'NCIS: Hawai'i' to Pay Tribute to Late CBS Story Editor Yakira Chambers

Yakira Chambers, a story editor on NCIS: Hawai'i, died suddenly last week. The hit CBS drama will include a tribute to Chambers in an upcoming episode. Chambers, who also acted in Insecure, was 42.

Chambers' family told Deadline the preliminary cause of death was acute asphyxia. She was with her mother at a mall in Newport Beach, California on Wednesday, Nov. 30 when she suddenly started having trouble breathing and collapsed. NCIS: Hawai'i will air a tribute to Chambers during a January episode.

Chambers was a staff writer on NCIS: Hawai'i's first season, earning writing credits on four episodes. She was promoted to story editor for the show's second season. The NCIS spinoff's producers hired Chambers after she was a member of the ViacomCBS Writers Mentoring Program during the 2020-2021 season. Outside of NCIS, she was also developing a pilot about community services advocate Larry Hooper and another pilot inspired by her experiences growing up in Chicago and attending a majority-white high school.

Chambers also acted, appearing in a handful of TV shows and other projects. She was in an episode of Insecure in 2016 and The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl in 2011. Chambers was also in the 2020 movie John Henry, starring Terry Crews and Ludacris. In 2012, she played Michelle Obama in M.O. Diaries, an early project in Master of None star Lena Waithe's career.

The Chicago native earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Southern Illinois University and worked as a software quality assurance manager in St. Louis. She also earned a Master's degree in business administration, but she chose to pursue her dreams in the entertainment industry.

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After moving to Los Angeles, she completed an acting program at the Joanne D. Baron/D.W. Brown Studio. Her first acting credits were Eye See Me and Adam Sandler's I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry. She was a member of SAG-AFTRA and the WGA. Chambers is survived by her husband, stepson, and her mother. Her family established a GoFundMe campaign for her funeral and other expenses. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.

"Her sudden and untimely death has left us all grief-stricken. Yakira was a light, a symbol of hope to our community, a steward of our culture, and a representation of what pursuing your dreams looks like," Chambers' family told Deadline. "Yakira's passion extended beyond her daily work in the business; she loved helping others create a way out of no way. She believed in equity, and the demarginalization of persons of color to create a level playing field for all. This passion was actualized in the form of her foundation, CureConstanceFoundation, an organization born out of the necessity for finding financial options for those in [a] health crisis."