It was recently announced that actress and comedian Diona Reasonover is replacing Pauley Perrette as the show NCIS’s forensic scientist. Perette’s quirky nerd character became a fan favorite. If there is anyone who can win over fans it’s Reasonover. In 2015, Black Enterprise had an exclusive interview with the rising young star who was then appearing on a sitcom called Clipped.
Black Enterprise: Tell me a little about yourself. How did you break into acting and when did you decide to pursue comedy?
Reasonover: Well, this is a story all about how my life got flipped, turned upside down – no, just kidding. Don’t sue me, Will Smith. I was born and raised in Detroit. I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be an actor, I just kind of did it on the side and figured I’d keep doing it ’til someone made me stop. I’ve had so many jobs before and during acting – I used to always be on Craigslist – just little [acting jobs] here and there to make a couple of bucks while I was in school. My favorite was when I was a barista at the school coffee shop. I didn’t buy groceries the whole time I worked there. I [lived] off pastries and espresso.
Tell me about Clipped, your role, and what attracted you to the comedy?
Clipped is a sitcom set in Boston about a group of high school friends who all work in the same barber shop. Ashley Tisdale from High School Musical, George Wendt from Cheers, and Lauren Lapkus from Orange is the New Black all work at the shop. My character is Charmaine, one of the barbers. She’s that friend who tells you when you’ve messed up. She’s so real. I get to have all this verbal sparring with George Wendt, it’s great.
I love comedy, even more than drama sometimes, because it allows you to be the truest version of yourself. I find comedy in everyday situations and I bring that on screen with me. I love it.
Charmaine is a funny yet quirky character. What do you love most about her? Do you ever find some of your personality spilling into the role?
I love how protective she is of her friends. She may come off as pretty cool, but ain’t nobody messing with her clique. Charmaine also manages to have a better booty than me. No lie. The pants they put me in make those legs look fly, and as soon as I’m out of character, my butt deflates by 8%. It’s sad.
I find little parts of me in the character – my facial expressions [and] my laugh. One of the hardest scenes we shot is one where Charmaine is laughing at a video of herself. I’m not a huge ‘laugher’ because I have the goofiest, most awkward, backwards laugh you’ve ever heard. It’s bad. Like, Steve Urkel should be giving me the side-eye kind of bad. So we’re shooting the scene and one of the takes has that terrible laugh. It’s immortalized on tape. Ugh.
There’s this belief that black actors are currently ‘trending’ on television and in Hollywood. What is your perspective on this? Has this notion affected you and your career?
People don’t trend. Fashion trends. Leggings are a trend – and a terrible trend, at that. Lycra will always betray you.
Our stories must be told and, as audiences, we have to support diverse, inclusive stories. The more we limit ourselves, the more networks will limit our options.
This is a pretty big role for you. What did you hope to gain from this opportunity, and what’s next for you?
My mom is freaking out. I’m freaking out. My high school English teacher is freaking out. I love Charmaine’s wit and insight. I’d love to play someone a little closer to me, a little neurotic, kinda geeky, a klutz. (I’m really selling myself as awesome here, aren’t I? Date me.) I’m also a writer, so I want to see something I write [get] produced. There are so many exciting directors out there I’d love to work with. Send Ava DuVernay and Dee Reese my number.