May 31, 1974
El Paso, Texas, U.S.
Ara Celi (born May 31, 1974) is an American actress active in American film and television. She had a starring role in the minor 1997 dance movie Looking for Lola, but she is probably best known for her role as Ampata Gutierrez aka "Inca Mummy Girl" from season two of Buffy the Vampire Slayer. She is now most often seen in television advertisements alongside an Austin Powers impersonator for a car dealership in Austin, Texas.
Celi, a Mexican-American, was born Araceli Valdez in El Paso, Texas, one of six children. She attended J. M. Hanks High School, graduating in 1992. While at Hanks, she appeared in student productions of Splendor in the Grass, Crimes of the Heart, and The Wiz. She later attended the University of Texas at El Paso. While there, she entered and won the GuyRex Mrs. Texas Pageant (1994), later becoming a semifinalist in The GuyRex Miss World USA pageant (also 1994).
She moved to Mexico at age 18 where she had a role on a Spanish language soap opera. After three months she decided to move to Los Angeles where she landed a guest appearance on Saved by the Bell: The College Years. She made several other guest appearances in television series including The Brothers García, Nip/Tuck and Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
In 1999, she played Raquel Dion Santos in a nine-month attachment to All My Children. She was also in Bruce Almighty, American Beauty and From Dusk Till Dawn 3: The Hangman's Daughter, playing Esmeralda. She acted in the 2000 independent feature film Go Fish, directed by Lawrence L. Simeone. She has also provided her voice as Katarina DeLeon in Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat. She recently played a reporter in Robert Rodriguez' film Machete (2010).
She was married in 2000 to Robert Godines, a financial advisor, and in 2006 they moved to the Texas Hill Country near San Antonio to start a family. They have two children, a boy and a girl. Celi is a spokesperson for a local automotive dealership and she and her husband own a barbering franchise in San Antonio.
- Article: "A Latina in Hollywood"
- Texas House of Representatives resolution to recognize Araceli Valdez, 1997 (.doc format)
- "Miss World USA Titleholders"
- Soap Central article
- Nicole Ochoa, "Pursuit of Passion", Inside San Antonio (online), 24 August 2007. Accessed March 15, 2008.