EXCLUSIVE: New 'NCIS: New Orleans' Regular Vanessa Ferlito Teases Her Introduction, Talks 'Devastating' Secret

Actress Vanessa Ferlito talks to ET about joining the CBS franchise.

A new face is coming to NCIS: New Orleans, and she’s hoping to make an immediate impact.

Vanessa Ferlito
, who previously starred on USA’s Graceland, joins the CBS procedural this season as a new series regular, where she will play FBI Special Agent Tammy Gregorio, a character who has traumatic ties to New Orleans.

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For Ferlito, whom viewers will meet in the season three premiere, returning to the CBS family -- after appearing on CSI: NY early in her career and starring in a pilot, Drew, that failed to get picked up -- was almost fortuitous.

“When Graceland ended, I was like ‘You know what? I’m ready to do this all the time,’” the 38-year-old actress and single mother of one shared in a recent interview with ET. “I wanted to be on a show where I’m working all year long. I have a son who is 9 years old. It’s important to work and have somewhere to go every day.”

“I was ready for this, and you have to be, because it’s a lot of work. I asked the universe to send this to me and I got it,” Ferlito added.

Ferlito is best known for her recent two-season arc as the troubled Charlie on Graceland, and she said there is a common thread with her character on NCIS: New Orleans, who the team discovers is there to investigate them.

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“Tammy has skeletons in her closet as well,” Ferlito said, before explaining how her new alter ego will also be different. “Tammy comes into this group of people that’s very tight-knit -- they have a unique way of running things -- and she’s a whirlwind. They don’t know what to expect from her or what she really wants.”

Ferlito revealed that Tammy’s introduction isn’t met with immediate acceptance from the group, as she’s “all business” and “no nonsense” in the beginning. She does, however, find a confidante in the head of the NCIS: New Orleans crew, Pride (Scott Bakula).

“It’s almost like [Pride] wants her there. He wants her around. He’s not fighting to get rid of her,” she said, revealing that Percy (Shalita Grant) and LaSalle (Lucas Black) are slower to welcome Tammy. “They grow to respect each other and they actually work really well together. After spending some time with them, she starts to see how unique their process is, and that there’s nothing shady about it at all.”

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Eventually though, as Tammy’s past start to come out, the team’s perceptions of her begin to shift.

“Her skeletons involve New Orleans, so she’s fiercely trying to protect that because she feels like if they find out, then maybe they will think different of her or question her authority,” Ferlito hinted, adding that the secret “is a heavy burden that she carries.”

“It’s pretty devastating,” she said of Tammy’s secret, adding that “a lot of people suffer.” “It’s not her -- it’s somebody she was associated with. We’ve all been involved with somebody who wasn’t healthy for us, right?”

NCIS: New Orleans
premieres Tuesday at 10 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.