Out bisexual actress Monica Raymund joined Chicago Fire creator Dick Wolf and some of her franchise co-stars from Chicago Med and Chicago P.D. for a panel at TCA last week in Los Angeles. During the panel, I asked Dick, who is also responsible for Law & Order and subsequent spin-offs, why there have been no LGBT characters on the Chicago shows since Leslie Shay was killed off in Season 2.
“The Shay character was written that way from the beginning,” Dick said. “We don’t go out of our way, and we never have on any of the shows, to integrate specific groups. I think that that’s shortsighted. I think that if it’s a natural story development, it should be utilized, just like I’ve never counted heads in any of the shows and said, Oh, black, Hispanic, white.’ It doesn’t work that way. You cast actors who you think are going to bring a new color to the palette, but I honestly it has certainly not been avoided, but it is not something that the writers feel that they have to include. If there is a character who lends itself to any designation, we have absolutely no objection to using them or to developing characters who have that as part of their makeup.”
After the panel, Monica was asked for her thoughts on the franchise’s lack of queer characters.
“I think that once you start trying to fulfill boxes to meet quota, you’re not operating from a place of artistry, you’re operating from a place of business,” Monica said. “So I’m an artist, I will put my ticket in his hat, and say that if it happens organically that’s the way it should happen. I mean, we’re not on Showtime doing The L Word here, that storyline was about that community and those humans. This is about first responders where some are straight, some are gay, and some are queer. So I think those characters will happen organically. But to put that as a priority, it’s like saying, ‘You need to cast more Latin actors!’ Maybe that conversation is better for the entire industry not just for our show. “
Photo by Maarten de Boer/Getty Images Portraits
As EMT-turned-firefighter Gabriella Dawson on Chicago Fire, Monica said she thinks Latina actresses are getting more roles on primetime, and NBC is now home to two series starring Eva Longoria (Telenovela) and America Ferrera (Superstore).
“I think as more Latin artists get more cred and respect in the industry that we need to start procuring more work that contributes to that conversation and the community,” Monica said. “I’m interested in seeing educated Latinos as much as I’m interested in seeing Latin struggles, or Latinos on the border. I think if we want to see these changes we need to start doing them for ourselves.”
Monica hopes to do that with a short film of her own she’s shooting for the Hidden Tears Project next month. She’s also behind a new queer women’s party in Chicago, called Clandestina. Last month, Chicago P.D. star Sophia Bush was a guest DJ.
“I started Clandestina because I was going out in Chicago and there’s no scene!” she said. “So I thought, ‘I’m just going to start throwing my own parties.’ So I did. My next one is January 24th, then a huge event happening on Valentine’s Day to benefit a local trans organization to raise funds for homeless youth.”
As for her role on NBC’s hit drama, Monica is spending a lot of time around men.
“It’s so nice when I have scenes with Kara Killmer who plays Sylvie Brett,” Monica said. “I like that time, too, because a girl needs a little lady time.”
Photo by Elizabeth Morris/NBC
Monica also noted Golden Globe-winner Lady Gaga comes on set to visit fiancee Taylor Kinney (“All of our partners come on set if they want to and come and hang out, but yes she’s become a very good friend.”) and that she’d love to appear on a future season of American Horror Story. She’s into the dark stuff and is currently watching Making of a Murderer on Netflix. She also likes meditating in her spare time.
“I need my meditation, and I meditate an hour a day,” Monica said. “I have to set intentions and think about my body and my mind so that’s very important to me.”
Also important to her is for Dawson to recover from her recent hardships (no spoilers!) and continue to have a happy relationship with on-screen beau Casey (Jesse Spencer).
“I think it’s natural for Dawson and Casey to be together, I feel like it feels right,” Monica said. “I feel like we’re America’s parents or something. It feels good. It is safe, and of course, it’s all about love. I really like working with him, we have such good chemistry together, and I much prefer it this way.”
As to if she ever gets nervous Dawson might end up like her friend Leslie Shay, Monica said it’s a very real possibility.
“Actors are completely dispensable. This industry is fickle. I never encourage people to buy a home right away or make their roots here,” Monica said. “I know I could be written off at any moment, I’m totally aware of that.”
Let’s hope not.
Chicago Fire airs Tuesday nights on NBC. Tweet your email to Clandestina to RSVP for their party on January 24,