INTERVIEW: Torrey DeVitto on Her ‘Chicago Med’ Character, How She Uses Her Voice for Change, ‘Pretty Little Liars,’ and What Message She Wants to Give Fans
Torrey DeVitto stars as Natalie Manning in NBC‘s Chicago Med, and she shared everything fans can expect from the new season, including the fact that they are tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chicago Med comes from Emmy Award-winning executive producer Dick Wolf and is inspired by ripped-from-the-headlines cases. The series takes viewers through the daily chaos that the heroic doctors, nurses, and staff face. Together, the doctors take on Chicago’s most critical medical cases and challenging moral choices. DeVitto portrays Dr. Natalie Manning, a specialist in emergency pediatrics. The show is currently on its’ sixth season.
The hit NBC series is definitely not Torrey’s first notable TV role. The actress is also known for her role as Melissa Hastings on Pretty Little Liars as well as her time on One Tree Hill. She can also be seen in Beautiful People, The Vampire Diaries, and more. Read our exclusive interview with Torrey DeVitto below to find out all about this new season of Chicago Med, her time on Pretty Little Liars, what character she is most similar to, her fans, why she’d want to revisit ‘Nanny Carrie,’ and her feelings on having our first Female, Black and South Asian American Vice President-Elect.
GLITTER: Where did you grow up and what age did you discover your love for acting?
TORREY: I was born in Long Island, New York. I lived there until we moved to Florida when I was 11. I unconsciously discovered my love for acting when I was seven years old and saw Les Miserables on Broadway for the first time. I fell so in love with the character Eponine and her beautiful, belting voice that I had my mom sew me a costume like hers and would put on performances pantomiming to all her songs, having my dad play the role of Marius. I was always performing any and everything for my two sisters, Maryelle and Devon, to try and make them laugh.
Consciously though, I discovered my love for acting when I was 15 years old. I had begun modeling and didn’t really have a knack for it, nor did I like it too much. A photographer in Miami suggested my mom put me in acting classes to “open me up in front of the camera” and to help me get over being a little shy. After I went to my first acting class, I knew modeling was out, and this (acting) was what I wanted to do.
GLITTER: What is your favorite thing about bringing a character and storyline to life?
TORREY: I love finding what makes the character do the things they do. What drives them, what makes them tick. It is my belief that hurt people, hurt people, so even when I am playing a character whose morals I don’t agree with, it’s a fascinating part of the process to try and understand and sympathize with why they do what they do. It’s challenging, and I like a good challenge.
GLITTER: Chicago Med returned in November; what can fans expect from the new season?
TORREY: Every year, Natalie evolves and grows and gets stronger. We can definitely see her coming into her own more. We will see new romances. And we will see the doctors and staff at Chicago Med dealing with all the things the rest of the world is dealing with now as well. I think that’s my favorite thing about the show. We take what’s going on day to day and implement it into the show. We stay true to the real world. Audiences will see COVID in real-time, from the hospital’s POV.
GLITTER: How was filming with all of the necessary safety precautions?
TORREY: It has been interesting, to say the least. I am in awe of all the safety precautions that are taken and how seamlessly things seem to be running during all the mayhem. I feel very safe at work. Having to wear a mask other than when we are rolling has added a little bit of a disconnecting element amongst everyone, but we are a strong family; nothing can break us.
GLITTER: Do you share any characteristics with your character ‘Natalie?’
TORREY: Natalie is probably the one character I share the most characteristics with. Sometimes with certain storylines of hers, I wonder, “is art imitating life or is life imitating art?” which gets a little scary, but I like it. I like that I have let myself blend with this character more than ever before.
GLITTER: Favorite storyline you’ve gotten to do for that role?
TORREY: Oh, there are so many! I feel like our show hits so many topical, important storylines, and I do feel like Natalie gets to play out some of the best ones, in my opinion. I love that she has had moments of talking about equality amongst male and female doctors in the workplace. She had a moment of fighting with ICE about immigration injustice issues. Most recently, in episode 2 of this season that already aired, she had that moment witnessing first-hand racial injustices. I do feel like the writers use her a lot to play out very important story points, which I am always honored to be a part of.
GLITTER: You have also done crossovers with Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D.; what do you enjoy most about those?
TORREY: It’s fun getting to play with the other sets. I really have a good friendship with some of the other castmates on the other shows, so it’s always fun getting to go over there and see them and have a little change of scenery.
