Chicago lost a true star when DuShon Monique Brown passed away at Franciscan St. James Health Olympia Fields last Friday afternoon.
Besides achieving considerable success in an acting career that included roles on Empire, Prison Break, and Shameless, Brown also formerly served as crisis counselor and leader of a drama program at Kenwood Academy High School.
At the time of her passing, fans knew her as Connie on Chicago Fire, the brusque and forthright assistant to Firehouse 51’s Chief Boden. To the people who worked with Brown, she was not only a talented actor, but also a bright, fun-loving, and kind individual.
“She was one of those people who lit up a room,” says Chicago Fire cast member Robyn Coffin. “She was very real and she knew how to talk to people.”
Although Coffin’s character Cindy Herrmann — wife of fire fighter Christopher Herrmann (David Eigenberg) — shared few scenes with Brown, she remembers the actor as someone who “obviously knew what she was doing.”
“DuShon had a perfect sense of timing, and she was a great listener and a really good scene partner,” Coffin explains. “She was not going to drop the ball, and not hog it.”
Coffin returns to the set today, her first visit since hearing the news. “I’m sure there will be lots of hugs,” she says.
DUSHON MONIQUE BROWN AND ELOISE MUMFORD ON “CHICAGO FIRE”
Brown was also a beloved member of Chicago’s indie community.
While performing the role of Commander Roberta in 2017’s Public Housing Unit — an award-winning TV pilot about the city’s public housing community in the 1980s — she made a similarly positive impression on the show’s creators and executive producers.
“For our thing, her character was really kind of opposite of her real life personality: over the top, foul mouthed, and she cursed like a sailor police sergeant,” says Patrick Wimp, who also wrote the script for PHU.
“She dove right in and did exactly what we were wanting to do and really had a lot of fun with it,” he continues. “My wife and I got to hang out with her at our casting party, and she was just a joy to be around.”
Angie Gaffney, who also produced PHU agrees.
“Her versatility as an actress was to bring authenticity to a character that is so vastly different than her,” she explains. “You peel that character back and she just had the kindest heart. She had this electric personality that lit up the room.”
Wimp and Gaffney both own businesses that reside in the film incubator Stage 18 at Cinespace Studios, which is also home to the set of Chicago Fire. Here, it seems, Brown’s uplifting spirit will not be forgotten.
“Every time I saw her, she always had a smile on her face,” recalls Cinespace President Alex Pissios. “This is a very sad day for our industry.”