Barrett Chelsea Doss was born on March 20, 1989 in Minneapolis, Minnesota to a Caucasian mother, Kelly Skalicky, president of Stearns Bank, and an African American father, Karl Doss, a Litigation Attorney. Her parents divorced when she was a kid. Her mother came out when she was six years old and later married her longtime partner, Veronica, who shared parenting responsibilities. Her father married Pam, when Barrett was 7 years old and relocated to Virginia with his new family. Barrett has three half-siblings from that union, a brother, Donovan (born 1998), and two sisters, Natalie (born 2000) and Faith (born 2005).
She was raised in a blended and non-traditional family environment and moved around as a kid. The family first lived in Albuquerque, New Mexico, for two years; she then spent most of her childhood in Chicago, and later moved to New York City, where she completed her last two years of high school at the Professional Children’s School (PCS).
Barrett wasn’t just interested in performing, she was an athlete, swimming and playing basketball, like her mom who was a professional basketball player playing for the Minnesota Stars and a golfer competing in the U.S. Open three times.
She was introduced to musical theater as a kid when she spent four years as a member of the popular Chicago Children’s Choir. In middle school, she auditioned for her first stage musical through its theater program at the University of Chicago Lab School. It was during that time that she fell in love with acting and with the idea of embodying another person’s spirit on stage.
“I was in “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown”, playing Lucy. I believe I was in the 7th grade. I really loved making people laugh, mostly because I like to laugh myself. When I heard people laugh, I thought, that’s where I want to be. This is the feeling I want to have all the time.” – Showtickets (2017)
She became invested and participated in theater-focused and musical theater programs around the city. She later worked with Janet Louer, a private acting coach in Chicago, who was a big believer in her talent and abilities. Louer, who according to Barrett was a demanding teacher, felt that she could have a professional career in the performing arts, and continuously inspired, encouraged and pushed her out of her comfort zone.
It was due to Louer encouragement, that Barrett’s mother moved the family from Chicago to New York City, after Barrett’s sophomore year, to make it possible for her daughter to study and develop her craft for a professional career.
“My mother believed in me the most. When I failed, she was always there. When I needed a shoulder to cry on, she was there every time. I’m a firm believer in human connection and the importance of relationships, and no man is an island. I need close relationships to survive. And I’m so grateful every day for the faith that my mother instilled in me, and the amount of time and attention she has given me.” – Huffington Post (2017)
Though her mom had a strong hand in raising her and formed her as a human being, in many ways, she feels like she’s more like her dad at her core.
“My dad taught me that if something is meant to happen, then it’ll happen. My dad is incredibly patient and wise. He’s a quiet and reserved man; and very intelligent. He’s also the most compassionate person I know. I think the world of my dad.” – Huffington Post (2017)
She studied musical theater for one year at New York University and then moved into the school’s Gallatin program, where students design their own major. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 2011. While she still wanted to pursue acting, she got very discouraged after college and didn’t think it was going to work out.
“I was in a weird age bracket for what I thought my type was. And so I sort of feel like as an actor, I’ve been growing into myself as I’ve gotten older. It’s taken this long for me to sort of find my niche or understand what my niche is. But I was ready to throw into the towel.” – Broadway Style Guide (2017)
Barrett has been active in the theater world since moving to New York City at 16, doing plays in school, workshops and improv.
Barrett did several workshops throughout the years: Lynn Nottage’s “Unchained Memories” with Roundabout Theatre Company, the new musical “Canary” in 2007 with Playwrights Horizons directed by Rachel Chavkin, Branden Jacobs-Jenkins’ “An Octoroon” with New Ohio Theatre in 2012 and “Burned” in December 2015 with Clubbed Thumb directed by Benjamin Kamine.
She was part of two improv teams Glamour Shots with Ashley Lovell, Jayme Mattler, Rebecca Schoffer and Bailey Swilley and later Spirit Lips with the same girls minus Ashley Lovell. Together, they performed at Improv Festivals and clubs in 2014 and 2015.
In 2006, Barrett was cast in Thomas Bradshaw’s Off-Off-Broadway play “Cleansed”, which ran for three weeks in 2007 at The Brick. She played the mixed daughter of a black doctor and his white wife who faces growing up in a white-bread Indiana town. Her performance earned her an IT Award (New York Innovative Theatre Awards) nomination for Outstanding Actress in a Leading Role.
“The standout performance in Cleansed comes from the energetic Barrett Doss. Playing the confused child of a black father and white mother, Doss transforms strikingly from schoolyard rag doll to militant supremacist.” – Time Out (2007)
In April 2007, she appeared as Electra in “Orestes 2.0”, at HERE Arts Center, written by Chuck Mee and directed by José Zayas.
In May 2007, she was a part of “A Pageant of the 50 States (and more)” directed by Rachel Chavkin at Clubbed Thumb. A bizarre, funny and oddly moving anthem of place, space, and identity in America, PAGEANT consists of 59 one-minute playlettes representing every state and territory in the US of A.
In June 2008, while in her second year at New York University, Barrett played the leading role of Savannah, a Caribbean girl who longs for a life beyond her island, in the revival of Harold Arlen and E.Y. “Yip” Harburg’s 1957 Broadway musical “Jamaica”, at Prince Music Theater.
