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Why Grace Michaels From Blue Bloods Looks So Familiar

With a Season 13 greenlit by CBS, "Blue Bloods" will continue to delight fans with more of the iconic Reagan family Sunday night dinners. Since 2010, we've become accustomed to watching the Reagan family members break bread together in their personal lives while upholding New York City law during their professional lives. "Blue Bloods" is a unique procedural drama that gives insight into the Big Apple's law enforcement system through the Reagan family members. For instance, the family patriarch, Frank Reagan (Tom Selleck), is the NYPD commissioner, while his daughter Erin Reagan (Bridget Moynahan) is an assistant district attorney.

With their various involvement in the law system, the actions of the Reagan family often have some effect on the residents of the city. That's why it makes sense that reporter Grace Michaels is seen throughout the series often performing her journalistic duty, even if it means questioning the Reagans. Played by Brandhyze Stanley, the actor first appears as the reporter in Season 6, Episode 1, "Worst Case Scenario." She returns in just about every following season, last appearing in Season 12's "Be Smart or Be Dead." While some fans may now be used to seeing Stanley give Danny Reagan (Donnie Wahlberg) a difficult time with her hard-hitting questions in "Blue Bloods," they might also wonder, "Where have I seen her before?"

Brandhyze Stanley's acting career began in soap operas

Before her Hollywood career, Stanley was unsure about making a living in acting. As she noted in an interview with Keith Andrew, although her aunt, who is a performer, and her role model Halle Berry both inspired her to pursue acting, she held the belief that without an immediate big breakthrough, a career in Hollywood wasn't feasible. "Growing up, I didn't think that, if you weren't Charlize Theron or Denzel [Washington] or someone, that you could make a living doing this," she said in the interview. "And so [then] I got exposed to the fact that yeah, you can! You know, there are commercials and television shows and things that you can do that all build into it while you're working to make it."

Besides commercials, Stanley's start in television began in soap operas. In 2003, she appeared in a few episodes of "Guiding Light" as a model named Genevieve. In 2005, she performed some soap opera double duty, playing a model named Nicole in "As The World Turns," and a character named Janine in "One Life To Live." Her longest time in a soap took place in "All My Children," in which the actor portrayed a waitress for the series club ConFusion. Stanley appeared in a total of nine episodes from 2006 to 2009 (via IMDb).

Blue Bloods isn't Stanley's first reporter role

After her stint in soap operas, Stanley started making appearances in other hit series. She had one-off appearances in The Good Wife" and "Person of Interest" in 2011. In 2015, Stanley made her first appearance as Grace Michaels in "Blue Bloods." But even after acting in her first episode of the popular crime drama, Stanley continued appearing in a string of TV guest roles the following year. However, her acting skills as a journalist in "Blue Bloods" served her pretty well for her chosen roles during that particular time. That's right, Stanley seems to feel quite comfortable sporting a press badge and asking some probing questions, at least for the sake of acting.

In 2016, in OVW's "Greenleaf," CMT's "Nashville," and Starz's "Survivor's Guilt," Stanley stuck to playing a reporter. While this might imply that Stanley has a background in journalism, it seems that this couldn't be further from the truth. As she revealed in an interview with Occhi Magazine, the actor majored in business administration and uses her degree to operate some personal entrepreneurial businesses when not acting.

Stanley went to prison for Orange Is the New Black

For a lot of her career, Stanley has usually portrayed characters that are law-abiding citizens. Sure, her reporter roles could ruffle some characters' feathers in "Blue Bloods" and "Nashville," but they don't really break the law. However, that changed during her appearances in the hit Netflix dramedy, "Orange Is the New Black." Starting in 2016, Stanley played Litchfield Penitentiary inmate Jayne Cooke. The series never explicitly explains why her character is in jail, but her appearances in the series are often related to drugs somehow.

In Season 4, Episode 7, "It Sounded Nicer in My Head," Nicky Nichols (Natasha Lyonne) encounters Cooke while searching for inmates who might have drugs to sell, and in Season 5, Episode 3, "Pissters!," Cooke is seen trying to get some pharmaceutical drugs for neck and back pain from Nicky and Lorna Morello Muccio (Yael Stone). However, Nicky and Lorna are in disbelief about Cooke's alleged body pain. Cooke is an entirely different character compared to Stanley's previous work, but the part definitely helps showcase some of the actor's range.

Stanley starred in some heartwarming Hallmark movies

Going from one extreme end to another, Stanley's work past "Orange is The New Black" landed in some lighter territory. In 2019, she appeared in the Hallmark Channel movie "Love to the Rescue." The film centers on a single mom named Kate (Nikki Deloach) who shares in adopting a rescue dog with a single dad named Eric (Michael Rady). As the two try to navigate the unusual adoption agreement, romance soon sparks. In the film, Stanley plays an animation studio boss named Terri who tries to encourage Kate to give her best on an important work project despite her chaotic personal life. 

Prior to "Love to the Rescue," Stanley was no stranger to Hallmark. She also starred in the 2016 Hallmark movie "Christmas in Homestead," but the role of Terri may have been the most comfortable for the actor. As Stanley told Occhi Magazine, her part as Terri was a very welcome one as it allowed her to tap back into her business education and background. It remains to be seen if Stanley will work on another Hallmark project in the future. Still, she also noted in the Occhi interview that, based on her positive experiences so far, it's not unlikely that she could end up working with the network again.