Surname: grace duah
Hometown: Fairfax, Va
Current role: Shan further gossip girl
Teen Vogue: If you could be the main character in a TV show or movie that is not your own, who would you be and why?
Grace Duah: I would like to be a main character in a John Hughes film. RIP to legend. I think there’s something so beautiful about what he’s done with teenage media and how he’s shown respect for a teenage perspective. He did that every time with his stories, and it opened up a whole film genre and just one way of talking about teenagers where it was, “I’m not making fun of you for that. I understand why it would really suck if everyone forgot my 16th birthday.” I’d love to play a character, especially a young black girl who has to do this, who has to feel this, that is affirmed and said in this way : “There’s nothing trivial about what you’re really experiencing right now. You’re 16, you don’t have to be strong.” On the other hand, I’m addicted to it psych. So I would also like to stand in the middle of James Roday and Dule Hill as they existed. The first is definitely my philosophical one. The other is like, “You wanna make a girl’s dreams come true?”
A little over a year ago, Grace Duah would walk The late show with Stephen Colbert where she worked as a production assistant, softly singing “Good Morning, Baltimore” and gazing up at the billboards in Times Square. Now she continues playing the quick-witted, often chaotic Shan gossip girland her face is on one of those billboards.
Grace has been a scene thief since she was seven when she played a blood vessel in her school’s music production schoolhouse skirt – no lines, one in a clump of vessels, but committed to the bit, full of heart. At her high school in Virginia, she did pantomime with just three minutes and 20 seconds of screen time, a fact her brother pointed out after the show. “But your comedic timing was excellent,” he told her.
A stubborn drama teacher later, and she had persuaded her Ghanaian immigrant parents to support her acting dreams. “I had to convince my parents, ‘No, you don’t want an engineer or a doctor,'” Grace says Teen Vogue. “You want me to play one on TV.” She enrolled at Pace University in New York City to study film acting, thriving for four years and graduating in 2020. Acting jobs are not available due to COVID-19.
But Grace was willing. She had completed internships on the production side of college (including at The Late Show), which helped her get a marketing job at BET to help pay rent in town. Then she got a call from The Late Show, invites her as PA. At the same time, she auditioned—another audition page went in her back pocket for every Colbert script she printed out at work. Her interns helped her manage her workload when she ducked for callbacks. Five months later she grabbed it gossip girl Shannon Barnes, a rebellious teenager with a fight-the-man attitude who has a few secrets up her sleeve.