(CHICAGO FIRE — Season: 1 — Pictured: Monica Raymund as Gabriella Dawson — (Photo by: Sandro/NBC))

Actress Monica Raymund heats up “Chicago Fire”

Monica Raymund may not be a household name yet, but that’s all about to change as the 26-year-old kicks up the heat a notch in NBC’s new suspense drama, “Chicago Fire.”

The series – which hits airwaves tomorrow night at 10/9c – features Raymund as one of several firefighters and paramedics (“really, the most inspiring every day heroes,” comments the half-Dominican, half-Jewish actress) who fearlessly save lives every day in Chicago, Illinois.

“This drama does an amazing job of authentically representing the people who put their lives on the line every day to protect others,” says Raymund. “The opportunity to tell these stories is an honor.”

In the series – executive produced by Emmy Award winner Dick Wolf (“Law & Order) – Raymund plays Gabriela Dawson, a level-headed paramedic whose friendship with lead character Jesse Spencer (played by “House” star Matthew Casey) becomes a focal point in the drama’s unfolding storyline.

“My character is an awesome woman who is in high-pressure situations every day, saving patients that firefighters pull out of fires and accidents,” says Raymund, who has learned a variety of practical medical procedures while training for the role. “And although Gabriela is a really tough, grounded girl, we do get to see her during her vulnerable times as she experiences the heartache of not being with the man she loves.”

Raymund, who readily admits that one of the challenges of the series has been the physical demand of keeping up with the action-packed script (“You’re wearing this incredibly heavy gear, and it’s hot …I’m in the gym all the time!” explains Raymund), says that her experience filming “Chicago Fire” has been completely different from her time spent on other television sets like “The Good Wife” and the crime drama “Lie to Me.”

Actress Monica Raymund heats up “Chicago Fire” paramedic edit celebrity 2 NBC Latino News

Monica Raymund – whom fans may remember best from her appearances on shows like “The Good Wife” and “Lie To Me” plays a paramedic in the new NBC drama, “Chicago Fire.” (Photo/Matt Dinerstein for NBC)

“All my experience on television has been positive – a real blessing,” says Raymund, who attended The Julliard School as a recipient of the prestigious John Houseman Award and landed the role of human lie detector Ria Torres on “Lie to Me” just one month after her college graduation. “But this new show has allowed me to explore real characters and circumstances, especially as I’m learning more about the role of civil service in this country and where it’s headed politically.”

Raymund, who splits her time between Chicago (where “Chicago Fire” is filmed) and Los Angeles, where her husband, director/producer Neil Patrick Stewart is based, says that her role on the primetime drama is just the beginning of her career.

“I would love to do comedy, maybe even a sitcom,” says Raymund, who was first exposed to theater while growing up in St. Petersburg, Florida. “But theater is what I trained for and what I know, so I want to produce theater shows. The industry is still very much a boy’s club and I want to bring in as many women on stage and behind the scenes as I can to break that mold.”

“There’s now a growing demand for Latinas in the arts, yes – but I own my heritage and I’m not interested in playing stereotypes because I know I’ll grow in my career based on the virtue of my work.”

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