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How Monica Raymund Tapped Into Messy, Strong and Queer Lead on ‘Hightown’ (Exclusive)

Messy and strong! That’s exactly what drew Monica Raymund to the role of Jackie Quinones in Starz’ Hightown.

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“The story is so fascinating and dark. I like dark drama, that’s kind of my niché. So being able to play a very messy woman who is really battling her inner demons and trying to figure out her purpose, that was fascinating to me,” Raymund, 33, shares exclusively in the latest issue of Us Weekly, on newsstands now. “I think all of us in the world are trying to deal with our battles. Seeing a character so close to that deal with something like addiction was complicated and I wanted to get messy.”

In order to take on that role, the actress found the similarities she has with Jackie. “I’m Latina and I’m queer and so is this character,” she notes. “So, being able to represent that on cable it’s pretty awesome!”

How Monica Raymund Tapped Into Messy Strong Queer Lead Hightown
Monica Raymund in ‘Hightown’. Starz

The character is also finding herself — something that Raymund, and most, have been through. “Even though she is rough around the edges, she is strong because she’s figuring out how to reach within herself and overcome her pain and adversity. That is a really messy process but it does require courage,” she tells Us. “By the end of the series, she does start to find that within herself. That’s something I can relate to. I’ve gotten knocked down a lot and there are two choices — you either stay down or you get up and that requires a lot of courage to do that. I like that about the character.”

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Additionally, the Chicago Fire alum has been diving into more directing, which she says helps her as an actress and vice versa.

“Being in front of the cameras is very different than being behind it. I have a director’s hat and I have an actor’s hat. For me, I’ve learned I have to take off the director hat when I’m being an actor. Otherwise, it muddles my process,” she shares. “I think to be able to tell the whole story, it’s the director’s job to understand that full story from A to Z. That’s helpful because it should be an actor’s job too. It’s something that I’m learning every single day.”

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Hightown premieres on Starz Sunday, May 17, at 8 p.m. ET. The first episode is also now available to stream on the Starz app.

For more from Raymund, watch the video above and pick up the latest issue of Us Weekly.

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