Monica Raymund Touts Starzs #TaketheLead Initiatives Impact On Diversity

Monica Raymund is celebrating Starz’s #TaketheLead initiative and the impact it’s had on diversity both on and off-screen.

“We’re starting to see a change that’s happening, not just in front of the camera but also behind the camera and that’s how we shake things up,” Raymund, who stars on the cabler’s Hightown, said in a recorded message played during Starz’s executive panel at CTAM on Thursday.

The initiative was announced in February by Starz President and CEO Jeffrey Hirsch as a comprehensive effort to deepen the company’s existing commitment to narratives by, about and for women and underrepresented audiences.

Raymund is set to direct Episode 202 after the drama’s premiere on October 17.

“Taking the lead means acting from a place of hope and not from fear,” she added. “And encouraging people around me to grant us the permission to tell our stories. We’re not apologizing for the space that we’re taking up. We’re here because we’re worthy of it.”

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She adds, “You often see a crime drama led by male characters, so to be able to see it from the perspective of a woman is an extremely different experience. [Hightown] is led by a woman, created by a woman, and told by a lot of women. I’m very proud to be part of a project that’s not just creating space but also demanding it.”

The Chicago Fire alum brings to life the multi-layered character of Jackie Quiñones, a Latina struggling with addiction issues while simultaneously trying to help solve a crime.

In season 2, she’s finally become a full-fledged police officer determined to bring down drug dealer Frankie Cuevas (Amaury Nolasco), who she blames for the death of her best friend.

“Being able to play a queer Latina and represent myself in this way was really important to me because we don’t know that it’s a possibility without seeing someone like us doing it,” Raymund said.

Hightown is only one of Starz’ diverse offerings. Other titles include P-Valley, Blindspotting, and 50 Cents’ Power Universe series.

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