‘NCIS: New Orleans’: CCH Pounder Reveals The Gruesome Way She Prepared For Her Role

CCH Pounder is an NCIS: New Orleans staple. Her character, Dr. Loretta Wade, is the backbone of Dwayne Pride’s (Scott Bakula) satellite team. The cause of death from any NCIS crime in NOLA is all thanks to Dr. Wade, with the help of a former forensic scientist, Sebastian Lund (Rob Kerkovich). Considering Pounder’s role isn’t for the faint of heart, how did she prepare?

CCH Pounder plays the Jefferson Parish Coroner on ‘NCIS: New Orleans’

CCH Pounder
CCH Pounder arrives at the premiere of Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Pictures’ ‘Godzilla: King Of The Monsters’ | Morgan Lieberman/WireImage

CCH Pounder may be from Georgetown, Guyana, and raised in England, but the Ithica College graduate is all New Orleans since earning the NCIS part. Dr. Loretta Wade is contracted by NCIS for all crimes related to the Navy and Marine Corps.

Dr. Wade investigates the cause of death in all bodies that make it to her morgue. Sometimes it’s an easy job, but more times than not, Loretta is challenged with helping solve a bigger piece of the puzzle connected to Pride’s investigations.

In real life, a coroner does much of the same, albeit in a less dramatic fashion. To prepare for the role, Pounder did the one thing every actor should do when attempting to declare a cause of death.

How did Pounder prepare for the role of Dr. Loretta Wade?

Some actors might prefer to keep a hands-off approach when it comes to preparing for a new role. Pounder dove right into the deep end.

Pounder previously spoke with AARP, explaining that Dr. Loretta Wade is infused with “Santa Fe-style spirituality,” as well as her real-life experience shadowing New Orleans coroners. All in all, Pounder assisted with 23 autopsies. Yes — we said 23.

 “Waiting for the ambulance, stacking the bodies what looks like half a mile high,” she said. “They have a strange sense of joy and appreciation of life, I guess because they’re very aware of the alternative. It’s pretty impressive.” 

She also noted that she has a specific trait that gives credibility to Dr. Wade saying, “I don’t know what it is about the timbre of my voice, but it obviously hits the note that makes people go, ‘Sit up straight and behave!’”

The actress also credits her NCIS: New Orleans continued success, aside from her voice, with a theater-trained work ethic.

“I never stopped learning,” she said, alluding to the necessary research involved with taking on any part. For Dr. Loretta Wade, Pounder simply did as Dr. Wade would do: investigated dead bodies for answers.

Pounder is Emmy and Grammy-nominated legend

The NCIS: New Orleans star didn’t always observe autopsies for her projects. The four-time Emmy-nominated actress has been a part of shows like ER, The X-Files, and more.

Her performance as The Shield’s Claudette Wyms landed Pounder a MIB Prism Award, two Golden Satellite Awards, and the Genii Excellence in TV Award, according to CBS.

With an instantly recognizable voice, some may remember her from James Cameron’s Avatar, with two sequels on the horizon.

Acting aside, CCH, which stands for Carol Christine Hilaria, also received a Grammy nomination for Best Spoken Word Album for Grow Old Along with Me, the Best Is Yet to Be. She even won an Audie Award for Women in the Material World.

While Dr. Loretta Wade is rooted in forensics and crime-related homicide, Pounder lives a life on the opposite end, advocating the Creative Coalition, Artists for a New South Africa, and the African Millennium Foundation.

Pounder has won numerous kudos for her leadership in performing arts. She and her late husband, Boubacar Kone, co-founded the Musee Boribana in Dakar, Senegal, which they gifted to the Senegalese people in 2014, and the Pounder-Kone Art Space in Los Angeles.

CCH Pounder may have been part of multiple autopsies to prepare for Dr. Loretta Wade’s presence on the NCIS: New Orleans set, but in real life, she’s just a woman on a mission to live her best life, and we’re not mad about it.

NCIS: New Orleans returns to CBS in February 2020.