GLITTER: If you could do a crossover between Chicago Med and any other show, what would it be?
TORREY: I think it would be hilarious to do a crossover with Med and Grey’s Anatomy. What would that be like?? Lots of drama and arguing over what hospital and doctors know best!
GLITTER: You were recently a guest on the “Pretty Little Wine Moms” podcast. What was it like getting to rewatch an episode of the series and revisit your role of ‘Melissa?’
TORREY: It’s always funny seeing anything PLL Melissa related. That character was such a big part of my life for so long; I really had so much fun playing her. It felt very nostalgic to rewatch it. I have changed and grown so much since filming that show. It felt like watching baby Torrey. It was like, “who is that girl??”
GLITTER: What did you learn from your time on Pretty Little Liars, and what did you love most about it?
TORREY: I loved getting to work with Troian Bellisario on a regular basis. She is such a giving, talented actor. We really got along behind the scenes as well. She is extremely intelligent and kind; conversations with her were always fantastic. I miss working with her. I think what I learned the most from that time was how to find my confidence. The hardest job for an actor on TV is going to someone else’s set, and as a recurring character who came in and out of that show, it was hard finding a consistent flow and feeling really deeply like ‘part of the family.’ On previous shows, I would get so nervous every time I came on that I would be shaking before, but while filming PLL, I got to find my confidence of showing up and not being afraid of taking up space and bringing to the character what I wanted to bring.
GLITTER: What is the most challenging role you’ve done and why?
TORREY: The most challenging role I have done to date was actually, probably, Pretty Little Liars. Only because that show had so many twists and turns and since I wasn’t there every episode it became like a mad dash trying to put all the pieces together and play catch up every time I did come in. They were also so worried about storylines getting leaked that they were very tight-lipped about the intentions with the characters. I always felt like once I got a grasp on who Melissa was, they would change it up the next time I was in, leaving me feeling like I played her incorrectly previously and messed up the consistency of her character. I think it ended up working for the show, but for me as an actor, I always felt all over the place and like I wasn’t doing my job well as far as getting to fully understand who she was as a character went.
GLITTER: You’ve done a few holiday movies, your most recent being Write Before Christmas from 2019. What is your favorite part of doing holiday movies?
TORREY: I love how light and feel good they are. I feel like I have spent a lot of my career playing scenes and characters in anguish and lots of drama, so it’s always fun adding a light-hearted project in during the hiatus. And I love how much people love them. I always get a kick out of that. My family and friends get so excited about the Christmas movies!
GLITTER: What attracts you to a role, and what do you look for in scripts?
TORREY: I always look to see if I feel I can bring something extra to the table for this role. I also look ask myself, “will it be fun to play this part,” and then ask if this script and role will be challenging and does it scare me. I feel like whenever a role makes me nervous, nervous in a good way, that always means I should take it. I love learning new things and stepping into new shoes. If I believe I can do all that and do justice for the character, then I want to do it.
GLITTER: Is there a specific scene or storyline you were nervous about doing but ended up loving the way your performance came across?
TORREY: I was nervous about the storyline from season 5, where Natalie locks the parents out of a little boy’s room because they are refusing to allow me to treat him, and I know if they discharge him, he may die. So she locks the parents out and then gives the boy treatment anyway. I was worried it was too out of character for her to do something that ethical, and it would look overly dramatic for drama’s sake. But it didn’t. The director at the time, John Polson, really helped me justify her actions and work the scene that felt realistic. It turned out to be a really great storyline that I loved being able to perform.
GLITTER: What is your favorite genre to do acting-wise?
TORREY: I love doing drama. I secretly love getting to cry and do heavy emotional stuff. It’s like free therapy! Very cathartic!
GLITTER: Is there a particular aspect of the entertainment industry/process you want to explore more in the future?
TORREY: I have recently started dipping my toes into producing, and I really love it. I am currently working on projects as both producer and actor and am excited to do more of that in the future.
GLITTER: One highlight of your career?
TORREY: Getting to use the platform that being an actor gives me to speak on and stand for causes that matter to me. I remember a few years back; I got to go to the Empire State Building to do press for Mental Health awareness month. I got to flip the switch during a press conference to turn the lights on the Building green to coincide with Mental Health awareness month, and I remember thinking, “Wow. This is really special and really cool. This is why I love what I do.” Anytime I get to lend my name and voice for what matters deep in my heart, it makes me so grateful for the career that I chose, that I get to do that.
