Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Transformation Of Monica Raymund From Childhood To Chicago Fire

If you have watched any of the first six seasons of "Chicago Fire," you are most likely very familiar with the hot-tempered Gabriela Dawson. She was portrayed expertly by the highly talented Monica Raymund. Her character faced the death of her friends and co-workers in the first few seasons, including both Rebecca Jones (Daisy Betts) and Leslie Shay (Lauren German). While she finds joy in a relationship with Matthew Casey (Jesse Spencer) that eventually leads to marriage and a foster son, Louie Thompson (Austin and Aiden Cohen), she eventually sees the foster son taken away to live with his biological father and her marriage end. She ultimately leaves to work in Puerto Rico, and Raymund moved on from the series. 

Raymund loved her role on the show, telling the Chicago Tribune that she "loved" playing a first responder. "I don't have anyone in my family that's a first responder, and I didn't really know the different trials and tribulations that they face every day," she said. "So that was the greatest part about playing Gabby, that I got to get to know the paramedics, I got to know the firefighters in Chicago, and hopefully to the best of my ability, represent them honorably." Regarding her departure from the show, meanwhile, she said that her six-year contract was near its endpoint, and she had other career goals in mind. "I was hungry to explore a different role, a different story," Raymund explained. "I wanted to explore a different world. I had been in Chicago for five years, and just personally where I was in my life, I was ready to create my home and kind of plant some roots in Los Angeles."

She went to Juliard and used her voice on stage

Monica Raymund is a native of St. Petersburg, Florida, where she was raised by a Jewish father, Steve Raymund, and a Dominican mother, Sonia. While attending high school at St. Petersburg's Shorecrest Preparatory High School, Raymund joined the Broadway Theater Project in Tampa and the North Carolina School of the Arts in Winston-Salem. Raymund appeared in the LiveArts Peninsula Foundation's original production of "Manhattan Casino," where she originated the leading role of Althea Dunbar. She also appeared in numerous plays during her three years in Ann Reinking's Broadway Theatre Project. 

Upon graduation, she moved to New York, attending The Juilliard School for acting. The school is considered one of the leading performing arts institutions in the world for dance, drama, and music. She joined the ranks of other notable alumni like Robin Williams, Adam Driver, Lee Pace, and Viola Davis, graduating in 2008 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. Raymund was awarded the John Houseman Award for commitment and dedication. She graduated alongside Finn Wittrock ("American Horror Story" and cast as Guy Gardner in HBO Max's "Green Lantern") as part of "Group 37." They both appeared in the Julliard productions of William Shakespeare's "The Winter's Tale" in May 2007 and in "The Greeks: Part II" in February 2008.

She landed her first recurring role on 'Lie to Me'

Directly after graduating from Juilliard, she landed her first recurring role as Ria Torres on the Fox thriller, "Lie to Me." Viewers first meet Torres at the airport, where she pulls Cal Lightman (Tim Roth) out of line to question him. He immediately recognizes her as a natural talent for spotting deception. He hires her directly, and she joins him at The Lightman Group, experts at deception science. She spends most of the first season insecure about being the only person in the company who was never explicitly trained in the field. However, she proves herself worthy through sheer will and natural ability.

In a phone interview with her hometown newspaper, The St. Petersburg Times, she talked about her experience on set. "It's quite exciting," she said. "It was a little overwhelming when I first got on set and realized this would be my life for the next six months. Being on set is a whirlwind. And I try to learn as much as I can about what it takes. The technicians, the grips — I'm sort of being a little student, following them everywhere." She continued to speak about the pressures she faced while learning on the job. "I don't have time to pretend I know what I'm doing," the actress explained. "I have to learn fast. There's too much money involved to let myself get behind. Just now, I'm beginning to feel at home."

She now stars in 'Hightown'

You can now see Monica Raymund leading the cast on the Starz Original series "Hightown." Raymund plays Jackie Quinones, a National Marine Fisheries Service Agent in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. As she is typically partying on the beach, she stumbles across the body of a murdered addict. The revelation takes her down the first steps towards sobriety, alongside fellow Agent Ray Abruzzo (James Badge Dale). Raymund commented on what drew her to the character in a NewFest Film Festival for LGBTQ in New York back in October. "I just knew I wanted to be a part of it, especially because the role is really one about this woman trying to find her way through darkness, trying to find redemption and to fill this big hole in her," she said.

There is more to the character for Monica than just the addiction. She also spoke with NBC News about bringing a queer character to life. "Having a queer woman of color taking on the mantle of a role that a white, cis man usually plays is the opportunity of a lifetime," Raymund said. "I think because of it, there is a very rich and different and nuanced perspective through which we're watching the show, and it might not even be something that your audience can quite put their finger on, but it's something that's visceral and emotional. I think it's a very distinct lens through which we're watching this story, because it's inherently coming from a queer, brown woman."

Raymund also speaks about the tone of the story, that while her character is a lesbian, that particular aspect isn't front and center, but just another aspect of her. It is refreshing that it is becoming more normalized in the space. In addition to her role on "Hightown," also directed the episode "Fresh as a Daisy."