Daphne Rubin-Vega

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Daphne Rubin-Vega
Daphne Rubin-Vega.jpg
Rubin-Vega attending the final Broadway performance of Rent
Born (1969-11-18) November 18, 1969 (age 51)
Panama City, Panama
OccupationDancer, actress, singer-songwriter
Years active1979–present

Daphne Rubin-Vega (born November 18, 1969) is a Panamanian-American dancer, singer-songwriter, and actress. She is best known for originating the roles of Mimi Marquez in the Broadway musical Rent[1] and Lucy in the Off-Broadway play Jack Goes Boating.[2]

Rubin-Vega also appeared as Bombshell publicist Agnes in the second season of the TV series Smash (2012) and as Luisa Lopez in the TV series Katy Keene (2020). In 2021, Rubin-Vega starred as salon owner Daniela in the film adaptation of Lin-Manuel Miranda's In the Heights.[3]

Early life and pre-Broadway[edit]

Rubin-Vega was born in Panama City, Panama, the daughter of Daphine Corina, a nurse, and José Mercedes Vega, a carpenter.[4] Her Jewish stepfather, Leonard Rubin, was a writer.[4] Daphine moved from Panama to the United States with her children when Daphne was only two years old. She died when Daphne was ten.[5] Rubin-Vega studied theater at the New Labyrinth Theater Company as well as with William Esper. She also performed with the comedy group El Barrio USA.[6][7]

Rent and Broadway[edit]

While performing with El Barrio USA, Rubin-Vega landed an audition for a new musical written and composed by Jonathan Larson. The role was for Broadway musical Rent, and the role was Mimi Marquez, a nineteen-year-old, HIV-positive heroin addict who works at the Cat Scratch Club as an exotic dancer. Before landing the role, Rubin-Vega claims that she was not a major fan of musical-theater. The struggling actress auditioned for musical director Tim Weil by singing "Roxanne" by The Police. She was then handed an original number from the production and told to learn it.[6] Rubin-Vega performed in the original workshop before the play went to Broadway. At the time, the script was vastly different from the current version. She developed the role all the way to its Broadway premiere.[8] She left the cast on April 5, 1997, and was replaced by Marcy Harriell. Rubin-Vega did not participate in the film adaptation of Rent, as she was pregnant at the time of the movie's casting and filming.[9] The role was subsequently given to Rosario Dawson. One of her castmates was Wilson Jermaine Heredia, with whom she also starred in the 1999 film Flawless.[10]

Rubin-Vega has two Tony Award nominations to her credit: one for her role in Rent as Best Actress in a Musical,[11] and the other for her performance as Conchita in Anna in the Tropics (2003), as Best Performance by a Featured Actress in a Play.[12] She won the Theatre World Award in 1996 for Rent. She was also awarded the Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Suspense Thriller for her role in the film Wild Things with Kevin Bacon, Matt Dillon and Neve Campbell.

She later appeared in the 2000 Broadway production of The Rocky Horror Show in the role of Magenta.[13] Rubin-Vega continued the role through the 2001 terrorist attacks in New York, and in 2005, Rubin-Vega later recounted in an interview with Fox News that the theater had gone from selling out to barely selling any tickets at all: "It went from full house to practically two people."[14] She starred with Phylicia Rashad in a musical version of Federico García Lorca's The House of Bernarda Alba at Lincoln Center in March 2006.[15] She played the role of Fantine in the 2006 Broadway revival of the popular musical Les Misérables beginning November 9.[9] On March 2, 2007, she was replaced by Filipino Tony Award winning actress Lea Salonga.

Later career: Jack Goes Boating and further productions[edit]

In February 2007, Daphne Rubin-Vega performed alongside Philip Seymour Hoffman in the play Jack Goes Boating off-Broadway at The Public Theater and also appeared in the film version.[16][17] Rubin-Vega appeared in a cameo role in Sex and the City, which premiered in May 2008.