GLITTER: You recently announced your collaboration with ‘The Tote Project.’ What can you tell us about that?
TORREY: I was very excited to be asked to do a collaboration with ‘The Tote Project’ for a couple of reasons. Fay Grant, one of the company’s founders and owners, and I met when we were both working at Abercrombie & Fitch at the Woodland Hills mall in California when we were both 18 years old. We lost touch after I went away to Toronto to film my first TV show, Beautiful People, and we didn’t get in touch again until recently when she reached out over Instagram to ask if I was interested in doing this collab with her. I was beyond thrilled to hear from her and to work together to support her incredible work. Not only is ‘The Tote Projects’ mission to end human trafficking, but their totes and pouches are all ethically made and eco friendly. The entire company does so much good. For this specific collab with me, we also made it so that $5.00 from every purchase went towards an organization I am working with called SafeBae to help fund their 2021 virtual summit. It was just such an instant win all around; I couldn’t have been more excited to get it started.
GLITTER: What inspired the design of the ‘Free to Blossom’ tote and pouch that you helped create?
TORREY: Fay hand draws and paints all the artwork on each and every tote and pouch they sell. I really have to attribute the idea of the artwork to her. She asked for my input and opinions, but when she suggested ‘Free to Blossom’ it just felt so right. It was such a beautiful phrase to inspire survivors to be ‘Free to Blossom’ and not allow their assault to define them. I loved it! I wrote the Free to Blossom in my own handwriting, and Fay suggested we use my profile as an outline for the drawing. She felt it would be a fun little something special for anyone purchasing the totes or pouches.
GLITTER: Five dollars from every sale is being donated to SafeBAE. What can you tell us about the organization and what the money will be funding?
TORREY: SafeBae is an organization that helps educate youth on consent and sexual assault. Their 2021 virtual summit will be compiled of breakout sessions with guest speakers to speak to students about things like: healthy masculinity, sexual violence risk as it related to foster youth, body sovereignty, false reporting, sexual violence and suicide, sexual violence in marginalized communities, survivor healing, enthusiastic consent, bystander intervention, online safety, healthy relationships, sex trafficking, dating after sexual violence, sexual violence among LGBTQIA+, sexual violence in the media, and parents of survivors.
GLITTER: One piece of advice or phrase you live by?
TORREY: There was a quote from this book called A Course in Miracles that I think of any time I am starting to spiral or feel anxious and out of control: ‘Nothing real can be threatened. Nothing unreal exists. Herein lies the peace of God.’ Saying that to myself always calms me down, and I realize that if it’s real, nothing will get in the way; if it’s not, then I wouldn’t want it anyway.
GLITTER: What character that you’ve portrayed do you feel you relate to the most?
TORREY: Probably the one I am playing now, Natalie on Chicago Med. I remember feeling so connected to my Character Karen Kerr on Beautiful People, but now that I am older, I have no connection to her anymore. Now it’s Natalie, but I haven’t felt that feeling of truly relating this much to a character since then. Which is, I think, a good thing if you do an overview of the kind of characters I have played in the last 15 years.
GLITTER: Do you have any tips for memorizing tricky scripts?
TORREY: Writing down my lines. If I have a hard time memorizing some lines, I will study the scene, and instead of saying my lines aloud, I will write them all out. I’ll do that about seven times and know, confidently, that I will wake up knowing them.
GLITTER: Advice for anyone looking to go into the acting industry?
TORREY: Work ethic is key. Study your craft, be willing to sacrifice a lot, and get ready to get told no, multiple times, on a daily basis.
GLITTER: If you could replay any character again for either a spin-off or maybe a different age of the character, which would you pick and why?
TORREY: Nanny Carrie from One Tree Hill. If we picked up 15 years later, she might be a serial killer by now. Who knows. It could be good material for a horror film or an American Horror Story type show!
GLITTER: Do you have any dream roles or people you hope to work with in the future?
TORREY: Monica Bellucci has always been on my dream list to work with. I would also love to work with Jodi Comer. I absolutely love her and think she is the best actress for this generation right now. I would also love to play in a biopic. Not sure of who, but I think it would be so fun to step into the character of a real person. I would also love to play in a superhero movie.
GLITTER: If you weren’t an actress, what would be your other dream job?
