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Grace Byers (née Gealey;[1] born July 26, 1984)[2] is an American actress, known for her role as Anika Calhoun in the Fox music-industry drama, Empire.

Grace Byers
Grace Gealey (25823471864).jpg
Byers in 2016
Grace Gealey

(1984-07-26) July 26, 1984 (age 35)
Years active2012–present
Trai Byers (m. 2016)

Early life

Grace Gealey was born in Butler, Pennsylvania July 26, 1984, and raised in the Cayman Islands from infancy.[3] She knows sign language due to having deaf parents.[4] After moving to the United States, she received her bachelor's degree in Theater Arts at the University of South Florida in Tampa.[3] Gealey later attended the University of California, Irvine, where she received her Master’s of Fine Arts in acting.[3]


Gealey then moved to New York City, where she performed Off-Broadway, including in Venus Flytrap: A Femme Noir Mystery, and Rent.[5][6] In 2013, she performed in the Chicago productions of The Misanthrope and Tartuffe.[7][8] In 2014, Gealey was cast as Anika Calhoun in the Fox musical prime time drama, Empire opposite Terrence Howard and Taraji P. Henson.[9][10] The series debuted on January 7, 2015.[11]

In 2017 Gealey was cast as Kate, a jazz singer and lounge owner, in the indie thriller Bent.[12]

In 2018 Gealey published a children's book titled I Am Enough, it's based on her experiences being bullied as a child for having deaf parents. She wrote it to empower children to love and accept themselves.[13]

Personal life

Gealey became engaged to her Empire costar Trai Byers in 2015.[14] She and Byers married on Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands on April 14, 2016.[15][16]



Year Title Role Notes
2015–2018 Empire Anika Calhoun Series regular
2018–2019 The Gifted Reeva Payge Series regular; 16 episodes
2019 Tales Edie Episode:"My Life"


Year Title Role Notes
2018 Bent Kate [12]


  • I Believe I Can (2020) 9780062667137 [17][18]
  • I Am Enough (2018) 9780062667120 [19][20]


  1. ^ Grace Byers verified Twitter page. Retrieved on June 22, 2016.
  2. ^ "Grace Gealey". Retrieved March 25, 2015. Note: While some sources give her birthplace as the Cayman Island, Gealey says she was born in Butler, Pennsylvania. See interview in, below.
  3. ^ a b c Gealey in Moise, Herlande (November 11, 2014). "Let's Talk About Beauty: Chatting up with Empire's Grace Gealey". Archived from the original on April 3, 2015. Retrieved May 10, 2015. I was born in Butler, PA to an American father and Afro-Caribbean mother. Our family moved to the Cayman Islands (my mother's native home) when I was about 2 years old.
  4. ^ Staff, The Doctors (16 April 2015). "Grace Gealey on Growing Up with Non-Hearing Parents". The Doctors. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  5. ^ "Cayman talent off-Broadway". Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  6. ^ "Cayman actor Grace Gealey Broadway experiences". Cayman 27. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  7. ^ "Review: The Misanthrope (Court Theatre)".
  8. ^ "Review: Tartuffe (Court Theatre)".
  9. ^ Lesley Goldberg. "Gabourey Sidibe Reunites With Lee Daniels on Fox's 'Empire'". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  10. ^ The Deadline Team. "Gabourey Sidibe Joins Fox Drama Pilot 'Empire' - Deadline". Deadline. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  11. ^ "Gealey graces TV in new FOX series". The Cayman Reporter. Retrieved 15 January 2015.
  12. ^ a b Kroll, Justin (24 March 2017). "'Empire' Star Grace Byers Joins Karl Urban and Sofia Vergara in 'Bent'". Variety. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  13. ^ Hair, Hype (23 October 2017). "Grace Byers' To Publish First Children's Book 'I Am Enough'". Hype Hair. Retrieved 31 May 2018.
  14. ^ Corinthios, Aurelie. "It's Official! Grace Gealey Shows Off Engagement 2015". People. Time Inc. Retrieved October 7, 2015.
  15. ^ "Empire Stars Trai Byers and Grace Gealey Have Secret Island Wedding". April 16, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
  16. ^ "Empire Stars Trai Byers and Grace Gealey Get Married in Caribbean Beach Wedding". Us Weekly. April 16, 2016. Retrieved April 16, 2016.
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External links