Joining a new series can be a bit intimidating. Joining a hit television series that’s been on the air for eight seasons is another thing. Chicago Fire returns to continue its ninth season on January 6th.

When the series returns, actor Adriyan Rae will continue her work as paramedic Gianna Mackey. For a new character, she’s already been thrown into the mix of the series and has already become an important member of the team.

Before joining the cast of Chicago Fire, Adriyan has already built an impressive string of credits. She’s appeared in series such as Brockmire, Light As a Feather, Atlanta, American Soul and Platonic. Most recently, she starred in the short-lived, but highly underappreciated Syfy series Vagrant Queen.

Today, we sit down with Adriyan to talk about joining the cast of Chicago Fire, how her background helped her with the show and what fans can look forward to with her character during the ninth season.

Pop Culture Principle – We read that you had been auditioning for the Chicago series for a couple of years. Is that true?

Adriyan Rae – It is! For about 2 years. It was mainly Chicago PD, one for Med, I had never auditioned for Fire prior to this though. But it’s the same casting director/co-producer for all the shows, so I guess Jonathon and Jenny liked me, but were waiting to place me in the role they felt fit best. (Well, that’s what I hope it was haha)

Pop Culture Principle – Before you became an actor, you were a certified medical lab scientist. Did that background help you in preparing for this role? What, if any other things did you do to prepare for the role?

Adriyan Rae – I was indeed an MLS and I am still certified actually. It helps a lot when it comes to simply making things authentic; just having a foundation of medical knowledge allows me to know why I’m doing something and not just to do it because someone told me to. Other things I do to prepare are extensive backstory and character building, researching where Gianna is from, building character relationships, and of course WORKING OUT! You can’t go on camera with quarantine weight on ya, haha!

Pop Culture Principle – What can you tell us about your character Gianna Mackey?

Adriyan Rae – Gianna Mackey, nicknamed Mack or Mackey for short. She grew up in a rough neighborhood in Chicago having known Joe Cruz since she was born. She’s the girl who grew up a tomboy but has now fully embraced her femininity. She’s quick witted and super family oriented. She has a huge heart and a great sense of humor.

Chicago Fire - Season 9

Pop Culture Principle – Right from the jump, your character has this great energy and spirit about her. Would you agree with that?

Adriyan Rae – Yes!! It’s nice to be able to add my personal energy and playful spirit into Gianna. I love it. We have so many things in common when it comes to our personalities; which is why everyone who knows me well saw the Deadline casting announcement article, read the character description, and called/texted saying: “GIRL THIS ROLE IS YOU! IT WAS MEANT FOR YOU!” 🙂

Pop Culture Principle – We find out that Mackey has known Joe Cruz all her life. Cruz has become very protective of Mackey already. Will we see this continue and could it be an issue for Mackey?

Adriyan Rae – I think Cruz is fulfilling a promise he made to Mackey’s older brother years ago and I don’t think anything is going to make him not fulfill that. I think it will become something more of him learning how to handle it with more tact rather than him stopping completely. With the way Mackey handles herself and Joe, I don’t think it will be an issue for her. They have a really close bond that includes open and transparent communication.

Pop Culture Principle – Obviously, COVID has become a part of our daily lives now. Can you talk a little bit about what it has been like to film the show during COVID?

Chicago Fire - Season 9

Adriyan Rae – It has been different. That’s the term I’d use. Not terrible, not bad, not hard… just different. I’m still having fun, learning a lot, and making great memories with the cast and crew.

Pop Culture Principle – Where you at all intimidated by joining a show that has been on the air for such a long time and has such a loyal fanbase?

Adriyan Rae – Intimidated? No. I just knew I had to come in correct and do the work. It’s all about the work, you know. Everyone’s so warm and welcoming they really help you feel like family instantly.

Pop Culture Principle – What was it like stepping on the set of Chicago Fire for the very first time?

Adriyan Rae – Surreal.

Pop Culture Principle – In her first ambulance 61 call with Brett, they are confronted on the call with a man who has them at gunpoint? Now that is a hell of a way to introduce your character to the series.

Adriyan Rae – YES! But also, a really cool way of allowing fans to meet Gianna and find out her personality without it being written; just seeing how she handles things naturally.

Pop Culture Principle – Of course, the city of Chicago is its own character in the series. Can you talk about filming in Chicago and the vibe of Chicago?

Adriyan Rae – Filming in Chicago is really nice. The city’s absolutely gorgeous! The vibe is different; I can’t put my finger on it quite yet, but I’m coming from LA so it’s definitely a different vibe than LA. It’s not worse or better, just different.

Pop Culture Principle – Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the ninth season of Chicago Fire?

Adriyan Rae – More stunts, google eyes, and storylines that make you fall in love with the characters even more 🙂


A huge thank you to Adriyan Rae for taking the time to talk with us. Remember, Chicago Fire returns on Wednesday, January 6th at 9/8c on NBC!

**Main photo courtesy of Diana Ragland**

**All Chicago Fire photos courtesy of Adrian S. Burrows Sr./NBC**

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