Why Shelly Wayne From Blue Bloods Looks So Familiar

Grieving mother Shelly Wayne is first introduced on a Season 7 episode of "Blue Bloods." Angry that the murder of her son, Charles, hasn't been solved, she lashes out in public at Commissioner Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck) over the NYPD's investigation. Frank is sympathetic, having long ago lost his own child Joe. The commissioner then discovers that Charles was shot unintentionally by someone already incarcerated. However, Shelly is still angry that the police ignore her group of grieving mothers.

In Season 8, Shelly comes to Frank over the suspicious death of a Rikers Island inmate. Frank does discover that the prisoner, Teresa Hill, was most likely murdered. But Shelly also gets herself arrested at the prison in the process of accusing the NYPD of corruption and a cover-up. This is Shelly Wayne's final appearance in "Blue Bloods." While the character never returned for another episode, fans have likely seen the guest actress — Cassandra Freeman — in one of a number of her prior performances over two decades. Here's where you've seen this performer before.

She plays Sylvia in Inside Man

Cassandra Freeman's first credit is for the 2001 short film "The Things We Do for Love" (via IMDb). However, her first significant screen role came five years later, in the 2006 Spike Lee film, "Inside Man."

Freeman plays Officer Sylvia in the film. Sylvia is a small, but crucial part of the film's story; she is a police officer and the loving girlfriend of Detective Keith Frazier (Denzel Washington). Frazier loves her too, but he tells bank robber Dalton Russell (Clive Owen) that he doesn't have enough money for marriage. This conversation ultimately plays into the very end of the film. After the robbery case is dropped, Frazier returns home and reunites with Sylvia. The couple prepares to have sex, but the detective realizes that Russell, while leaving the bank, dropped a loose diamond into his pocket. In the end, it looks like Frazier will have money to marry her, after all.

According to Story + Rain, Freeman auditioned for Lee himself and thought she'd blown it. Instead, she was hired for the film, and later called the experience of working with Lee and Washington "a master class" in acting and filmmaking.

Freeman plays Jennifer in I Think I Love My Wife

Shortly after making "Inside Man," Cassandra Freeman was hired for a role in the 2007 dramedy "I Think I Love My Wife," a remake of the French film, "Love in the Afternoon" (via New York Times). Chris Rock stars as Richard, the husband of Brenda (Gina Torres). Nevertheless, feeling sexually frustrated, Richard is soon tempted by another woman, Nikki Tru (Kerry Washington).

Freeman plays Jennifer, Brenda's best friend. Jennifer slowly becomes Brenda's emotional support through her marriage's pitfalls. The actress expressed sympathy for the central situation, telling The San Francisco Examiner, "Anyone who has been in a relationship, much less married, has probably had a similar situation like this occur or at least knows someone who has."

Despite hopes that the film would connect beyond African-American audiences, the film received mixed reviews and only made a little over its budget back at the box office. Nevertheless, Freeman continued to move between film, stage, and television projects.

She's hilarious as boutique employee Morgan on Single Ladies

Between 2012 and 2014, Cassandra Freeman appeared on seven episodes of the VH1 series "Single Ladies" as Morgan, an eccentric employee of Val Stokes' (Stacey Dash) fashion boutique. Unlike the other characters, Morgan is already a single mother to a teenager. She's also very blunt and tends to speak her mind, even in delicate situations.

Freeman talked to HelloBeautiful about the character during Season 3 of the show, highlighting her comedic role in the series. "She's the comedy relief, I so love that. I'm a comedian at heart and that's one of the reasons why the producers brought me in, they wanted more laughter." She only complained to the site about Morgan not getting any "steamy love scenes." She joked, "I think I got a scene kissing a cop, that's about it."

Morgan does, however, get married in the Season 3 premiere of the drama, ending her single status for the moment. However, the character doesn't appear in Season 4 of the series.

The actress plays a Juneteenth party hostess on Atlanta

Cassandra Freeman then took a leap into the world of "Atlanta," playing wealthy party host, Monique.

