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From Moorhead to 'Chicago PD'

CHICAGO - Before Ally Carey landed a one-time role on a popular TV drama, the show's producers had one request - she should be "sexier." "When I said to my agent, 'What do you mean sexier?...

Ally Carey
Moorhead native and Trollwood alumna Ally Carey, 27, recently filmed three scenes for an episode of the popular NBC drama "Chicago PD" that premiered Wednesday night. Special to The Forum

CHICAGO - Before Ally Carey landed a one-time role on a popular TV drama, the show's producers had one request - she should be "sexier."

"When I said to my agent, 'What do you mean sexier? Like more makeup or a low-cut top?' and he said, 'You know, whatever makes you feel sexy,' and I was like, 'Well, none of those things make me feel sexy, but if I did what makes me feel sexy, that would not be right for TV,' " she said.

She came back with a new top and some extra makeup and got the part, beating out dozens of other hopefuls for a gig on "Chicago PD" in an episode that premiered Wednesday night on NBC.

It's the first big role on primetime TV for the 27-year-old Moorhead native and Trollwood alumna who graduated from Moorhead High School in 2005 and earned a bachelor of fine arts in 2009 from the University of Minnesota/Guthrie Theater actor training program.

Carey, who has worked at a number of Shakespeare festivals across the country and also shot commercials for the likes of Perkins and Dairy Queen restaurants, has based herself in Chicago for the past couple years.

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She went to an audition for "Chicago PD," a spinoff of popular NBC drama "Chicago Fire" now in its first season, on a Monday in late February. She was put on "first refusal" within an hour, meaning she was a finalist for the gig.

Carey was back at auditions the following day, and just two days after her first audition, she had been hired and told she would shoot her scenes later that week.

The opportunity was "serendipitous," she said - the character shared her first name, albeit with a slightly different spelling.

In the episode, Carey's character, Allie Corson, comes back from Phoenix to her hometown of Chicago to reunite with family members after Detective Jay Halstead (played by Jesse Lee Soffer) helped solve the murder of her little brother years before.

But the two also have some unfinished business - their high-school romance - with a plotline that gave Carey an interesting first experience on the set.

"The first scene we shot is actually the opening shot, which is sexy time and we're making out," she said. "It's the first time I've ever done anything like that, so the other actor, Jesse, who plays my former boyfriend, was laughing and said, 'I can't believe this is your first shoot and you have to take your top off.' "

While her relatives back home, including father Scott Carey and mother Robin Sweeney in Moorhead, were excited to see her primetime TV debut, she said she'd warned them they'd have to be OK with seeing her in a bra.

Carey's character has three scenes in the episode, and said it gave her a chance to learn to act for TV, not the theater stage where she has more experience.

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"The storytelling is much more about a look or your reaction or how the camera discovers you standing somewhere," she said. "It's interesting that a lot of the storytelling is done that way and not necessarily with you talking about it, which is the opposite of Shakespeare."

The episode leaves the characters' relationship open-ended, meaning there's a chance Halstead's old flame could return to "Chicago PD" someday.

For now, Carey said she's preparing to move to California in the fall to start grad school at the University of San Diego, where she'll pursue a master's of fine arts degree. Eventually, she said she'd like to try more film work, and maybe write and produce some of her own work.

But it's a tempting thought to come back for more screen time on "Chicago PD," she said - if the writers can find a reason for Allie Corson to make her way back into Detective Halstead's love life.

"You never know," she said. "I could come back and have his baby, or you could never hear from me again."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587

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