Empowerment Series: Afro-Latina Actress, Writer, Filmmaker, and Podcast Host, Grasie Mercedes Shares “Grand Crew” with AW
Grasie Mercedes had a successful career as a fashion stylist and beauty blogger before moving on to be a Producer at MTV Networks. The work behind the scenes was only the beginning of her journey in the entertainment industry. The Writer, Filmmaker, and Actress is an uber-talented Afro-Latina with film credits that include A CoVid Love Story, Just the Two of Us, Postmate, and the web series, My Boyfriend. Most recently, she plays the character “Fay” on NBC’s Grand Crew. There is nothing she can’t do! In 2021, Grasie created the podcast, Not (Blank) Enough, where she and guests openly discuss the sometimes, sensitive topic.
AW had the opportunity to speak to Grasie about Grand Crew, not being (blank) enough, and becoming part of the change. Each of the interviews in the empowerment series is special. Every woman shares a unique story and with it brings her own message of inspiration. I’m sure our conversation will resonate with readers, and help them connect with Grasie, as much as I did, that day.
For anyone not familiar with the show, can you share a bit about its premise and your character? Grand Crew is about six friends who are navigating life, love, relationships, and work, while regularly gathering for a “wine down” at their local bar, “Cru.” Her character, Fay, is a recent transplant from New York City to Los Angeles. She is the fun one, gives really good advice, and is the voice of reason. The last few episodes reveal her interesting past. I’m enjoying playing the fun character. All our characters are fun! It is a total dream to play her and work on this show.
I love this show! My favorite episode of Grand Crew is “Wine & Headlines” which dealt with a bad news cycle.” The characters grapple with the world’s bad news. We all cope with pain differently. Ignore it, exercise our way out of it, wine out of it, etc. There are countless ways to numb ourselves. This episode hits some serious notes but does it in a savvy way that is appealing. What about this show appealed to you? Why do you think it was important to do it? First of all, the show’s creator, Phil Augusta Jackson, and Executive Producer Dan Gore, who created Brooklyn 99 are both smart, funny, amazing guys! Phil is a genius. I read the breakdown of Fay and instantly connected to her. I didn’t feel like I had to play a stereotypical black woman. It was refreshing to bring myself to the character and have fun with it. Our writing room is phenomenal and does such a great job keeping it light, funny, but still touching on issues that people deal with every day. Issues that, we, as black people have to face each day. This episode was one of my favorites. It opened up a little differently, introducing poet Jay Ivy. He recited a poem that gave me chills. It was such a great way to open up Black History Month.
In this episode, your character, Fay, says”I go where life takes me, living in the moment.” Is that statement all Fay or is it also true for Grasie? Yes, it is also true for Grasie. I am a believer that everything happens for a reason. Also, if something makes you truly unhappy, then try to find the happy in something else. My mother worked her butt off to give me a good education. There is a privilege with that for sure. I grew up in a decent neighborhood, considering my mother had me as a teenager and we didn’t have any money. I had comfort, knowing my family had my back. I could try whatever I wanted but knew I had to work my butt off to make sure that I was the best at everything I did. Hustle, hustle, hustle. I went to school for journalism and tried to work for news media, it was too depressing, couldn’t do that every day. Getting to work at MTV Entertainment News was fun. It helped me get into production but I always loved acting.
Growing up in New York City, raised in a Dominican household, I did not see people that looked like me on television. My daughter is having a completely different experience. She sees Latinas that look like her on the big and small screen – in front and behind the camera. She is seeing herself in the Latina taking a seat in the Supreme Court, Congress, the White House, and Hollywood. How does it feel to be part of the change taking place with shows like Grand Crew and the films you are making? Hearing that touches my heart. I want to be part of the change. Having Afro-Latinas writing, directing producing, and being part of the change is incredible. Grand Crew has given me more of a platform. I loved the announcement when I was going to be on the show, it included that I was Dominican American. This gave Latino outlets the opportunity to share the beautiful news. Seeing my people support me on a Black show. This is not a Latino show but I am black and Latino and love the support! I hope we get a second season, and I can continue to create not only opportunities for myself but for others too!