In November 2010, she received the Independent Spirit Awards nomination for 2011, for her role in Jack Goes Boating. The award ceremony was held in Santa Monica, California in February 2011.[18] She starred Off-Broadway as Yvette in Tommy Nohilly's world premier of Blood From A Stone at The New Group's Acorn Theater until February 19, 2011. She appeared in the Off-Broadway cast of Love, Loss, and What I Wore from March 23 to April 24, 2011. Later that year, the feature film Union Square, co-written and directed by the Sundance Film Festival's Grand Jury Award Winner, Nancy Savoca, premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival. In it, Daphne co-starred with Mira Sorvino, Patti Lupone, Tammy Blanchard, Mike Doyle, and Michael Rispoli.[19] In spring 2012, Rubin-Vega returned to Broadway in a new revival of Tennessee Williams' A Streetcar Named Desire, playing the role of Stella Kowalski opposite Blair Underwood as Stanley. This revival was directed by Emily Mann and featured a mostly African-American cast.

In October 2016, Rubin-Vega starred in the world premiere of Miss You Like Hell, a new musical by Quiara Alegría Hudes and Erin McKeown, at the La Jolla Playhouse.[20] The show opened off-Broadway at The Public Theater in New York on April 10, 2018, with Rubin-Vega reprising the role of Beatriz.

Rubin-Vega performed the lead role in the scripted fiction podcast, The Horror of Dolores Roach, which was released by Gimlet Media in October 2018.[21] The story, co-starring Bobby Cannavale as Louis,[22] is a contemporary reimagining of Sweeney Todd, using cannibalism as a metaphor for gentrification.[23] Dolores Roach is an adaptation of Rubin-Vega's stage performance in the one-woman play Empanada Loca. Both Empanada Loca and Dolores Roach were written by playwright Aaron Mark especially for Rubin-Vega,[23] who said in a Vulture interview that he "wanted to do a deep dive into a character we haven't seen depicted much in the horror cannon."[23] Mimi O'Donnell, head of scripting at Gimlet Media, has said that Rubin-Vega's "imprint on this was enormous," referring to Rubin-Vega's contributions in both scripting and casting the podcast adaptation.[24]

Since 2020, she plays the role of Luisa Lopez, a recurring character, in the television series Katy Keene on The CW.

In 2021, Rubin-Vega played the role of Daniela in In the Heights, earning praise for her performance from critics. Rubin-Vega's involvement with the original musical dates back to its Off-Broadway and Broadway productions, where she provided the voice of the DJ who opens the show.[25]

Music career[edit]

She began her musical career as the lead singer for the Latin freestyle group Pajama Party, placing three songs on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1989 and 1990. As a solo artist her biggest success is on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, where in 1996 she hit No. 1 with the song "I Found It."

She returned to the top of the dance/club play charts in 2003 with a dance version of Elton John's "Rocketman". In 2001, she recorded her debut full-length rock album of original songs, Souvenirs. The album was never officially released after Mercury Records was purchased by Seagram. After being dropped from her label, Rubin-Vega began gifting copies out to fans, encouraging them to leak it online.[26] The record later saw limited release for the charity Broadway Cares.[27]

Rubin-Vega also released her second full-length album of original songs titled Redemption Songs released on October 2006 on Sh-K Boom Records.[9] Her rock band DRV is currently performing live shows in New York City.


With Pajama Party:


  • 1994 – When You Love Someone (Single)
  • 1995 – Change (Single)
  • 1995 – I Found It (Single) Produced and co-written by David Anthony
  • 2001 – Souvenirs
  • 2003 – Rocket Man (EP)
  • 2006 – Redemption Songs

Rubin-Vega also appears on the original cast recording of Rent and the revival recording of The Rocky Horror Show. Rubin-Vega also appears on A Very Marti Holiday, a Christmas album heavily featured on Shade: Queens of NYC in which Rubin-Vega also had a guest appearance, and on the Katy Keene soundtrack.

