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Why Nichelle From S.W.A.T. Looks So Familiar

Since the character made her first appearance in Season 3 of "S.W.A.T.," Nichelle has become the trusting, loyal love interest of protagonist Daniel "Hondo" Harrelson (Shemar Moore). Over the past three seasons, the two have become as close as romantic partners could possibly be. And even though Hondo works a stressful job as the leader of his own S.W.A.T. team, the last season sees the two committing to starting a family together.

However, Nichelle is far more than just a side character to give our hero Hondo some emotional depth. After three consecutive seasons of the series, Nichelle is easily one of the more important recurring characters, even without being a cop. And, if you hadn't realized already, the actress who portrays Nichelle is one worthy of a major spot on such a popular TV series. Whether you have noticed it or not, she has appeared in numerous recognizable roles. From "White Chicks" to "Mistresses," she has spent the bulk of her career with a presence in at least one popular piece of media. Plus, those roles don't even really scratch the surface. Here is every role that makes Nichelle from "S.W.A.T." look so familiar.

Rochelle Aytes started out in White Chicks

Born in New York (per TV Guide), Rochelle Aytes first started appearing on TV during the early 2000s. Her first credit, according to IMDb, was a bit role in "Sex and the City," where she played a hostess in the episode "Great Sexpectations." And though such one-off appearances would come to define much of her early career, Aytes caught a decent first break in her next role as Denise Porter in the Wayans Bros. comedy "White Chicks."

Though "White Chicks" ended up being a notorious flop, and was nominated for five separate Razzies, the film managed to worm its way into the collective consciousness and still remains somewhat notable to this day. Because of that, it's likely that "White Chicks," despite its poor reception, ended up helping Aytes' career more than hampering it.

As time went on, her roles in television gradually increased in scope. She landed many bit roles in series like "Bones," "ER," and "CSI: NY," and she also played a role in 2006's "Madea's Family Reunion." In 2007, however, she earned her first recurring role in the series "Drive" as Leigh Barnthouse. From here on out, Aytes' career would have many more recurring roles, as well as some exciting film credits. 

Aytes' crime-drama career began with two short-lived shows

Following her stint on "Drive," which only lasted one season despite receiving an Emmy nomination, Rochelle Aytes continued her regular TV acting career. In 2008 and 2009, she appeared in two episodes of the FX series, "Dirt," before having a brief role in an episode of "NCIS" (via IMDb). 

Not long after this, Aytes' career really began to pick up speed as she landed more and more recurring roles, albeit short-lived ones, that cemented her in the crime-drama genre. In 2009, she landed a spot as Grace Russel on "The Forgotten," an ABC crime series that only lasted a single season. A similar situation happened the year after with her role as Alice Williams in another ABC drama, "Detroit 1-8-7," which also only lasted a season before going off the air. In the wake of these early cancellations, however, Aytes would land her most high-profile recurring role yet.

Aytes brought some drama to Desperate Housewives

In the pantheon of long-running drama series, "Desperate Housewives" needs no introduction. The series had an incredible eight-season run from 2004 to 2012 and won 7 Emmys in that time (via IMDb). Needless to say, it's no small potatoes that Rochelle Aytes would land a spot, even a temporary one, on such a successful series. She appeared in three episodes of the show's 7th season as Amber James. And while that's not an exceptionally lengthy role, her character did make an impact.

In Season 7, series lead Bree Van de Kamp (Marcia Cross) sparked a relationship with her then-contractor, Keith Watson (Brian Austin Green). Amber had been Keith's last girlfriend, and unbeknownst to him had become pregnant with his child six years prior to her appearing on Wisteria Lane. Bree was afraid that Keith learning this would cause him to leave to support his kid, so she tried to keep it a secret. In the end, though, he found out and did exactly as Bree feared, leaving her single once again.