Having a platform is a big responsibility. We have the power to do good or evil. You have used yours to spread awareness, give others a voice and make the world better in a variety of ways. Your podcast, “Not (Blank) Enough” is incredibly powerful! Thank you for helping to normalize this feeling of “not enough.” I have experienced the same, like many others. My hair is not straight enough, I’m not pretty enough, not light skin enough, not successful enough. I’m not good enough to achieve the things, I want for myself. So many of us have felt that way at some point. I am always working on myself and shifting this mindset. What would be your response, if I asked you what is your “no (blank enough)?” There are so many! That is why I started the podcast. It was during deep CoVid and I was also developing a television show based on my life. As an Afro-Latina, never quite felt like I fit in. I was writing a pitch document and having Zoom meetings with producers. As I was telling my story, I thought it would be great to talk to other people about not feeling like they are enough. We did about 40 episodes and talked to incredible guests, who were so gracious and gave me their time. We spoke to people from all walks of life. It didn’t matter who it was, everyone experienced a feeling of “Not enough.” Today, I don’t feel Latina enough, don’t always feel black enough. As far as, Imposter Syndrome, I have felt like I’m not talented enough. I asked myself, “How did I get this show?”
We all have those feelings, it is one of the things that makes us universal and human. I think there are always going to be those feelings. Running, meditation, therapy, hanging out with friends, and talking to my mom are helpful. Having all these, plus self-help, self-love practices brings me back to the moment. I can get out of my head, so I can have the ability to show up, perform, sit down and write. You recognize the chatter in your head, telling you “I’m not good enough.” Silence it. We will always have that, it’s never going to go away. We just learn to deal with it in a productive way that allows us to continue to move forward in life.
I like to end AW interviews with a positive message, advice, or quote to inspire, empower and encourage. For anyone reading, who is feeling like they are not enough. What encouraging words can you share? You are enough. You might not feel like you are 100% but you have to believe that you are! I’ve been hearing a lot of stories of young people committing suicide. It makes me sad to know that people are in so much pain without knowing how much they are loved. There are outlets, people care more than you think and would be happy to be there for you. It’s hard knowing what to do when those thoughts come but understanding they are normal. No matter how pretty, successful, wealthy, or how perfect things look on social media, we all have these feelings.
Believing you are defective for any reason is a damaging lie. The feeling of “not enough” lives within all of us but manifests, differently. Men and women who struggle with the painful emotion think they are not deserving of good things. The rationale behind this sense of lack varies and can stem from one’s own critical inner voice, trauma, or living in a judgmental environment. We can be our worst enemy at times. Giving ourselves grace and learning self-love is a critical part of overcoming the battle of feeling like we are not enough.
If you are in a place of “not enough” own it. You are not alone, accept what you are feeling. Decide who you want to be, and how you want to live your life – don’t sell yourself short. Surrounding yourself with positive people who uplift and believe in you can be a helpful reminder of your greatness. Do not strive for perfection, just the best self you can be, that is enough. You are enough!
We are incredibly grateful to Grasie for sharing her vulnerability during our interview. We often try to create the perception of a perfect self. This fierce Afro-Latina is an example of the beauty there is in self-love and acceptance.
Check your listings to check out “Grand Crew” in your area. You can also stream it on Hulu and NBC’s Peacock. Meanwhile, the gifted actress is waiting to hear about another season of Grand Crew and writing shows and working on a feature film.
You can watch the full interview with Grasie on the AW YouTube channel or listen to the AW Confidential Podcast found on Spotify, Apple Podcast, Anchor, and everywhere you find your podcasts.
To find out more about Grasie, visit her on Twitter or Instagram, @grasiemercedes
This interview has been condensed for clarity.*
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