In 2011, she was all set to become a San Francisco cheesemonger after a series of fruitless auditions. Then Thomas Bradshaw – in whose 2007 one-act “Cleansed” she had played a fourteen-year-old biracial skinhead – cast her as prostitute Gretchen in his Off-Broadway play “Burning”, a decade-spanning ensemble drama about sexual identity, race, art and theatre, at The New Group.
In 2013, Barrett had her DC debut in “The Real Thing” where she played the leads witty and equally outspoken teenage daughter Debbie. Though her role was small, she still got some amazing reviews for her performance.
“Midway through the Second Act, a powerful and revealing scene between Henry and Debbie (a stunning turn by Barrett Doss in her DC Theatre debut), his witty and equally outspoken, teenage daughter is my favorite. Debbie is a mature seventeen-year-old determined to discover all truths and aspects of love – biology and carnal knowledge – as she details the topic with her father. And she doesn’t hesitate going toe-to-toe with Henry on what she thinks is his bigoted view of writing and his over value of high art in literature. “You judge everything as though everyone starts off from the same place, aiming at the same prize,” says Debbie in an energetic exchange.” – DC Metro Theater Arts (2013)
In the same year, she was part of a play based on Gertrude Stein’s “The World Is Round Is Round Is Round” which was adapted and directed by Karin Coonrod with music by Gina Lishman.
In 2014, she played Kate Dillon in David Lindsay-Abaire’s “Good People”.
“Barrett Doss plays Mike’s wife, Kate, an African American woman born to privilege. Doss conveys the warmth and hospitality that come easily only to the financially secure. When Kate complains of being mistaken for the nanny of her own child, Doss delicately shows how the badges of class and entitlement can be tough to read today. But they’re no less intractable. Margy doesn’t belong. Kate does. And Doss’ Kate will prove it if she must.” – Seven Days (2014)
In the same year, she made her Broadway debut as an understudy for multiple roles in the revival of Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman’s Pulitzer Prize-winning comedy “You Can’t Take It With You”. She landed the job within 72 hours of auditioning.
From August to September 2015, she played Luciana in The Old Globe theatre’s Summer Shakespeare Festival production of “The Comedy of Errors”, directed by seven-time Tony nominee Scott Ellis. Her boyfriend Austin Durant also appeared in it.
In 2016, Barrett performed in Martha Redbone’s “Bone Hill” which was commissioned by Joe’s Pub at the Public Theater as part of their New York Voices program; and co-commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Miami Light Project, and Pa’I Foundation.
In the same year, Barrett initially auditioned for the role of Nancy Taylor, for “Groundhog Day”, but when she received a call back, it was for the role of Rita Hanson. Between the time she went for the call back for the Rita role, she had another audition and call back for a television opportunity, a recurring role on “Iron Fist” on Netflix which she ultimately booked. It was her first recurring role for television and one she felt she could not turn down.
“If I had went to the call back for Groundhog Day, and couldn’t take the job, then it might have planted some bad seeds for my future with the casting director and the creative team, so I pulled out of the running for the Groundhog role. This is when the production was going to London.” – Huffington Post (2017)
Though Barrett had high hopes of starring in the role, she was thrilled when she received a final call back later in the year when the musical was headed to Broadway. The decision was made to cast an American for the role of Rita, a 36 year-old, intelligent, self-aware woman who has a great deal of compassion and love for life. In the context of the show, she goes through the journey of finding herself.
On April 17, 2017, the musical officially premiered on Broadway at the August Wilson Theatre and was a huge success with mainly positive reviews and it closed on September 17, 2017, after 176 performances and 32 previews.
“Groundhog Day” was nominated for seven Tony Awards including Best Musical and Barrett won the Theatre World Award for Outstanding Broadway or Off-Broadway Debut Performance in 2017.
In 2017, Barrett had her feature film debut alongside Chadwick Boseman in the film “Marshall” where she played Bertha Lancaster.
In 2013, Barrett landed her first TV role playing Liz Lemon’s great-granddaughter Eliza Lemon on “30 Rock”. She appeared in the very last scene of the series. She is very proud of that little cameo since the show is one of her all time favorites.
She guest starred in several television series throughout the years like “Person Of Interest”, “The Family”, “Bull”, “Girls” and “Time After Time”. She also starred in an episode of the web series “The Pioneers” and in two episodes of the reality TV series “KICK” before landing her first recurring role as Megan on Netflix’s “Iron Fist” in 2016, where she appeared in 7 episodes.
On October 6, 2017, Deadline announced that she had been cast as Victoria Hughes in the upcoming Grey’s Anatomy firefighters spinoff opposite Jaina Lee Ortiz and the mothership series’ Jason George. This marks her first role as a series regular.
On January 25, 2018, the spinoff finally got a title, “Station 19”. The series debuted on March 22, 2018 on ABC and was renewed for a second season in May 2018. The second season premiered on October 4, 2018 and received a full season order of 17 episodes. It was renewed for a third season in May 2019 and is set to come back mid-season 2020.