‘Top Gun: Maverick’s Monica Barbaro Also Played a Major ‘Chicago Justice’ and ‘PD’ Role

by Craig Garrett

Actor Monica Barbaro may seem like an overnight sensation thanks to Top Gun: Maverick, but fans of the One Chicago franchise know better. Barbaro played defense attorney Anna Valdez on Chicago Justice. Her character also appeared on Chicago P.D. defending Detective Erin Lindsay. Here’s a look at how that part helped her go from being an unknown to being in the biggest movie of 2022.

Today, many would say that Monica Barbaro is best known for playing Lieutenant Natasha “Phoenix” Trace in Top Gun: Maverick. However, she was previously a mainstay in Dick Wolf’s Chicago franchise. Barbaro was born in San Francisco, California, and grew up in a suburb of the city. She studied dance throughout college before shifting to acting. She had a handful of TV and minor film appearances under her belt. Before getting her first regular job in the Chicago franchise, she had a recurring part on Lifetime’s UnREAL.

Monica Barbaro makes the jump to Chicago Justice

On Chicago P.D., Monica Barbaro was first introduced in a four-part storyline. It served as something of a back door pilot for Chicago Justice. Her character was a key player in Chicago Justice during its first season the following year. She’s a competent assistant state attorney who is focused on obtaining justice. Anna Valdez is willing to bend the rules if she gets what she believes is justice.

“She is feisty. [My character] will absolutely speak her mind. She wants to impress Jefferies and Stone but she’s not afraid to speak her mind,” Monica Barbaro told Fansided in 2017. “She’s really passionate about justice in the same way Stone is and yet she has different opinions. I think that’s my favorite thing about her is that she’s willing to stick up for herself. Especially these days with things that are happening politically, I think it’s an important time to speak your mind and I appreciate she does that.”

Unfortunately, Chicago Justice only aired for one season. The series was canceled to avoid overstretching the franchise, according to network executives. However, many fans hope that characters like Valdez will appear in one of the franchise’s other continuing programs.

Monica Barbaro never expected to play a fighter pilot

Barbaro recently opened up to the AV Club about her Top Gun role. “I never expected that I would ever have the opportunity to play a fighter pilot. If you’d asked me, I would have been, like, “Yeah, let’s do it!” But I never expected to be handed this opportunity,” she said. ” And when I saw the first movie, I remember being like, “Oh, I’d love to be in a movie like that—but I never thought it could be as a pilot.” And it’s nothing like anything I’ve ever played.”