s what you should know about Steele

Steele is an English-American actress who studied at Arts Educational Schools in London, according to IMDb. The talented actress has appeared in numerous theatrical productions — something she has in common with a few NCIS: New Orleans actors —such as A Midsummer Night’s DreamLove’s Labours Lost and Hamlet

Other credits to Steele’s name include the 2009 TV movie of Hamlet, Doctor Who, Lovesick, and Crazyhead. Her stint on NCIS: New Orleans is one of the few she had a recurring role, which is likely why it’s where fans remember her most.

Why didn’t Steele feel ‘accepted’?

Becoming a successful actress isn’t all stars and glory. In an interview with The British Blacklist, Steele revealed why living in London may have hindered her career to some extent.

“You grow up and this is the skin you’re in, but then it’s, ‘why do they treat me differently?’ Being mixed, you’re really not accepted by either, and people assume that you’re light-skinned so you have a much easier time,” she said.

“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,” she continued. “But no, God put soil on me, let me come out of the ground…”

Steele elaborated on the casting process and how she may aim for leading roles but isn’t always the first choice, or even the second choice.

“I don’t get these parts. I play the pretty friend on the arm of a guy,” she said explaining she auditioned for the leading role of Crazyhead but “they were interested in looking at me for her best friend,” she added.

“I’m not going to lie, my first reaction was, ‘I’m always the friend’. But then I read the script and loved her.”

While Steele may not get every leading role she auditions for, she ended the interview on a note of possibility.

“I do think things are changing,” she said. Fans of the NCIS: New Orleans star hope she’s right. It’s what Pride would want.

NCIS: New Orleans returns Sun. Feb. 16 on CBS.