Why Monica Raymund Went With Starz's Hightown After Leaving Chicago Fire

monica raymund dawson chicago fire season 8
(Image credit: nbc press)
(Image credit: nbc press)

Having played Gabriela Dawson in NBC's Chicago Fire for six seasons, not to mention appearances across Chicago P.D. and Chicago Med, actress Monica Raymund could have potentially spent many more years of her career alongside fictional husband Matthew Casey. But, as fans know, Raymund decided to break Dawsey hearts everywhere and leave blazes in the Windy City behind at the end of the Season 7 premiere. Since then, Raymund has landed on the upcoming Starz drama, Hightown, and we now know why she decamped for a show that promises to be a fair bit darker than Chicago Fire.

CinemaBlend's Nick Venable got the chance to speak with Monica Raymund about her new show at the Television Critics Association winter press tour, and when asked why she signed on for Hightown and it's darker themes which deal with murder and the drug trade, here's what Raymund had to say:

I knew what I wanted to do, and that was represent being a woman of color, leading a show, [and that show being] on a cable or streaming network. Those are the three things that I wanted to do within the next couple of years. And that's what happened, I checked it, I checked it, I checked it. So I'm so grateful. I was really interested in doing a drama, and I really wanted to do something gritty and darker that was rooted in realism. And I wasn't afraid to push the boundaries; there should be sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll, you know? I wanted to do a show where I felt like I was being challenged in that way.

Well, it's pretty clear that Monica Raymund didn't leave Chicago Fire on any kind of whim, isn't it? Oh, no. She had a definite plan and concrete goals that she wanted to achieve upon stepping away from her role as the most beloved paramedic / firefighter on primetime television, and she quickly saw that Hightown would help her reach those goals in one fell swoop.

Hightown will see Monica Raymund play a National Marine Fisheries Service officer in Cape Cod who becomes obsessed with figuring out who murdered the person whose body she found washed up on the shore. It becomes obvious that the victim had ties to the opioid drug trade in the area, so Raymund's character is soon embroiled in a battle against dangerous criminals and the state cops, who would prefer that she keep her nose out of the case.

Monica Raymund made it clear that she was looking to keep her talents in the world of drama, but wanted something that would be capable of pushing more boundaries than even Chicago Fire could with their most gruesome deaths. Any premium cable drama that's set in the world of a lone wolf law enforcement official trying to piece together a crime that deals with the drug trade sounds like it'll be able to serve up lots of the "sex and drugs and rock 'n' roll" that Raymund and many audiences look for.

As I mentioned above, Monica Raymund disappointed a lot of fans when she left Chicago Fire. She had been a part of the cast since Season 1, and was in a slow-burn romantic pairing that was left totally upended when she walked away from the NBC drama. So, now that she's landed Hightown and checked off so many of her career goals, does she feel justified for leaving? Here's how Raymund responded:

That's an interesting question. Is it justified that I've stepped away from Chicago? I don't know about 'justified,' but I sure feel more confident that I have a little bit of a future ahead of me in this business. It's always risky to leave one project, because you never know when you're going to work again. So it's very humbling, if anything, is the word I think I would use.

While admitting that it's always difficult to leave a successful project behind, Monica Raymund did say she feels "more confident" about her future in the business because of nabbing Hightown, so it should be good for fans of hers to hear that the move, shocking though it was, has netted some positive results for Raymund.

Monica Raymund will debut in Hightown, which also stars James Badge Dale, Riley Voelkel, Shane Harper and Atkins Estimond, on Starz at some point this year. For more on what you can watch right now, check out our 2020 winter / spring premiere guide and Netflix schedule!

Adrienne Jones
Senior Content Creator

Yennefer's apprentice, Gilmore Girl; will Vulcan nerve pinch pretty much anyone if prompted with cheese...Yes, even Jamie Fraser.