Though it was short-lived, Aytes' character had successfully undone another of Bree Van de Kamp's relationships in just three episodes. Plus, Aytes' next big role would only be a year or two away.

Aytes linked up with a future on-screen flame for Criminal Minds

In 2013, two years after she appeared on "Desperate Housewives," Rochelle Aytes found her next big role in a mainstream television series. This time, she returned to crime drama to portray Savannah Hayes in "Criminal Minds." In total, Aytes appeared on the show 10 times across three years, making it her longest-held recurring role at the time (per IMDb).

Coincidentally, Savannah is extremely similar in many ways to Aytes' character on "S.W.A.T." Like Nichelle, Savannah plays a love interest to one of the show's major characters who works in law enforcement. To add the ultimate cherry on top, Savannah's beau, Derek Morgan, is also played by Shemar Moore. Long before the two actors had ever played the loving Nichelle and Hondo, they were ostensibly playing the same roles as Savannah and Morgan. Both on-screen couples even go on to start a family. All of this practice may be why their on-screen chemistry is so successful in "S.W.A.T."

"It was so easy working with Shemar on 'Criminal Minds,'" Aytes told TV Insider. "There was already this sense of comfort and familiarity between us. We fell back into it even though it was totally different characters."

Rochelle Aytes landed her most iconic role in Mistresses

Thus far, Rochelle Aytes has found success playing a variety of characters in a number of different TV dramas. In 2013, however, she had yet to land a recurring role that lasted past a single season. She had, at this point, appeared in "Criminal Minds," but it would be another year before Savannah would come back for a second episode. All that changed when Aytes was cast as one of the stars of a new ABC drama called "Mistresses."

In "Mistresses," Aytes played the role of April Malloy Nickelby, a struggling widow who must raise her child all on her own. "This is the largest character I've ever played, the most complex, the most challenging – this is the most work I've ever done, I have to say," Aytes said in an interview with AssignmentX, following the conclusion of the first season.

Despite the challenge, however, Aytes stuck around to play a major role in all four seasons of "Mistresses." This made her one of only four main characters in the series that remained in the spotlight for every season. Unfortunately, however, that spotlight ended when ABC canceled "Mistresses" in 2016 (via Deadline).

Aytes was in both Designated Survivor and Hawaii Five-0

Shortly after "Mistresses" ended, Rochelle Aytes found new work in two other prominent series. The first of these, Netflix's "Designated Survivor," marked new territory for Aytes. After a career filled with crime dramas and soap operas, "Designated Survivor" would be her first role in a political thriller. There, she played Senator Cowling, a seldom-seen character who acts as one of the many advisors to Thomas Kirkman (Kiefer Sutherland) whilst in office. Unfortunately, her character only appeared in three episodes.

In 2018, however, she moved back to the world of crime drama to play a character in the reboot of "Hawaii Five-O." Her character, Agent Greer, actually served as the main antagonist of Season 9. As a double agent for the Chinese, she leads Steve McGarrett (Alex O'Loughlin) on a mad dash across the world after evading (or escaping) capture on numerous occasions. Eventually, she met her bloody end after getting shot by Catherine (Michelle Borth).

Aytes got bloody in The Purge TV series

Rochelle Aytes' next and most recent, notable role came in 2019 with "The Purge" TV series. As with "Designated Survivor," this would be Aytes' first foray into a genre she had so far never had a chance to be a part of. A fan of horror herself, Aytes welcomed the new challenge with open arms.

"Acting in horror is different, depending on which side of the horror you're on; whether you're the murderer or murderee," Aytes said in an interview with Dread Central. "There could be a lot of screaming, and a lot of acting up terror, which is exhausting emotionally, as opposed to something else that could be emotional but it's just different. I think it's just more physically exhausting to do horror."

Aytes first appears in the second season of "The Purge," where she plays the character Michelle Moore. Thought to be in a happy marriage, Michelle's life changes as the titular Purge reveals that not everything in her domestic life was what it seemed.