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Work Result
1996 Tony Award Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a Musical Rent Nominated
Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Nominated
Theatre World Award Theatre World Award Won
1999 ALMA Award Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film Wild Things Nominated
Blockbuster Entertainment Awards Favorite Supporting Actress – Suspense Won
2001 New York International Independent Film and Video Festival Best Actress Skeleton Woman Won
2004 Tony Award Best Featured Actress in a Play Anna in the Tropics Nominated
2010 Independent Spirit Awards Best Supporting Female Jack Goes Boating Nominated
2012 Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play A Streetcar Named Desire Nominated
2013 GenArt Film Festival Feature Film Emotion ;) Won
Indie Series Awards Best Supporting Actress (Drama) Hustling Nominated
2014 Best Lead Actress (Drama) Nominated
2016 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Solo Performance Empanada Loca Nominated
Outer Critics Circle Award Outstanding Solo Performance Nominated
2018 Drama Desk Award Outstanding Actress in a Musical Miss You Like Hell Nominated


  1. ^ "Rent Party at the NY Theater Workshop". nydailynews.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ "Rubin-Vega Jack Goes Boating". nydailynews.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  3. ^ "'In the Heights' Adds Daphne Rubin-Vega, Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco". hollywoodreporter.com. Retrieved June 12, 2021.
  4. ^ a b "Daphne Rubin-Vega Biography (1969–)" filmreference.com
  5. ^ Mandell, Jonathan. "Stellaaaaa! Streetcar's Daphne Rubin-Vega Relishes Wounded and Resilient Characters". Playbill. Archived from the original on July 14, 2014.
  6. ^ a b Levin, Hannah. "Daphne Rubin-Vega: A Smash Hit". Master Chat.
  7. ^ Gonzalez, Irina. "The Vagina Monologues in Spanish". Latina.
  8. ^ Daphne Rubin-Vega (2011). Theater Talk (Streaming).
  9. ^ a b c Gans, Andrew."Diva Talk: Chatting with Les Miz's Daphne Rubin-Vega PLUS News of LuPone, D'Abruzzo and Murphy" Archived October 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, October 13, 2006
  10. ^ Kissel, Howard."'RENT' COMES DUE ON BROADWAY PAY-UP TIME AS LAUDED SHOW'S FLAWS ARE MAGNIFIED IN THE MOVE UPTOWN" Archived July 25, 2008, at the Wayback Machine The New York Daily News, April 30, 1996
  11. ^ Internet Broadway Database listing ibdb.com, retrieved December 1, 2010
  12. ^ Jones, Kenneth."Wicked, Frozen, I Am My Own Wife, Caroline, Oz Among 2004 Tony Nominees" Archived July 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, May 10, 2004
  13. ^ O'Toole, Fintan.'Rocky Horror' Naughty & Nice"[permanent dead link] The New York Daily News November 16, 2000
  14. ^ Daphne Rubin-Vega (2005). Fox News: Live From Broadway (Broadcast News and Streaming).
  15. ^ Simonson, Robert. "Hello, Again: LaChiusa Opens Bernarda Alba, His Second New Musical of Season, March 6" Archived October 19, 2012, at the Wayback Machine playbill.com, March 6, 2006
  16. ^ Weitzman, Elizabeth."Philip Seymour Hoffman great in 'Jack Goes Boating,' but supporting cast feels too scripted" The New York Daily News, September 17, 2010
  17. ^ Brantlry, Ben."The Zen Art of Life Maintenance (Pass the Bong, Please)" The New York Times, March 19, 2007
  18. ^ "Rubin-Vega Honored With 2011 Spirit Award Nomination". broadway.com. Retrieved December 1, 2010.
  19. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on September 11, 2011. Retrieved August 18, 2011.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  20. ^ "Know Before You Go: Miss You Like Hell" Archived October 27, 2016, at the Wayback Machine lajollaplayhouse.org, 2016
  21. ^ "The Horror of Dolores Roach". Gimlet Media. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  22. ^ Dixon, Emily. "You'll Be OBSESSED With Daphne Rubin-Vega's New Podcast Based On A Classic Horror". Bustle. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  23. ^ a b c "The Story Behind The Horror of Dolores Roach". www.vulture.com. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  24. ^ Hess, Amanda (September 13, 2018). "The Best New Social Thriller Is a Podcast". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved January 13, 2019.
  25. ^ Brody, Caitlin. "Stephanie Beatriz, Dascha Polanco, and Daphne Rubin-Vega Are the Holy Trinity of In the Heights". Vanity Fair. Retrieved June 17, 2021.
  26. ^ Strauss, Neil. "Daphne Rubin-Vega keeps chasing after hard luck". New York Times.
  27. ^ Vettorino, Jackie. "Rubin-Vega crowds Lower New York City pub with solo pop-rock performance". The Quinnipiac Chronicle.

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