Interview, Audio: Monica Raymund of ‘Chicago Fire’ Debuts New Film ‘Tanya’ on Aug. 1, 2017

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CHICAGOTV fans know Monica Raymund as paramedic Gabby Dawson on the long-running “Chicago Fire.” But the talented actor is expanding her range, debuting her first film as director, “Tanya,” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017. The short film – written by Sam Forman – will be part of “Female Filmmakers Night” at the Midwest Indie, and is part of Raymund’s involvement with Hidden Tears Project, an organization dedicated to raising consciousness by creating media on gender inequality, sexual abuse and human trafficking.

“Tanya” was produced in association with the Human Tears Project, as it tells the flashback story of a 14-year-old girl (Kiah McKirnan) who encounters a client named Chuck in a prostitution scenario. There is something different about the exchange, and the result will be life changing for everyone involved. Chuck is portrayed by Eamonn Walker, who co-stars with Raymund on “Chicago Fire.” The film also features “Fire” cast members Christian Stolte and Joe Minoso.

Actors Kiah McKirnan and Eamonn Walker On Set for Monica Raymund’s ‘Tanya’
Photo credit: Hidden Tears Productions

Monica Raymund was born in Florida, and attended the Julliard School in New York City, graduating in 2008. She made her TV debut on “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” the same year, and landed on a FOX Network series “Lie to Me” from 2009-2011. In 2012, she got the role of Gabby Dawson on NBC’s “Chicago Fire,” and is currently in Chicago filming the sixth season of the successful drama. talked to Raymund in anticipation of the Festival Debut of “Tanya” at the Midwest Independent Film Festival (she will appear at the Q&A), split into a transcript and audio interview. Your film highlights a unsavory hidden problem in America… the underground world of underage prostitution and human trafficking. Where did you first encounter this issue, how did screenwriter Sam Forman actualize it, and how did it eventually inspire you to speak out with the completion of the film?

Monica Raymund: The matter of human trafficking was brought to my attention by the Human Tears Project. They came to me and asked if I’d be interested in being a creator for awareness content they were producing. And the reason Hidden Tears exists is to raise awareness and educate Americans about what is going on in their own country. I wanted to be involved because I wanted to learn more about it, and because of the high number of underage kids that are manipulated in sex trafficking.

I proposed the film to them, telling them I wanted to work with my dear friend Sam Forman, who is a writer on “House of Cards.” It starts with a misdirection, but ends with real hope. Because of the subject nature of what we’re talking about in the film, as you said a very unsavory topic, it was very important to me to tell a story that ended with hope. I wanted to show that there are scenarios when these kids have a future after undergoing the trauma. The whole mission of the Human Tears Project is to save these kids. You use three of your ‘Chicago Fire’ co-stars in the short… Eamonn Walker, Christian Stolte and Joe Minoso. What have you observed about them in your many years on set that told you that they were right for the roles you were directing in the film?

Raymund: I really wanted to work with all three of them. First I cast Eamonn because he is a long-time veteran of film and television, and we have a personal relationship in which we admire each other’s work. I told him I was doing this short film, and it would be very interesting for him to be the lead male character, because he could play the type of role model I needed for the part… the film was a good fit for him and I.

As far as Christian and Joe, I knew they could play their roles well. Christian, in his persona, fits the midwestern DCFS [Department of Children and Family Services] office guy to perfection. For Joe, he had to be believable in a more difficult role. I had the right roles for the right friends.

Monica Raymund as Gabby Dawson on ‘Chicago Fire’
Photo credit: Elizabeth Morris for NBC-TV If you were lucky enough to have a conventional childhood or privilege it’s very difficult to relate to a situation where an underage child is trafficked or used in prostitution. What circumstances are most prevalent in persons who end up tangled in this web?

Raymund: When I was doing my research on the film, it would be assumed that the underage children get caught up in that situation through some sort of dramatic circumstance… like a kidnapping or something else. But usually it’s not that dramatic.

The guys that get girls to work for them, they start out as a trusted figure in these girl’s lives, as a ‘boyfriend’ or friend. Then they manipulate that loyalty or trust, and the girls actually think that these guys are in love with them. They think they have their best interests at heart, and become sort of brainwashed or hypnotized by this ‘boyfriend’ representative. I was shocked to learn that this is how guys got these girls, by manipulating them emotionally.

In the audio portion of the interview, Monica Raymund talks about the tone she wanted for “Tanya,” the direction she’d like to see for her “Chicago Fire” character of Gabby and how her life’s journey is creating new avenues for her.

The Midwest Independent Film Festival presents “Female Filmmakers Night” on Tuesday, August 1st, 2017, at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema, 2828 North Clark Street, Chicago. Monica Raymund of “Chicago Fire” will make an appearance on behalf of her film, “Tanya.” For a full line-up of the Night, and to purchase tickets, click here. For more information about the Hidden Tears Project, click here. senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2017 Patrick McDonald,

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