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Sarah Shahi Is CBS’ New Nancy Drew

CBS has swiped one of its shining stars from 'Person of Interest' to star in its original drama series

MainImgDrew

Sarah Shahi from ‘Person of Interest’ is set to play a grown-up Nancy Drew in the eponymously titled CBS pilot ‘Drew’.

The drama is set around Nancy (Shahi), now in her thirties, having grown up from her childhood girlfriends’ adventures with Bess and George as per the books. CBS’ Nancy joins the NYPD and becomes a star for her excellent skill—until she arrests the wrong guy and is publicly called out for it, thus forcing her to quit the force. As we find her, Drew’s struggling to claw back to the confident persona we all knew and loved.

At the Television Critics’ Association Winter Tour, CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller revealed of the Nancy Drew development: “She is diverse, that is the way she is written. I’d be open to any ethnicity.” He also stressed: “We have a lot of new series in development, both series targeted to have full African-American or Latino casts but also many leads that are being developed [as diverse]. We’re not casting color-blind, we’re casting color-conscious. It’s not ‘the best actor wins,’ it’s the right roles for diversity. … It really is about being conscious of what America looks like. It is always going to change, it’s going to evolve, and we’re aware of that, which is why we’re making efforts every year to get more diverse.”

Originally appearing in Edward Stratemeyer’s books in 1930, the beloved, amateur sleuth has evolved ever since—and span off into a large franchise, encompassing the Nancy Drew Mystery Stories and the Nancy Drew Files. The Nancy Drew books were dearly loved, with a surplus of 200 million sales and the character herself has been stated by stars such as Gloria Steinem, Nancy Pickard and Keri Russell to be an inspiration and a fantastic role-model for girls.

Nina Tassler, the CBS President, has been pushing for female empowerment in the industry despite being at the head of a highly male-dominated channel.  She says: “Creating opportunities for women has been a big part of my philosophy for decades.” And that has indeed proved true—with leading women such as Julianna Margulies at the head of ‘The Good Wife’, Patricia Arquette leading ‘CSI: Cyber’ and most recently, Melissa Benoist as the fresh-faced hero ‘Supergirl’.

The ‘Drew’ pilot will be written by Joan Rater (‘Grey’s Anatomy’) and Tony Phelan (‘Madam Secretary’) and directed by Dan Jinks (‘Pushing Daisies’). Together, the trio will executive produce as well. Shahi will be joining a cast of Anthony Edwards (‘ER’) as Nancy’s adoptive father, Vanessa Ferlito (‘Graceland’) as George and Felix Solis (‘NYC 22’, ‘The Good Wife’) as a fellow detective. Recently, Steve Kazee (‘Shameless’) has been cast as the male co-lead Ned, an investigative news reporter and Nancy’s ex. Shahi, widely acclaimed for her role as Sameen Shaw on Person of Interest, has a wide and diverse television background including roles in ‘Life’, ‘Fairly Legal’ and ‘The L Word’.

As for ‘Person of Interest’—not all hope is lost, but with CBS still silent on a season five airdate, and TVLine’s findings that Shahi’s contract with ‘Drew’ put the show in first position or priority ahead of anything, including a potential sixth season of ‘Person of Interest’—the future is immensely unclear, murky and frustratingly, CBS remains tight-lipped about this. It does mean, though, that surely CBS have considered an allowance for Shahi should she want to take on other projects like ‘Person of Interest’ too, be it on CBS or elsewhere. However, on a positive note: it’s about time the hard-working and hugely talented Sarah Shahi bagged herself a sleuthing, confident female lead role. With the charisma, stunt ability and subtle emotive acting skill she’s most recently displayed on ‘Person of Interest’, she is bound to be a splendid, top detective, kickass Nancy Drew.

I’ll leave you with a classic quote to enjoy: “When threatened with a hairbrush by a vicious woman, remain calm and speak in cold level tones.” (Somehow, I think Nancy Drew’s mentality is different to Sameen Shaw’s).

10 Comments

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  1. as a POI fan this news broke my heart. As a Sarah fan, this news made me really happy for her. she’s going to be brilliant as the female lead and i hope shes successful. Nancy Drew is sure a famous and well loved character. but im gonna miss Shaw.