TORREY: Since getting into Hospice care when I was about 23 years old, I really contemplated leaving acting to become a funeral director. I still have dreams of owning my own funeral home.
GLITTER: How do you use your voice for change, and what causes are you passionate about?
TORREY: When I am passionate about something, I try to speak about it and support causes who do work in that field as much as I can. I also try to donate my time as much as my schedule will allow. I hate just sending out a post. Putting your money where your mouth is is so important to me. I love showing up and volunteering in person. I am passionate about women’s rights and empowering young women to use their voices and learn their “no,” I love talking to youth about sexual consent and helping to educate them about assault and their rights. I am very passionate about animal rights and living a vegetarian life. I love sharing with people all that I learn about living a cruelty-free life by finding brands and products that are vegan and do not test on animals. Also, finding and sharing about vegan fashion companies. I am also extremely passionate about Hospice care. I have been an inpatient volunteer for over ten years now and absolutely love it.
GLITTER: A new President-Elect and VP-Elect has been projected; any thoughts on having Kamala Harris as our first Female, Black, and South Asian American Vice President?
TORREY: I could not be more thrilled to have Kamala Harris as our first Female VP. She represents so much to so many. Her standing on that stage with our new President-Elect as our new Vice President shows young girls all across the country that they can be whatever they want to be. It’s a huge movement for women of color; for her to be representing our country is, I hope, another giant step towards equality. I have a three-and-a-half-year-old sister, and I always think about how cool it is that hopefully, she will grow up thinking it’s just normal to have a female Vice President. It is no longer a victory or a novelty for her generation, but it is just the norm. I can’t wait for that!
GLITTER: Do you have any comfort shows you never get tired of watching?
TORREY: I could probably watch Curb Your Enthusiasm over and over again. That never gets old. I generally don’t rewatch many things, though. If I am going to spend my time watching something, I want it to be something new.
GLITTER: Top five favorite movies?
TORREY: Melena, Moonstruck, Persona, Newsies, and Cinderella (the live-action with Lily James and Richard Madden).
GLITTER: Do you have any favorite beauty products?
TORREY: My favorite skincare line is Elina Organics. Her stuff is organic and completely changed my skin. In love with her line!
GLITTER: One thing fans don’t know about you?
TORREY: That I have been with the same manager for almost 18 years. Loyalty and building history in both career and personal life are two things that are very important to me.
GLITTER: Favorite thing to do in your free time?
TORREY: Read and eat good food.
GLITTER: What was a day in the life of COVID-19 isolation like for you?
TORREY: Lots of ups and downs. Lots of feeling a bit lost and trying to find some form of creativity or motivation to exercise my mind and body. Connecting my nature was my main way of staying grounded and peaceful.
GLITTER: Did you learn anything about yourself over the isolation period?
TORREY: I learned that boundaries are a beautiful thing. I learned how to love myself even when I have nothing to show. I just love myself with no work or accomplishments involved and know that just being me is enough to show up anywhere, in front of anyone with. I learned how to say no and prioritize my own self-care and health.
GLITTER: Do you have any special or memorable fan experiences?
TORREY: I’ve had so many wonderful fan experiences. I have made a lot of connections over the years that have stuck with me. I am always in awe of how brave and vulnerable they are when they share specific stories with me that connect with either a show I am in or an organization I am a part of. I feel so supported in so many ways. It’s really touching.
GLITTER: What is one message you hope to give fans looking up to you?
TORREY: To know that we are all equal, and we are all connected. That perfection is an illusion. That if I can do it, so can you.
GLITTER: Glitter has a celebrity #SelfLoveCampaign. What does self-love mean to you?
TORREY: Self-love means listening to your gut and your intuition and following it. Self-love means only allow people in your life who love you for exactly who you are, the good and the bad, and who support you and want to see you thrive and glow. Self-love means loving who you are, imperfections included—being kind to yourself and your body, no matter what. Self-love means allowing yourself to eat healthy foods and get lots of sleep. Self-love, to me means learning how to be as happy with yourself as you would with anyone else.
GLITTER: Do you have any new projects coming up that you can share?
TORREY: I did a short film called Divertimento last summer that will be coming out soon.
GLITTER: What are the best social media platforms for fans to follow you?
TORREY: I use Instagram the most. My handle is @TorreyDeVitto. I also have Facebook and Twitter, where you can also find me @TorreyDeVitto.