By Grambling State University
Next week will be a cause for celebration and remembrance as Grambling State University holds its Spring 2022 commencement exercises on May 12. Unique to this semester’s ceremonies is the awarding of a posthumous degree to the late Natalie Desselle Reid and Zaria Griffith during the 2 p.m. commencement ceremony to be held in the Fredrick C. Hobdy Assembly Center and streamed live on Grambling State’s YouTube Channel.
A native of Alexandria, Louisiana, actress Natalie Desselle Reid graduated from Peabody Magnet High School and attended Grambling State University for 2 1/2 years. The acting bug bit her after a starring role in Grambling State’s production of “Bubbling Brown Sugar.” After several productions as a thespian, she decided to move to Los Angeles and test the waters. Realizing Hollywood was not aware of her “arrival,” she became a receptionist, a soul food waitress, and lastly a tank mechanic at McDonnell Douglas.
Her break came when Robi Reed cast her in F. Gary Gray’s “Set It Off” which led to a guest-starring role on television’s “Family Matters.” After her initial foray into Hollywood, she found herself looking for opportunities while living in Inglewood, California, and then the call came. The role that established her as a comedic thespian aka “the funny chick” in Robert Townsend’s” B.A.P.S”, starring opposite Halle Berry. The films “How to be a Player”, “Cinderella” and televisions “Built to Last” and “For Your Love” followed.
In the 2000s, she played Janie Egins on the television show “Eve” for three seasons, and had one of her last film roles in Tyler Perry’s Madea’s Big Happy Family (2011). Her most cherished production was her family, which included her husband Lenny Reid and their three children Sereno, Summer, and Sasha. Her family will be present to receive the honorary Bachelor of Arts degree in Visual and Performing Arts in her memory.
A native of Chicago, Illinois, Zaria Griffith graduated from South Shore International College Preparatory High School in 2017 where she was an honor student who excelled at ROTC, tumbling, gymnastics and cheerleading. As a natural born leader, Zaria served as Captain of the cheer squad and led her peers on the mat and in the classroom. During her high school career, her interest in the health profession led her to participate in the medical program where she obtained her phlebotomy license upon graduation.
She attended Central State University and continued her love for cheerleading as a member of the university cheer team where she bonded with her Cheer-Phi members. In 2018, she transferred to her first choice school, Grambling State University, in Grambling, Louisiana. She was a proud Tiger participating as a Grambassador and Senior Associate Justice in Student Government Association. She excelled academically making the Dean’s List every semester. She will receive the honorary Bachelor of Sciences degree in Biology in her memory.