Sarah Shahi Is CBS’ New Nancy Drew


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).

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