Although the Chicago native and eventual “Animal Kingdom” star had popped up briefly in several TV series by 2008 — including “Cold Case” and “Dexter” — her first recurring role was in ABC Family’s “Lincoln Heights.” The series follows Russell Hornsby’s Detective Eddie Sutton and his family as they navigate a life-changing move to the crime-filled neighborhood of Lincoln Heights after Sutton is offered ownership of a recently-raided crack house.
Milauna Jemai Jackson — credited at the time as Milauna Jackson — joined the series in its Season 3 premiere, titled “Glass House.” Jackson’s character, Cydelle “Cyd” Glass, breaks in to the Sutton’s home with two other perpetrators in an effort to reclaim a stash of money she believes is still on the premise. The house originally belonged to Cyd’s grandmother, and she was there the day of the raid. “They didn’t see us,” she says of Sutton and his team, who refused to acknowledge that the house was somebody’s home — “they was just taking out the trash.”
Unbeknownst to Cyd, Sutton’s teenage daughter and her boyfriend are in the house when she breaks in, and she ends up going to jail for taking them hostage in the course of the crime. In the following season, the Sutton patriarch helps Cyd obtain parole, takes her in, and ensures she gets back the money that was left in her grandmother’s house.
Following her role on the four-season series, Jackson made the leap to film with her next project.