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The Transformation Of Lauren German From Childhood To Chicago Fire

As the original entry in producer Dick Wolf's expansive "One Chicago" slate of hit shows, "Chicago Fire" holds a special place in the hearts of millions of loyal Chi-hards who tune in week after week. Solidly hooked by Wolf's sure-fire formula of gripping action sequences anchored by an ensemble cast of diverse and engaging first responders, the series shows no sign of slowing down after ten ratings-topping seasons on NBC (via TVSeriesFinale).

While the show offers plenty of courageous firefighters, paramedics, and others for all those viewers to grow attached to, Lauren German's spirited, vivacious Leslie Shay stands out as a true favorite with the "Chicago Fire" fanbase. As a hard-working, proudly gay paramedic assigned to the crew of Ambulance 61, Shay was respected and well-liked by her coworkers at Firehouse 51, who came to depend on both her emergency medical skills and her sunny, can-do attitude. As a long-time veteran on the show, Shay's appearances in almost 50 episodes from 2012 through 2015 made her one of the most recognizable faces on the series (via IMDb).

But despite all her time saving lives on "Chicago Fire," viewers may still be surprised as we reveal the transformation that Lauren German went through from childhood to her starring role on the show.

Her early work includes 7th Heaven and MTV

Born in 1978 in California, Lauren German grew up in Southern California where her early life included attendance at the Orange County High School of the Arts in Los Alamitos, California, and later undergrad studies at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles where she majored in anthropology (via The New York Times).

German made her first on-screen appearance in the third season of MTV's anthology TV series "Undressed" in 1999, when she was cast in the minor role of Kimmy (via IMDb). The next year, she would make another brief appearance on screen, this time playing a character simply described as Lovestruck Woman in the romantic comedy "Down to You," starring Freddie Prinze Jr.

Her next role would find her joining the cast of the long-running family TV series "7th Heaven," where she portrayed Marie. German followed up that wholesome role with a decidedly different sort of character when she was cast as Beth, a young woman who becomes a crime fighter in an alternate dimension in the 2001 TV movie "Shotgun Love Dolls." 

She landed roles in The Lone Ranger and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre

In 2002, Lauren German shared the screen with Mandy Moore, Shane West, Peter Coyote, and Daryl Hannah when she was cast in the role of Belinda in the teen drama "A Walk to Remember," based on the best-selling Nicholas Sparks novel.

In the next few years, German's show-business career picked up steam as she found herself cast in increasingly significant roles both on TV and in feature films. In 2002's "A Midsummer Night's Rave," she played Elena, and followed that up with her portrayal of Emily Landy in the TV movie production of "The Lone Ranger" in 2003. That same year, she would land the role of a distraught hitchhiker in the reboot of the classic horror-slasher franchise "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre."

Additional roles in a variety of feature films and TV shows would come her way in 2005, as she was cast as Melissa in "Rx," Jennifer in "Standing Still," and Gertle in "Born Killers." Also in 2005, German would earn her first recurring role in a TV series when she was tabbed to play Rose Miller alongside Denise Richards in "Sex, Love & Secrets" (via IMDb).

She was a terrorized traveler in Hostel: Part II

After more work on both the small screen and in films including playing Maddy in the TV movie "Surrender Dorothy," Mary in "Love and Mary," and Cassie in "Spin," Lauren German was cast as one of the leads in the horror sequel "Hostel: Part II" (via IMDb). Directed by Eli Roth, German's character Beth would find herself lured to an Eastern European hostel where very bad things happened to the unwitting college girls whose vacations took them into a very dark place, indeed. Then, in 2007, German would play a drummer and future Go-Gos band member Belinda Carlisle in the punk-music drama "What We Do is Secret."

In 2010, German landed yet another recurring episodic TV role with regular appearances in the series "Happy Town." Starring on screen with Geoff Stults, Sam Neill, and Amy Acker, German took on the part of Henley Boone, a young woman who arrives in a sleepy, seemingly ideal little Minnesota town only to end up playing a central role in the murderous secret lurking beneath the village's tranquil surface.

She went from Hawaii to Chicago and fell for the Devil

Lauren German's profile in the episodic TV universe would take a quantum leap forward in 2011, when she was cast as Secret Service agent Lori Weston in the CBS re-make of the popular early '70s show "Hawaii Five-O." Debuting in the episode "Ua Lawe Wale," German would go on to play agent Weston in a total of 15 "Hawaii Five-O" installments (via IMDb).

The next year would see German arrive in the "One Chicago" line-up of procedurals as she suited up as paramedic Leslie Shay in "Chicago Fire." In addition to her stints in 49 "Chicago Fire" episodes, she would also cross-over to visit the detectives and beat cops of "Chicago P.D." in two installments of that show.

In 2015, the same year German's Shay exited the "Chicago Fire" franchise, she began her work in a long-lasting recurring role on the hit supernatural drama "Lucifer." Starring as homicide detective Chloe Decker for a total of 93 episodes of the series, German's character would form a reluctant partnership with the satanic Lucifer Morningstar (Tom Ellis), before eventually falling into a romantic relationship with the devil himself.

So, from early days as a young anthropology student, to her first forays into TV and film, to finding her place as a mainstay actor on network TV, Lauren German has indeed undergone an amazing transformation from childhood to stardom on "Chicago Fire" and beyond.