In the "Atlanta" Season 1 episode "Juneteenth," Van (Zazie Beetz) and Earn (Donald Glover) attend a Juneteenth holiday gathering. Van, unemployed, asks Earn to pose as her husband at the party so Monique can help her make connections. Craig (Rick Holmes), Monique's white husband, however, turns out to have an obsession with African-American culture that discomforts Earn.

Monique later reveals to Van that she knows Craig's fixation is absurd, but that she tolerates it because of her upper-class status. Freeman's performance captures both Monique's resignation to her role in Craig's life, as well as her snobbery. Ultimately, her treatment of her servants also bothers an increasingly drunk Van.

When two valets recognize Earn as Paper Boi's (Brian Tyree Henry) manager, Monique is disgusted at the association with his rapper cousin. The snobby host even asks Earn if he plans to "shoot up" the party. Furious, Earn denounces the party and the inherent hypocrisy of his hosts. In the end, Earn and Van leave the Juneteenth gathering — and Monique's company — for good.

The actress plays a single mom and lawyer on Luke Cage

Cassandra Freeman appears on several episodes of the Marvel Netflix series "Luke Cage" as Patricia Wilson, a single mother and attorney. She first appears in Pop's (Frankie Faison) barbershop to pick up her son Lonnie (Darius Kaleb). Wilson also offers Luke Cage (Mike Colter) her number and is clearly attracted to him. Later, Lonnie is present at the shop when the place is attacked, but Cage protects him from the bullets and saves his life. After Cage goes on the run, the NYPD questions Lonnie and brutally assaults him. Wilson confronts Deputy Chief Priscilla Ridley (Karen Pittman) over the police's brutality and vows that there will be consequences.

She reappears in Season 2 when the lawyer is assigned to the representation of Hernan "Shades" Alvarez (Theo Rossi). Alvarez is testifying against the Stokes Crime Family in exchange for immunity. However, when the criminal admits to being involved in the attack on the barbershop, Wilson loses control. Knowing he nearly killed her son, the attorney recuses herself from the case and walks away.

Freeman plays a skilled negotiator on The Enemy Within

Cassandra Freeman appeared in the short-lived 2019 NBC show, "The Enemy Within." The show features Jennifer Carpenter as former CIA Deputy Director Erica J. Shepherd, now a prisoner after she betrayed her country for the sake of her daughter. FBI agent Will Keating (Morris Chestnut) originally arrested Shepherd, but now he has to recruit her to help stop Russian terrorist Mikhail Tal (Lev Gorn).

Freeman plays series regular Jacquelyn Pettigrew, a training instructor at the FBI Academy. Jason Bragg (Noah Mills) originally recruits Pettigrew to help investigate a possible cartel source, U.S. Ambassador Dennis Gordon (Michael Cumpsty). However, Pettigrew soon joins the team full-time in trying to foil Tal's attacks. A talented hostage negotiator, Pettigrew has a way with words. Freeman told Black Film, "I would say she's sort of like the funny and the wit of the show."

However, "The Enemy Within" was canceled thanks to poor ratings, after only one season on the air (via Deadline).

She's the new Vivian on Bel-Air

For her next role, Cassandra Freeman took on the role of Aunt Viv in "Bel Air," a reboot of the original Will Smith series, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air."

When Freeman found out she was up for the part of Aunt Viv on the new Peacock reboot of "Bel Air," the actress felt intimidated. "I didn't even know that this was an option on the menu in life, so to even see an opportunity like this to come up is pretty unreal," she told The Huffington Post.

Like the original character, first played by Janet Hubert on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air," Vivian Banks is a retired artist and a powerful family matriarch. However, in keeping with the new show's more dramatic take on the original Will Smith sitcom, Vivian is also now questioning whether she too often puts her family over herself. Freeman highlighted this point about the character, saying, "And so, throughout the show, you'll find out, can she get back in touch with the part of herself that was fearless and ambitious?" 

No matter which direction her character is taken, the actress seems excited to be part of the new drama series. "I just feel very humbled by the whole experience," Freeman said. "And I just hope people feel the love that we're cooking as this comes out into the world."