    The quote at the end made me laugh. As sad as I am about this with regards to PoI that cheered me up. thank you – you always hit the right tone in your articles, no matter what you’re reporting.

    • Indeed…I think I’m in the same predicament as you’re in, Jenn. Thank you–and we haven’t seen the last of Shaw yet–we haven’t even seen a trailer or any episodes of season five, and with POI I have 100% faith in the writers they’ll deliver an amazing season and mic drop. I do hope for Sarah that Drew does well. I think it’s well-deserved and about time Sarah got a lead role like this!

  2. I wish she could play Shaw forever. But totally understand Shahi’s stance on this and its her chance to be a female lead. As kickass Shaw is, this could be a real opportunity. Now I just wish CBS would give us an airdate. I share your frustration on that but I like that you spin it positively on drawing from her experience especially on POI that’ll make her a great Nancy Drew.

    • Oh me too. Me too, bud. Yeah, exactly–I think Sarah’s just so charismatic and brings so much life to the show, and beyond the show in comic cons and interviews, that she’s an absolute treasure. I’m excited for her and her career that she’s got a lead role–as a grown up Nancy Drew, too! Thank you, Daryn!

  3. This is the only article of yours I didn’t want to read 🙁 not because of your writing talent – you have that in spades – but because of the news. As a POI fan, this fills me with a lot of sadness. But for Sarah, this is amazing news and I wish her all the best, shes going to be amazing and ‘Drew’ will be lucky to have her as a lead.

    • Me too. I’ll miss the day we don’t get Shaw gleefully sniping multiple bulky dudes out of a window in a matter of seconds. But I’m very optimistic about the new season which I’m sure will be fantastic and contains a Shaw-centric episode! And you never know–if Netflix viewership figures are good, POI could get a season six depending on what the other cast members move on to and when. That’s very optimistic of me, but I guess we can celebrate we’ve had an absolutely kickass character, possibly one of the best, to grace our TV screens. Shaw is just brilliant. And indeed, I think this is amazing news for Sarah. She never seems to stop working! I hope this works out well for her! Indeed, ‘Drew’ have landed a pot of gold!

  4. Oh the only article of yours I couldn’t handle – because of the news! I’m really happy for Sarah though. And we still haven’t seen POI yet so I’m really expecting an amazing season 5 for them to bow out and truly leave us with a masterpiece we’ll remember forever. I will always remember POI, and always Shaw too. Sarah just excelled in that role. But I am happy for her and looking forward to her leading a show, especially as a Detective too, I hope she gets to kick some ass like POI!

    • Oh aye I understand completely. I’m a POI fan too, but there are still 13 (and I believe) epic episodes to air, and I can’t wait to see the whole gang including Shaw blow our minds in them. I’m in total agreement with you–and absolutely! I adore Sarah Shahi, so I’m super excited to see what she can do in leading a show of her own (for such a beloved character too!)

  5. I’m so angry with CBS. CBS have been messing around with the POI fandom since the beginning, not giving us airdates, not giving us anything – and then they poach one of POI’s best characters for their own pilot? That’s so stupid and I hate them for it. I hate the way they treat POI like it’s garbage, it’s so unfair – they never promote it, but they always promote their own shows like Limitless which is just dire.

    I’m very happy for Sarah Shahi though. She’s very talented, badass and super nice and cheery. If anyone deserves a lead role it’s her and I have no doubt she can carry this Nancy Drew role forwards.

    • It does indeed suck – especially – I mean, it’s an airdate. Even an airdate would be fantastic. It is quite startling because POI is both critically and numerically one of the best-performing shows on CBS, so to get that kind of treatment is a bitter pill to swallow. The originality of the show for me will never be forgotten. I share your sentiments though, and indeed, though as a POI fan myself too, I am a little down–I am still looking forward to what I think will possibly be the best season of TV yet to air of anything, potentially, ever. Indeed–if anyone’s as charismatic and hard-working to land a leading role, it surely goes to Ms. Shahi. All the best to her!

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