The first time I saw Victoria Blade, I cried.
That was in February when I saw her in “Crime Scene,” a play by Collaboraction Theater that offered a gripping tale of how violence in our city affects all of us. She played Natasha McShane, the real-life victim of a brutal baseball bat beating in Bucktown in 2010.
Blade, who grew up in a small town, was dubbed a “hot new face of Chicago theater” by the Chicago Tribune in 2011. Blade's performance in "Crime Scene" of an original song, “Let Hope Rise,” proved them right.
Blade also performed most recently on stage at First Folio Theater and was nominated for a Jeff Equity Award for original music in a "Spoon River Anthology" at Provision Theater. In January, she's playing "Susan," the lead female role in the musical "Sweet Smell of Success" at Theater Wit.
So it wasn’t much of a surprise Monday when Blade sent out word via Facebook that her breakthrough is happening right here in Chicago.
“I’m excited to announce that I booked a role on 'Chicago Fire' on NBC,” Blade wrote. “This career is not easy, but the moments of breakthrough are so sweet.”
On "Chicago Fire," Blade will play the wife of one of the show's firefighters. Blade is expected to appear in the seventh episode, which will likely air in November.
On Tuesday, Blade got fitted for her costume, and she's slated to start filming her scenes beginning Wednesday.
"I saw the set, it's really exciting," Blade said. "From what the script says, it's going to be a really exciting episode."
Blade, who lives in Lincoln Square with her husband, said she auditioned for roles on "Chicago Fire" four different times and this is the part she wanted most. She's hoping to get lucky and see her role as the firefighter's wife return in future episodes.
"You never can tell," she said.
Collaboraction Executive Producer Anthony Moseley said no one who knows Blade’s work should be surprised by her good fortune.
“The thing about Victoria is she’s an open soul. It’s almost like she comes from another era when American virtues and values were a little different,” he said.
“She has a radiance and presence that’s who she is. There’s something about growing up in a small town, having a strong family and a big open heart that gives her this beautiful simplicity you can feel when you talk to her and see it on stage. I’m sure that’s what the producers of 'Chicago Fire' saw.”