How they got their start: Tracey Needham

By: Start TV Staff     Posted: March 22, 2019, 4:26PM

Image: The Everett Collection

On The Division, Tracey Needham plays inspector Candace "C.D." DeLorenzo for the series' first three seasons. From the very first episode, C.D. establishes right away that she's a thorough cop who explores every lead, a prideful part of her nature that can make it difficult for her to partner well with others, including her original partner Angela Reide, who in the pilot manages to further alienate by beating C.D.'s record in target shooting. Eventually, C.D. partners with Jon Hamm's Nate Basso, and a flirtation develops immediately, ultimately softening C.D. when the duo has to decide in later seasons if the romance between them is real.

Like every character on The Division, C.D. has a complicated backstory, but the veteran TV actress that she is, Needham is used to playing that sort of thing. On the first cast she ever joined, she stepped into the role of Paige Thatcher on Life Goes On after the original actress Monique Lanier left the show. As Paige, Needham played oldest sister to Corky and Becca, showing great affection for the former but seriously struggling to get along with the latter.

Life Goes On was an award-winning sitcom that lasted four seasons, and it garnered so much positive praise that even now three decades later, Needham is likely best recognized by fans as Paige Thatcher. However, we actually saw the budding TV star on a couple shows before her Life Goes On debut in 1990. In 1988, she took on her first TV role on the crime drama Jake and the Fatman, and in 1989 and 1990, she appeared twice on Coach.

In that way, the young star kicked her career off straddling sitcom and crime drama worlds, a pattern that would continue throughout her career. After Life Goes On ended, Needham joined the cast of the crime drama JAG, where she played Meg Austin, partner to the series star in its first season. We're not sure what would've happened if NBC didn't cancel that series after its first season, because when that happened, Needham walked away, only to have CBS pick up the series and recast the role. 

After the JAG snag, Needham was quickly cast next in Total Security, a short-lived series from TV drama heavyweights Steven Bochco (NYPD Blue, L.A. Law) and David Milch (Deadwood, NYPD Blue) and starring Jim Belushi as a slovenly detective. The actress wouldn't join another TV cast until The Division in 2001, which would also be her final cast (so far).

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