Pauley Perrette is a well-known name in the acting industry thanks to her role as the forensic scientist named Abby Sciuto on “NCIS,” who has an enduring gothic aesthetic. However, Perrette’s life didn’t begin there. Prior to appearing on CBS’s popular crime drama “NCIS,” she went through a lot.
Although Perrette was raised all over the country, she was born and raised in New Orleans, Louisiana. Her family relocated frequently due to her father’s work, and she reportedly lived in at least 14 different locations in total, according to Biography. Her family typically resided in the southern region of the country, and she spent a large portion of her teenage years in Atlanta, Georgia. The actress actually “considers Alabama her hometown,” according to Perrette’s author biography for Simon & Schuster, where she published the book “Donna Bell’s Bake Shop: Recipes and Stories of Family, Friends, and Food.”
Perrette grew to love reading as a child, with a particular interest in crime and science. She made the decision to attend Valdosta State College after graduating from Crestwood High School to further her interests. Before pursuing a master’s degree in criminology at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, Perrette continued her passion for studying criminal justice and science in college. In some ways, “NCIS” helped her realize her dream of becoming a police officer or federal agent, but she got diverted when she learned about acting.
So what changed Perrette’s mind about pursuing her dream job in criminal justice and kept her from doing it?
Pauley Perrette had an early passion for criminal justice and humanitarian work
Perrette made ends meet while residing in NYC by working part-time jobs like bartending. She began working in entertainment after being introduced to a director by a coworker, landing a range of roles in commercials, music videos, voice work, and other projects (CBS). Perrette developed a new love for acting as a result, and she soon relocated to Los Angeles to pursue her career.
Perrette’s interest in criminal justice persisted despite this. On “America’s Most Wanted” in 2007, Perrette used her fame to draw attention to unsolved crimes like the killings of Raven Jeffries in Detroit, Michigan, and Shannon Paulk in Prattville, Alabama. Perrette gave each city a $10,000 donation to aid in the inquiries. Even though the murders took place many years ago and the episode aired more than a decade ago, there are still no solutions in either case (WSFA12, WXYZ7).
In addition to calling attention to unsolved crimes and other issues with the criminal justice system, Perrette has promoted civil rights and engaged in a lot of other humanitarian work for which she has been recognized with numerous awards and honors. For instance, Perrette received the Tom Mankiewicz Leadership Award in 2013 for her efforts to preserve wildlife throughout the world (Wall Street Journal). Perrette most recently fought “Proposition 8,” a proposed constitutional amendment that would ban same-sex marriage in the state of California (Advocate).
Perrette’s love of music and singing
Perrette is talented in acting, criminology, and music in general, particularly singing. Perrette sang vocals for the all-female rock band “Lo-Ball” before she was cast as Abby on “NCIS.” The group included Perrette, who went by the stage name “Pauley P,” along with J.C. on rhythm guitar, Katie on bass guitar, Lissa on lead guitar, and Claudia on drums, according to Last.fm.
In 2001, Perrette did an interview on behalf of her band with Dave Schwartz, discussing the origin of the group in April 2000 and their perspective to “just play what we love, the way we love it” (via Showbiz Cheat Sheet). The band sold out shows across the U.S., even playing at the Bryant Park fashion show and the historic Mercury Lounge in NYC. Along with that, the song “Can’t Get Me Down” by “Lo-Ball” featured in the hit film “Legally Blonde.”
As soon as Perrette began working as an actor full-time, she incorporated her passion for singing into her roles. Perrette’s song “Fear” from Season 6, Episode 25, “Aliyah,” and the official soundtrack both appeared on “NCIS.” She made appearances on the hip-hop songs “Fire In Your Eyes” by B. Taylor and “Attention Please” by DMC in 2011. (via PRNewswire).
The actress found success as Abby Sciuto on NCIS
When Perrette was about 34 years old, she struck it rich when she was chosen for the CBS “NCIS” series, a spinoff of the wildly successful “JAG” TV program. Abby, a forensic scientist with a distinctive gothic appearance, is Perrette’s character. Abby may visually stand out from the rest of her team due to her dark hair, thick bangs, and extremely edgy clothing choices, but her work ethic and intelligence are right in line with the rest of them. Abby is incredibly likable and perceptive, and she gives the NCIS team crucial information that aids in solving each case. Perrette gained considerable fame and notoriety from her appearance as Abby on “NCIS,” which she used to her advantage in charitable work and other humanitarian endeavors.
“NCIS” follows a group of special agents working for the National Criminal Investigative Service and also features Mark Harmon, Cote de Pablo, Michael Weatherly, David McCallum, and Sean Murray. They work together to resolve numerous cases of serious felonies in the area. Over the course of fifteen seasons, Abby repeatedly jeopardizes her life. In Season 15, Abby experiences one violent attempt on her life, which proves to be too much for her, and she leaves the NCIS off-screen to work for a British organization. Perrette worked on “NCIS” from 2003 until her formal departure in 2018. The TV show continues to play a significant role in Perrette’s life because of the impact Abby had on the program and its viewers.
What led to Perrette leaving NCIS and acting
Unfortunately, there are some similarities between Abby’s violent experience and a few majorly impactful incidents in Perrette’s own life. Coyote Shivers, Abby’s abusive ex-husband, had a tense relationship with her and harassed her throughout their traumatic divorce (Fox News). Perrette was also attacked by a homeless man outside her Los Angeles home in 2015, leaving her with severe scarring (CBSLA). But Perrette’s decision to leave the CBS crime show wasn’t motivated by her internal turmoil. Instead, on-set violence was what prompted this choice.
When Perrette made the decision to leave “NCIS” in 2018, she gave her co-star Harmon’s altercation on the set as a major contributing factor. Of course, it wasn’t shocking if one of the cast members wanted to leave after spending 15 years on a TV show. In actuality, “NCIS” original main cast members de Pablo and Weatherly had already parted ways on their own terms. For Perrette, however, that was not the case. Perrette revealed how Harmon’s dog bit a “NCIS” crew member, requiring 15 stitches, in a shocking string of tweets. Perrette disagreed with Harmon’s decision to bring his dog back to set even after this incident, which caused a lot of discomfort for those around him this. Perrette didn’t feel safe or at ease working on “NCIS” any longer as a result of the issue’s escalating tension between the two actors.
After leaving the show, Perrette appeared in the one-season, short-lived CBS sitcom “Broke,” but she has now decided to stop acting altogether. The actress declared that she was “happily retired” as of the end of last year and that she had no upcoming contracts with any businesses (via TVfanatic).