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Newsmaker

Randallstown native Liris Crosse lands recurring role on NBC’s ‘Law & Order: Organized Crime’

When Liris Crosse found out that she landed a recurring role on NBC’s “Law & Order: Organized Crime” she was trying to find a parking spot near her Brooklyn apartment. She broke down when she received the call from her agent and acting coach.

“I started to ugly cry,” she said. “I thought, ‘It’s really happening.’”

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For Crosse, 43, the news caught her off guard. After giving what she called a “great audition,” the Randallstown native said she didn’t hear anything from the show and assumed she didn’t get the role.

“All this work I had done in quarantine had paid off,” Crosse said. “I was returning to TV in a way that people would least expect it.”

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Crosse debuted last week on the show as cop Tanisha Carling. And she’s pretty tight lipped about the particulars of her character.

“She is part of a group of cops that Elliott Stabler [Christopher Meloni] begins to know. That’s pretty much all I can say at this point,” she said.

After a little more prying, she divulges: “In this week’s episode, you’ll definitely see a scene with me. It’s a build [a term referring to her role’s development] with the character and you don’t know where the character is going. You just have to keep watching.”

NBC declined to comment.

Early in the pandemic, Crosse made the decision to dedicate herself to wellness and acting because she wanted to move in a new direction. That meant working with a trainer, changing her diet and meeting virtually with New Mexico-based acting coach Curtis Bechdholt.

“I haven’t even had the pleasure of meeting him in person yet,” she admitted.

When Crosse told people that she was shifting her focus to acting, she received opposition, despite early acting experience with parts in the movie “The Best Man” and the television show “The Night Of.”

But she wanted to take her acting to the next level.

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“Some people might have thought it was crazy to pay for acting during quarantine when there weren’t any auditions, but it paid off,” she said. “I knew I wanted to be prepared when things opened back up.”

Previously, Crosse had carved a distinct career as a successful model. Fans of “Project Runway” remember Crosse, who won the modeling portion of season 16. That year, she also made history by being one of the first plus-sized models to compete on the show. Crosse, who was known as “Naomi Campbell of Plus,” had established herself already as a successful model, walking the runways of Europe.

There was even talk about bringing Crosse back to the show as a guest judge. But when the show switched from Lifetime to Bravo, those hopes were dashed.

“I was a little bummed, but I said: ‘What is next?’”

What’s next is immersing herself in the vast Law & Order universe and acting in general.

“You are always auditioning and reading,” said Crosse, adding that she’s turned in five self takes [auditions] for other projects in the past two weeks. “If it’s your time, it’s your time.”

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Crosse is spending as much time as she can soaking up the entire Law & Order experience. And that means studying veteran actors on the show such as Meloni, who is also an executive producer, Denis Leary and Dylan McDermott.

“I may still stick around to watch their scene and I will be getting a free master class in acting,” she said. “If I was to learn any type of way to get ready for the next level of acting, I’m blessed to be on this set and soak up everything.”

Landing a role on a “Law & Order” show is a huge accomplishment for Crosse as an actress, according to Thea Washington, Baltimore-based casting director whose work has included projects for HBO, Disney, BBC, OWN and Bravo.

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“In my free time I love to watch old episodes of ‘Law & Order’ because you’ll see the biggest stars of today. Bradley Cooper, Cynthia Nixon, John Stamos, and Viola Davis. My favorite part is finding people who weren’t as big when they appeared, but became big after their time there,” Washington said.

“I believe that just like the other people that were featured when they were a little less known, you’ll see her catapult into mainstream. It’s almost like ‘Law & Order’ solidifies you as an actor,” Washington explained. “I think this will help her career tremendously and we will start to see her on everything.”

Washington has been a fan of Crosse’s since early in the 2000s when she spotted Crosse in the music video for “Who Am I?” by Beenie Man, where she played his love interest.

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“When I saw her, a Black woman who was thicker and vivacious, it made me emotional,” she said. “She was not light skin, or petite, and didn’t have Eurocentric features. I will always root for her.”

Crosse said the reaction to the news of her appearing on the show has been overwhelming.

“It feels good. I’ve been getting so much love from friends, family and Project Runway fans,” she said. “Randallstown High School, we did it, babe! Bmore, standup.”

This article is part of our Newsmaker series, which profiles notable people in the Baltimore region who are having an impact in our diverse communities. If you’d like to suggest someone who should be profiled, please send their name and a short description of what they are doing to make a difference to: Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Editor Kamau High at khigh@baltsun.com.


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