The Transformation Of NCIS Star Diona Reasonover From A Child To 29 Years Old

If you watch "NCIS," then you're probably familiar with Diona Reasonover, the whip-smart, hysterically funny actor who plays quirky forensic scientist Kasie Hines in the long-running CBS series. The character debuted in the 17th episode of Season 15, called "One Man's Trash," sharing the lab with resident quirky scientist Abby, played by Pauley Perrette. Kasie then appeared in that season's last two episodes, after Abby's final appearance in Episode 22. Reasonover was quickly promoted to series regular for the 16th, 17th, and 18th seasons (per TVLine), filling the void left by longtime cast member Perrette. Reasonover will be back again as Kasie in the 19th season, airing in fall 2021.

If you don't watch "NCIS," then you may not know much about Reasonover, especially since a lot of what she has done in Hollywood was behind the scenes. While a scene-stealing character actor in small roles on sitcoms like "Superstore," "Grace and Frankie," "Transparent," and "2 Broke Girls," plus an ensemble role in a short-lived TBS sitcom, Reasonover is also known as a writer, per IMDb. She's contributed multiple episodes to educational and political comedy series, including the Sarah Silverman vehicle "I Love You, America" and TruTV's "Adam Ruins Everything," starring Adam Conover.

While waiting for the new season of "NCIS" to premiere, let's investigate the life and career of this fun actor, writer, and comedian.

How growing up in Detroit influenced Diona Reasonover's comedy

Like modern comedy actors Keegan-Michael Key and Sam Richardson from "Veep," Diona Reasonover was born in Detroit, on January 6, 1992. Growing up in the Michigan city watching TV shows and movies with her father, she became a fan of the comedy genre. "I think we're just born resilient and comedy is about resilience," she told the Detroit Free Press about herself and her fellow Detroit citizens. She and her dad loved the Steve Martin movie "The Jerk" (still her favorite), and they watched reruns of "Cheers" on videocassette. She is also a huge fan of Whoopi Goldberg. "I love her. I want to become Whoopi Goldberg," she said. "I'm just going to start wearing comfortable pants and dark glasses."

Reasonover was a "math geek" at Renaissance High School in Detroit, and studied and performed at the Mosaic Youth Theatre, a program that provides arts education and experience for hundreds of Detroit teens. She performed in shows locally across Detroit as well as internationally.

After high school, Reasonover attended Oberlin College, where she graduated with a bachelors in theater and dance, per Booktrib. She also studied at the California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita, Calif., and received a masters degree in acting. Thinking that acting wouldn't be stable enough, as she told Urban Magazine, Reasonover was passionate about art history and education, and thought she might build a career as a museum curator. But fate had other plans.

Museum jobs didn't hold up to acting and improv for Diona Reasonover

After graduating from the California Institute of the Arts, Diona Reasonover used the alumni services to get a job at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, via Booktrib. But there was nothing else that satisfied her desire more than acting did. She first wanted to be a Shakespearean actor, but found it "depressing," she told Urban Magazine. "Wow! My characters have to kill themselves on scene every day!" she said, and started looking for something different. "I started doing comedy just to lighten my mood a little bit."

She decided to expand her acting experience by entering into the improv comedy world. Per Booktrib, she ended up working with two of the biggest improv comedy troupes in the country: she won a scholarship to Second City, learning writing, stand-up, and improv, and began working with the Upright Citizen's Brigade (UCB). She sharpened both her writing and her performing skills in these theaters.

In 2014, Reasonover participated in the CBS Diversity Sketch Comedy Showcase, according to Booktrib, an annual event sponsored by the network to feature the work of diverse artists. Her star appearance gained her industry attention, and she became the first Black female (and lesbian) head writer for the program in 2015. She also landed roles in three pilots. One of which proved to be her breakout role, despite being short-lived.

Diona Reasonover worked with one of her dad's idols

Finally given a big shot in front of the camera, Diona Reasonover landed the role of sharp-tongued hairdresser Charmaine Eskowitz on the cute but short-lived TBS sitcom "Clipped." Casting director Julie Ashton cast Reasonover after seeing her in the CBS Diversity Showcase, via The Blot, and she was perfect for it. "I got this part by being who I am, and I'd like to continue being who I am," she told The Blot."I'm a queer person of color playing a queer person of color on TV. I'm really bringing myself to the role."

Reasonover was in good company, playing opposite "High School Musical" alum Ashley Tisdale and comedy legend George Wendt, who played Norm in "Cheers" — the show Reasonover grew up with. "When I was growing up, my dad really shaped me as a comedian based on what he showed me. One thing was 'Cheers,'" Reasonover said, explaining how emotional it was for her to work with Wendt. "My family was not super supportive of my sexuality. The fact that one of my father's idols is playing a queer character in an interracial relationship, and I'm a queer person in an interracial relationship, it's like we're practically the same person," she laughed.

Though Reasonover played a character very much like herself, she also based the character — at least her voice — on her sister Lisa. "Seriously, if you call her on the phone, that's exactly what she sounds like," she said.

Diona Reasonover reveals the importance of playing queer Black characters

Though "Clipped" was not the star vehicle they hoped it would be, there was more on track for Diona Reasonover. She continued to write and act in various projects, like Adam Conover's TruTV series, "Adam Ruins Everything," contributing to 14 episodes in 2016. In 2017, she wrote the episode "This is Not a Love Letter" for the Kathryn Hahn-led Amazon series "I Love Dick." Exercising her educational, political, and activist muscles, Reasonover also wrote for 10 episodes of the Sarah Silverman series "I Love You, America" on Hulu, even appearing on the show from time to time.

Reasonover has always been outspoken about her sexuality, and has enjoyed being able to play queer characters of color. "One of the more 'interesting' things I've been told is that I don't really have to be gay to qualify as diverse, that being Black is enough diversity," she told The Blot. "But if that's the case, then we'll only get to hear the stories of Caucasian queer folks. I want to hear everyone's story." Reasonover married actor-writer Patricia Villetto in 2018.

Reasonover also appeared in a string of single-episode character roles in various shows, including "Comedy Bang! Bang!," "Girl Meets World," "2 Broke Girls," "Transparent," and "Grace and Frankie." A couple of TV movies and a role in the 2017 film "The Night Watchmen" round out her IMDb profile. But her biggest role was yet to come.

Diona Reasonover had a health issue when auditioning for 'NCIS'

Diona Reasonover landed her biggest role to date in 2018 as scientist Kasie Hines in "NCIS." But Reasonover had a serious problem before she was cast: She had had knee surgery just two days before her scheduled audition, she told the New York Post. Fortunately, she was able to postpone it, but she was still on crutches when her audition happened, telling KTLA 5 that she was "walking a little bit like a baby deer." But everyone was kind and welcoming to her and made her feel comfortable.

Reasonover credits her other sister, Lydia, who is a doctor, for helping with her "NCIS" role. "She is the one who always helps me with those big, huge, multi-syllabic words," Reasonover told KTLA. "She helps me understand any kind of medical terms." She also hopes her character will inspire other women and people of color to enter STEM fields.

Diversity and representation are hugely important for the actor-writer, who hopes to have her own TV series one day (per Detroit Free Press). But audiences have to consider their own part in diversity. "It's easy for us to just sit back and blame studios, but we have to look at our own tastes and what we are giving our time and attention to," she told The Blot. "If you want more diversity, are you supporting the diverse shows? ... We really all have to work together to make it happen."