Stephanie Diani

As soon as Zuri Reed read the script for Disney+’s new show National Treasure: Edge of History, which premiered in December 2022, she was hooked. “I was immediately drawn to the script and the character,” the 26-year-old exclusively tells GRAZIA USA. “Tasha just seemed so much like me already. I wanted the part so badly. I read with Lisette Olivera, who was amazing. Now, one year later, the show is out and people are loving it!”

In the series, Jess (Olivera) embarks on a new adventure to uncover the truth about her past. “Tasha is a social media star,” the brunette beauty explains of her character. “She’s a tech genius. She’s so smart in a different way from Jess, which makes them the perfect twosome to go on this hunt together. I learned a lot playing her. I don’t know too much about tech so to play a character where that is her whole life was cool and different. She’s also so funny — yet a genius. The best of both worlds!”

It was a thrill for Reed to be able to tap into Tasha’s mind by watching YouTube videos about the tech world, but she also loves playing someone who is so “authentic” in her day-to-day life. “But the most challenging part was learning the monologues throughout the season,” she notes. “You can memorize lines all day long but to understand the words you’re saying and what the character is doing in that moment can be tough.”

The actress also enjoyed getting to work alongside her amazing cast, which includes Lyndon Smith, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Justin Bartha, who was in the original three movies, Olivera, Jake Austin Walker and more. “We’re all best friends,” Reed gushes. “I didn’t realize they would cast my best friends in this — not only do we get along on-screen, but the chemistry is real off-screen, too. Having everyone by my side every day was truly amazing.”

The first movie, which debuted in 2004 and starred Nicholas Cage, Diane Kruger, Bartha and Harvey Keitel, who also reappears in the Disney+ show, follows Ben Gates (Cage) as he searches for a rumored treasure in the United States. Before Reed was tapped for the role, she watched the flicks. “It’s a total full circle moment,” she notes. “I am from Philadelphia, which is where the Liberty Bell is and other monuments that were filmed in National Treasure. That was my first experience seeing where I was from shown on the big screen at a young age.”

“Being able to act alongside Justin and Harvey is a pinch me moment,” she adds. “There was one day where Justin and I had a scene together, and it was thundering outside. We sat for a while and talked about how he got cast and working on the first movie.”

Reed also got the pleasure of being in Zeta-Jones’ presence. “She’s so humble and so willing to allow you to play around, which isn’t always the case with some actors,” she says. “It was great. I learned so much from her every day.”

Stephanie Diani

Now that the show has been out for some time — and the reviews have poured in — Reed is still getting used to being in the spotlight. “I couldn’t be happier. You film a show and you never know how people will react. It’s special to be able to keep the franchise going,” she says. “National Treasure is the coolest history lesson — we’re going off real facts, but there are obviously fictionalized treasure hunts, too. I hope people can learn something new. There’s also so many Easter eggs to the original movies. There’s something for everyone. We’re praying for season 2, of course. Fingers crossed! Tasha goes through a really big change at the end and a certain situation causes her to reevaluate her whole belief system.”

For Reed to play such a badass woman in tech — and to be among other strong female cast members — is the cherry on top of it all. “There’s something extra special about having women in the forefront of something and to show the next generation that you can do it all. You can be anything, and the options are endless. People don’t need to put you in a box; the limit does not exist,” she declares.

“I’m really big on leading by example,” she adds. “I had really good influences in my life growing up, including my mom and other women I looked up. I also looked up to Gabrielle Union and Raven-Symoné, so the thought of possibility being a role model in the future humbles me. I’m so happy people can see themselves in me. The sky is the limit.”

From the get-go, Reed, who describes herself as “a really outspoken kid,” was super dramatic and outgoing, knew acting was in her future. At 9 years old, she auditioned for The Lion King on Broadway and scored the role. “I was like, ‘This is what I am supposed to be doing.'”

Stephanie Diani

As for what’s next, Reed is manifesting playing a princess. “It’s kind of every little girl’s dream,” she shares. “But I don’t know what kind of princess I’d like to be — maybe a badass princess or one that saves the world. That would make me very happy to take that on. There weren’t many Black princesses growing up, so I would love to add myself to that category.”

Additionally, Reed, who recently appeared in the Showtime series Flatbush Misdemeanors and created an original animated series on YouTube called Roomies 3F, considers herself a writer. “I’d love to create more projects in the future,” she states. “I’m also working on a series that’s not animated. It’s a live comedy series, so maybe you’ll see it on the screen soon!”

National Treasure: Edge of History is now streaming on Disney+.