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The Transformation Of Marlyne Barrett From Childhood To Chicago Med

Fans of the NBC dramas "Chicago Med," "Chicago Fire" and "Chicago P.D." might be eagerly awaiting those shows' return from hiatus, but they have plenty of past episodes to rewatch in the meantime. The "One Chicago" franchise was created by producer Dick Wolf and spans more than 500 episodes across each series, which encompasses characters who often cross shows and storylines. "Chicago Med" premiered in 2015 and follows the nurses and doctors inside the emergency department at the fictional Gaffney Chicago Medical Center in Chicago. While some key cast members have since departed the show, many remain, including Marlyne Barrett, who has played fan-favorite nurse Maggie Lockwood since the show's inception.  

In the past, Maggie has had a lot to deal with, including a cancer diagnosis she initially struggled to hide from her colleagues and trying to keep the unit coordinated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Recent storylines have also introduced new family members for Maggie, including the daughter she gave up for adoption who is now working in the emergency department alongside her. 

While Maggie has grown a lot throughout the years, "Chicago Med" fans might be curious to learn more about Barrett, who might look familiar to fans of drama television. 

Barrett originally planned to be a nurse

Born Marlyne Nayokah Afflack, Marlyne Barrett has grown a lot, in more ways than one, since her childhood in Brooklyn. Calling herself an "awakened warrior" in her Twitter profile, Barrett revealed to Talk Nerdy With Us that she has a nursing degree, her mother is an ICU nurse, and her sister is a doctor. She admitted she was drawn to the role on "Chicago Med" because "the medical institution is such a prominent figure in my family upbringing that we have honor for it."

She told EDGE Magazine she earned her nursing degree as a promise to her parents, but acting was her passion. "My father worked for Siemens as a medical engineer," she said. "And we have cousins who are doctors and nurses. So it's a family thing. When immigrants — my family is from Haiti — come into this country, this is what they call 'royal' blue-collar jobs. Doctors, nurses, engineers. There is a regal-ness to doing these professions. You can use these jobs to enter any area of society." This passion for the medical field certainly comes through in Barrett's commitment to her role on "Chicago Med." 

One of her first roles was in the comedy Hitch

Despite earning a nursing degree, Barrett decided to pursue an acting career instead of medicine, landing minor roles in "The Growing Pains Movie" and "Heist," as well as an appearance in the comedy film "Hitch" starring Will Smith (per IMDb). In the opening montage of the movie, Will Smith's character, known as Hitch, is explaining the basic rules of how he helps male clients win the object of their affection. According to IMDb, Barrett — who is credited as Nayokah Afflack — plays Stephanie, who is wooed by a man who first gets her attention by buying her ice cream from an ice cream truck.

Since then, Barrett has primarily worked in television and she has played a lot of powerful and intelligent women, including attorneys on "Law & Order" and "Damages," a detective on "American Crime," and a politician on "The Wire." She also played Thomasina on the NBC drama "Kings," a modern re-telling of the story of David and Goliath, which was almost her last role.

She almost gave up acting

Marlyne Barrett has noted a five-year gap in her acting resume, which she told EDGE Magazine happened after she experienced an assault that left her "introverted and depressed." She credits actor Ian McShane, her co-star on the NBC series "Kings," as helping her through the trauma. "I needed a lot of prayer and a lot of counseling, in addition to the physical help I received," she said. "During that time of major pain, that's when I met my husband. I met him a month after the event. He took the time to love on me well. And it was Ian McShane who was my true north."

She told Talk Nerdy With Us that she almost gave up acting after the personal tragedy, but it had been one of her dreams to work with Dick Wolf and Peter Jankowski. In 2005, she joined producer Dick Wolf's other NBC franchise "Law & Order," playing characters on "Law & Order: Trial by Jury," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" and "Law & Order." 

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

She auditioned for another "Chicago" series

It was the chance to join Dick Wolf's "One Chicago" franchise that helped Marlyne Barrett find her way back to acting again. Barrett first auditioned for a role on "Chicago P.D.," and while she didn't land the part, she was later offered the role of nurse Maggie Lockwood on "Chicago Med." During this time she also changed her name from Marlyne Afflack to her married name, Marlyne Barrett. 

She has since played Maggie in multiple appearances on "Chicago P.D." and "Chicago Fire," too. "It's a combination of what I call a divine appointment in time, what I call a kairos time, and just destiny opening up, because I don't know how they knew I was available," she said (via Talk Nerdy to Us).

Barrett's background in nursing has come in handy for the role. She told Fansided she has a habit of wanting to treat people in real life, and not just on the show. "You tend to do it to people too, and then you're like wait a minute, you're a nurse on TV. Calm down!"

You can stream "Chicago Med" on Peacock and Hulu.