Meet Monica Raymund, the fiercely versatile actor who currently stars as Gabriela Dawson in the hit NBC series Chicago Fire. For her work on the show, she is the 2013 recipient of the Imagen Foundation Award for Best Actress in Television, as well as a 2013 Teen Choice Award nominee for Best Actress in an action television series. Immediately discovered upon graduation from the Juilliard Drama Division, she went on to star opposite Tim Roth in the hit Fox series Lie to Me. She also portrayed Dana Lodge in the hit CBS series The Good Wife. Film credits include Arbitrage alongside Richard Gere, Brahmin Bulls, and Happy Baby.
In addition to rocking at her acting career, Monica is an in-demand producer of theatre and film, most recently executive producing the highly anticipated film, The Submarine Kid, starring hot actor and former Juilliard classmate, Finn Wittrock. She produced the highly promising family musical, Volleygirls, which is aiming to hit The Great White Way in the near future after a successful run in the 2013 New York Musical Theatre Festival. Monica is also an arts and education activist, where she serves on the board of the Performing Arts Project.
She is an all around talent, who is also a great person, and we are thrilled to have had the chance to catch up with this rising star of the stage and screen.
Photo Credit: NBCUniversal Media
Full Name: Monica Maria Raymund
Hometown: St. Petersburg, FL
What made you want to be an actor?
I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor. I started playing piano when I was 5 years old and studied until college, and I think that was the first step in the performing arts direction. Music opened my eyes to a world of imagination. I started singing, dancing, acting, and before I knew it I was a little theater geek, obsessed with telling stories from other people’s points of view. I don’t think I realized acting could be a serious profession for me until I was accepted into The Juilliard School — that’s really when I knew I wanted to go for it. For whatever reason, someone believed in me more than I believed in myself, so I felt an obligation to explore beyond the limits of my fear. I’m still trying to do that actually. I suppose it is the fate of an actor — stepping out of bounds, being uncomfortable, staring fear right in the face, and then, with all your possible might, screaming right at it as hard and loud and fully as you can. The possibility of breaking through, of having even a moment of clarity or transcendence or truth, is the drug that makes acting so much damn fun.
What is it like being on a hit TV show and living the actor’s dream?
It’s increasingly strange and at once, unnatural. TV is an odd bird. It’s a medium with which I’m not terribly familiar, so every day I basically take advantage of being surrounded by an amazing crew who know a whole lot more about a camera and lens than I do, and I interrogate them about this alien medium called a “camera.” I grew up on the stage. There’s only one lens size: WIDE. In Film/TV, I’m learning a whole new vocabulary and world of relationship to the audience, and it’s exceptionally educational. It’s basically my film school.
This “actor’s dream” …… it feels more like school than a dream, simply because I learn so many new things every day and am constantly trying to keep up. It’s athletic in its versatility and demands, and extremely unforgiving in its stubbornness. But I get to learn a whole new way of storytelling that is very humbling. And even more humbling is interacting with fans, with humans who invest so much of themselves in the show — the fans are a beautiful family, and I love meeting such interesting and dynamic people who support our stories.
Traveling, reading, hiking, more traveling, getting on and off planes……I really like to travel.
Most inspired by?
My Mom and Dad
If you could meet 3 people from history?
Favorite time of day?
Let the Fool speak.
Funniest dating story?
I would share it but I’m pretty sure it’s way too inappropriate for this lovely site.
Your best date?
There was this one day that turned into a date – I was hanging out with a beautiful woman and we had the same work day off. I was in Chicago, where she’s from, and she took me to some of the most romantic hidden spots along the lake which included a secluded waterfront nook, a butterfly garden, and then we drove up to Evanston and walked onto a small beach where we watched the sunset on the shore, the only ones on the whole stretch of land. It was one of the most magical days of my Chicagoan life so far.
Most romantic thing you’ve ever done for someone?
I know this is kind of weird, but I was dating someone who really loved salted pecans, but she could never find ONLY salted pecans! She would always buy huge cans of Mixed Nuts and pick out the salted pecans to put in her salad. She looked all over for them and resorted to this expensive and totally inefficient solution to satisfy her insatiable craving for salted pecans. I searched high and low on Amazon and came across exactly what she was looking for all these months: huge jars of salted pecans! I ordered them and when the 3 month supply came, I had them laid out, had flowers on the table, and made us dinner with a side salad that of course, had salted pecans mixed in.