Lauren Vélez

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Lauren Vélez
Lauren Vélez.jpg
Vélez at 2013 Comic-Con International
Born (1964-11-02) November 2, 1964 (age 49)
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1994–present

Lauren Vélez (born November 2, 1964) is an American actress and the twin sister of actress Loraine Vélez. Her most notable roles are as María LaGuerta on Dexter, Detective Nina Moreno on Fox's New York Undercover, Dr. Gloria Nathan on HBO's prison drama, Oz, and Elena on ABC's comedy-drama, Ugly Betty.[1]

Early years[edit]

Vélez's parents moved from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s and lived in the Brooklyn borough of New York City where she and her twin sister were born. Their father was a New York City police officer who eventually bought a house in the middle-class neighborhood of Rockaway, Queens, and moved there with his wife and eight children. The sisters enjoyed setting up improvised plays and acting for the family since childhood. Vélez once played the part of a groundhog in a second grade school play, after which she decided to be an actress.[2]

After graduating from high school, the twins both received scholarships to attend the Alvin Ailey School (affiliated with Alvin Ailey, American Dance Theater). They also studied acting at The Acting Studio with James Price, and Lauren studied Shakespeare with Michael Howard.


Vélez landed her first job performing in the national touring company of the musical Dreamgirls. Vélez also played understudy for actress Phylicia Rashad in Stephen Sondheim's Into the Woods. She also performed Off-Broadway in the productions of Much Ado About Nothing

In 1995, Vélez landed her first major television role. She was cast as Nina Moreno, a policewoman in the TV series New York Undercover.[3] That same year, she also made her film debut as Lisette Linares in the movie I Like It Like That alongside Rita Moreno and Jon Seda.[4] She was nominated for the Independent Spirit Award and The Desi Award for Best Lead Actress. The movie was nominated for four Independent Spirit Awards and won an NYFCCA award. Another TV series in which she performed was HBO's jail drama, Oz. She also acted in the feature film City Hall, with Al Pacino. In 1997, Vélez starred in Buscando un Sueño (In Search of a Dream), the first Spanish language film sanctioned by SAG. Vélez played a supporting role on Showtime's series Dexter, again playing a police lieutenant.[2]

On June 24, 2006, she won the Best Supporting Actress award at the 2006 Long Island International Film Expo for her performance as Roseanne Crystal in the independent feature film, Serial.[3]

In 2010, she received the Rita Moreno HOLA Award for Excellence from the Hispanic Organization of Latin Actors (HOLA).


Year Title Role Notes
1994 I Like It Like That Lisette Linares Independent Spirit Awards for Best Female Lead
1995 The Cosby Mysteries Claudine Palmeri TV series
1995–1998 New York Undercover Det. Nina Moreno TV series
NCLR Bravo Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series (1998)
Nominated — Image Award for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series (1997, 1998)
1996 City Hall Elaine Santos Nominated — NCLR Bravo Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
1997 Buscando un Sueño ("In Search of a Dream")
1997–2003 Oz Dr. Gloria Nathan ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Series (2001)
Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Series (1999, 2000, 2002)
1997 I Think I Do Carol Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film
1998 Thicker Than Blood Camilla López Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in Made-for Television Movie or Mini-Series
1998 The LaMastas
1999 St. Michael's Crossing Vicki Solera
1999 Taino Laura
1999 Law & Order Miss Torez (Defence Attorney) "Marathon" (Season 10, Episode 6)
2000 Prince of Central Park Rosa Sánchez
2001 Prison Song Prison Counselor
2001 Love and Treason Agent Susan Mestre
2005 Strong Medicine Dr. Vanessa Burke
2005 Barely Buzzed María Vásquez
2006 Medium Elena Cabrera
2006 Numb3rs Claudia Gomez
2006–2012 Dexter Cpt. María LaGuerta NAMIC Vision Award for Best Actress - Drama
Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie (2007, 2008)
Nominated — Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series (2008 - 2011)
2007 Serial Roseanne Crystal Long Island International Film Expo for Best Supporting Actress
2008–2010 Ugly Betty Elena "Kissed Off" (Season 3, Episode 13)
"The Courtship of Betty's Father" (Season 3, Episode 14)
"There's No Place Like Mode" (Season 3, Episode 15)
"Things Fall Apart" (Season 3, Episode 16)
"A Mother of a Problem" (Season 3, Episode 18)
"The Past Presents the Future" (Season 4, Episode 19)
2011 Breakout Kings Carmen Vega

See also[edit]


External links[edit]