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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


September 23, 2016  RSS feed
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‘Chicago Fire’ actress comes home to St. Pete to urge voter registration


Actress Monica Raymund, originally from St. Petersburg, speaks to a small crowd at a home in Gulfport as part of a voter registration event. She also participated in a similar event in Ybor City. Actress Monica Raymund, originally from St. Petersburg, speaks to a small crowd at a home in Gulfport as part of a voter registration event. She also participated in a similar event in Ybor City. Monica Raymund grew up in St. Petersburg. She had her bat mitzvah at Temple Beth-El and attended Shorecrest Preparatory School before jetting off to The Juilliard School in New York City… and finding steady work as an actress and a modicum of fame.

Raymund is best known for her role as Gabriella Dawson, a paramedic turned firefighter candidate on the NBC drama Chicago Fire, which begins its fifth season Oct. 11.

Last weekend, she came home to encourage the people of her hometown to register to vote, speaking to about 15 people at a volunteer’s home in Gulfport as part of a Hillary Clinton presidential campaign sponsored event. Earlier in the day, she participated in a similar event in Ybor City.

Monica Raymund as Gabriella Dawson in a “Chicago Fire” episode. 
Elizabeth Morris/NBC Monica Raymund as Gabriella Dawson in a “Chicago Fire” episode. Elizabeth Morris/NBC The actress, joined by state representative hopeful Jennifer Webb, spoke about issues that matter to her in this election: the environment, gay rights and support for the Latino community.

Raymund, who lives in Chicago where Chicago Fire is filmed, related a recent experience that put the environment at the forefront of her mind. “I’m in Chicago and I’m in bed. I wake up in the morning and all the sudden I feel like I was in L.A. This earthquake happened,” said the 30 year-old actress. “It was from fracking some place out in the Midwest. It’s started this huge dialogue, again.”

She is also an advocate for the LGBTQ community, and identifies herself as queer. (LGBTQ websites define queer as non-straight) In July, she was asked to be the Grand Marshall of 47th Annual Chicago Pride Parade.

She said she was honored and felt that it was more important than ever to show support for the LGBTQ community, especially since it was so soon after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. The entire cast of Chicago Fire came out to surprise her and lend their support as well.

Besides Chicago Fire, Raymund shares crossover credits with spin-offs Chicago PD, Chicago Med and recently, Chicago Justice.

She is also currently starring in Chicago’s Lookingglass Theater production of Thaddeus and Slocum: A Vaudeville Adventure. Raymund plays Isabella, a mixed-race girl passing for white in order to move through the world. Her own background – her father is Ashkenazi Jewish and mother is Dominican – intrigued and pushed her toward auditioning for the part.

“It’s [also] dealing with a white man and a black man wanting to be Vaudeville stars, and wanting to use blackface to hide the race of the black man, so they could be on a white stage,” she told the Jewish Press. “As a mixed woman, as a woman who looks like I could be other races, telling a story of that nature is very pertinent to me and I think it was a very important dialogue to have, especially in Chicago.”

Raymund’s mother, Sonia Raymund, opened the now-closed Soulful Arts Dance Academy in St. Petersburg. Her father, Steven Raymund, is former CEO of Tech Data in Clearwater, the prominent IT supply and service company founded by grandfather Edward

Raymund. Now divorced, both parents still live in area and according to Raymund, they expect her to visit.

“I come down about once a month to see my family,” said the actress, explaining that her mother would never allow her to go much longer than that.

Raymund finds the time despite how her career has taken off.

It began only a few months after graduating from Julliard with landing a spot on the television show Lie to Me, opposite Tim Roth. Since then, she has appeared in other television shows (The Good Wife, Law & Order: SVU), movies (Armitrage, Brahmin Bulls), and theater (Oliver Parker!).

Raymund isn’t going to temple now but she is looking for one. She toured a few recently and feels she may have found one she likes.

“I’m not particularly religious, to be honest,” she said. “But some personal things have happened in my life that have sort of been an impetus to find a temple, so I am actively exploring that.”

Raymund said that her sexuality and her faith have never affected one another, that instead they exist individually in her life. Both of those qualities make her who she is, she said, and neither detracts from the other.

Those and other qualities are why she is choosing to support Hillary Clinton in the presidential election. Citing her Latina, woman and LGBTQ demographic, Raymund told the crowd she represents everything that Donald Trump hates and she is “his biggest threat.”

“America is about inclusion. America is not about divisiveness,” she told the Jewish Press. “There is nothing more un-American than a message of division. Literally, a lovely allegory has been given to us: a wall. There is nothing more un-American than a wall.”

As the election draws nearer, Raymund said she will continue to encourage people to register to vote and help promote a message of togetherness.

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