Firehouse 51 will have a new paramedic when Chicago Fire returns for its ninth season. Adriyan Rae, who starred in the second season of Hulu's Light as a Feather as Peri Boudreaux last year, will star as Gianna Mackey. The show previously promoted Daniel Kyri, who plays Darren Ritter, to series regular. Chicago Fire will air on Wednesdays in November on NBC, alongside Chicago Med and Chicago P.D.
Gianna is described as "a lovable troublemaker with a twinkle in her eye," Deadline reports. She has a "charming, scrappy, fun, witty and good-natured" personality and was raised by working-class parents. Gianna tends to treat everyone like family but refuses to be seen as a pushover. She rushes to help the defenseless and is never afraid to confront chaos head-on.
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Rae will fill the slot made available after Annie Ilonzeh announced she will not be coming back. Ilonzeh starred as Emily Foster in Seasons 7 and 8. At the end of Season 8, Emily applied to medical school again and delivered a speech to Northwestern University admissions officials, which gave the character an opening to leave Firehouse 51. Unfortunately, Ilonzeh did not get a true goodbye, since production was halted with three episodes left to film due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Writers did not pen Season 8, Episode 20 (titled "51's Original Bell") as the season finale, but executive producer Derek Haas was not too disappointed. The episode left several story threads dangling, and the pandemic delay gave his writing team more time to decide where the show can go in Season 9. "It allows us to explore relationships and characters on a wider timeline than we've ever had," Haas told Entertainment Tonight back in April. "We can look seasons ahead instead of episodes ahead. And yes, we will definitely have more cast shake-ups in the coming season. It's just part of the way we work to keep our audience on their toes. When viewers say, 'It'll never happen' on other shows, we want them to say, 'It's Chicago Fire… they might just do it.'"
Rae began her acting career in 2015 and appeared in the Atlanta episode "Champagne Papi" in 2018. Last year was a breakthrough year for Rae, as she starred in 15 episodes of Light as a Feather's second season. Earlier this year, she played the lead in the SyFy series Vagrant Queen, which was canceled after just one season and 10 episodes. Rae also starred in the 2018 Superfly remake.