Last night’s episode of This Is Us took viewers on a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Of course, that’s nothing new for the NBC drama. The episode — “This Big, Amazing, Beautiful Life” — focused on Pearson foster child Deja (played by Lyric Ross). Viewers finally got a peek into her mysterious background. And although she was the focus of the storyline, her great-grandmother (played by Pam Grier) made an appearance through flashbacks.
The 69-year-old actress has been a fixture in Hollywood since the early 1970s. She’s best known for starring in the 1974 film, Foxy Brown, where she portrayed the titular character. She also starred in a string of women in prison movies such as The Big Bird Cage, Coffy, and Sheba, Baby. So, it’s not a surprise that when she popped up in the primetime drama, fans immediately recognized her.
— Cache Perez (@cache1123) March 7, 2018
— K #PutRespeckOnMyCheck Jackson (@KwanaWrites) March 7, 2018
Excuse me, Pam Grier is on #ThisIsUs. Is it possible for this TV show to get any better?
— Evette Dionne 🤷🏾♀️ (@freeblackgirl) March 7, 2018
Pam tweeted out her support during the show: “This is Us, writer Kay Oyegun, the team of Producers and NBC, thank you for making me a Great grandmother with the most lovely children and gifted actors Joy and Makenzie. So precious.??❤️” She added, “This is Us on NBC tonight with me acting crazy, my favorite mood recently.”
Judging from fan reactions, her appearance during the episode was well-received. It wasn’t only a great deja vu (too much?) experience, but also a chance to understand everything that Deja’s gone through. Sadly, viewers had to say goodbye to Pam’s character — but not before her presence was felt.
“Pam was in Colorado but she flew in and we got her to hang with us for a few episodes. She was so good. We had realized we only saw such a tiny bit of [Deja’s] story, and she was in a lot of ways really quite a mystery,” executive producer Isaac Aptaker told Variety about her casting. “We had fragments of information we got through her file and through her mom, who we had met a couple of times, but she was unknown to us in a lot of ways except through this very specific context of being a foster child in Beth and Randall’s house. [Her relationship with her great-grandmother] was a chance to get much more.”