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See Ya, Dawson! Monica Raymund Makes 180-Degree Turn From ‘Chicago Fire’ to ‘Hightown’ (Exclusive)

Making quite a change. Monica Raymund is best known for playing Gabriela Dawson on Chicago Fire, but her new role in Hightown couldn’t be more different — and that’s why she wanted to take it on.

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“I mean, Gabby Dawson for six years and then 180 degrees to Jackie. It couldn’t be more different. That’s was attractive to me,” the actress, 33, exclusively tells Us Weekly in the latest issue, on newsstands now. “I wanted to shake it up. My whole point of doing this business is that I want to tell a lot of stories, as many as I can before I die. I’m really excited because this is so different than what I’ve been doing and I believe in it.”

Monica Raymund Makes 180 Degree Turn From Chicago Fire to Hightown
Monica Raymund in ‘Hightown’. Starz

In the new Starz drama, her character Jackie is a partier living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, who spends her days drinking, doing drugs and hooking up. Everything changes when she comes across a dead body on the beach.

“She starts in a messy place,” the director explains. “We start to peel back what that tough exterior is and we see a more vulnerable side to Jackie. On top of that, she sees this dead body and finds herself in the middle of this murder investigation for God knows why, but she feels compelled to be a part of it. I think that, for some reason, becomes a connection to redemption. I think she’s trying through all of this, she’s a woman who’s trying to understand her purpose and solving this murder and finding this poor girl’s killer is part of that.”

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Luckily, for Dawson fans, the Florida native says she’ll always be a part of the family. She returned for an episode last season of Chicago Fire, and has directed two episodes of FBI — one being a crossover with Chicago P.D.

Monica Raymund Makes 180 Degree Turn From Chicago Fire to Hightown
Monica Raymund as Gabriela Dawson on ‘Chicago Fire’. Adrian Burrows/NBC

“I don’t know what it is, but the Wolf Pack and I, we are intertwined for the rest of my life,” she tells Us. “The producers over at Wolf [Entertainment] are the ones who have given me the opportunity to direct and I mean, I have to give props to that because there couldn’t be anything more feminist than giving me the opportunity to stretch as a female director. I have a lot of respect for the producers — who are mostly men over there — believing and creating space for more parity.”

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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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