Lauren Vélez

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Lauren Vélez
Lauren Vélez (cropped).jpg
Vélez at 2013 Comic-Con International
Luna Lauren Vélez

(1964-11-02) November 2, 1964 (age 56)[1]
Years active1994–present
RelativesLorraine Vélez (twin sister)

Luna Lauren Vélez (born November 2, 1964) is an American actress and the twin sister of actress Lorraine Vélez. Her most notable roles are as María LaGuerta on Showtime's 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.[2]

Early life and education[edit]

In the early 1950s, Vélez's parents moved from Puerto Rico to Brooklyn, where she and her twin sister, Lorraine Vélez, were born. The twins have five other sisters and one brother. Vélez's father, a New York City Police Department officer, eventually bought a house in Far Rockaway, Queens and moved the family there. The twins staged improvised plays and acting for the family and participated in nearly all their high school drama productions, such as Fiddler on the Roof. After graduating from Beach Channel High School in 1982, they received scholarships to attend the Alvin Ailey Dance School. They went on to study acting at the Acting Studio with its founding artistic director James Price, the protégé and personal friend of Sanford Meisner. Lauren also studied Shakespeare with Michael Howard.[3]


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

In 1995, Vélez landed her first major television role as Nina Moreno, a policewoman, in the TV series New York Undercover.[4] That year, she also made her film debut as Lisette Linares in the movie I Like It Like That alongside Rita Moreno and Jon Seda.[5] 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 (1996) with Al Pacino. In 1997, she starred in Buscando un Sueño (In Search of a Dream), the first Spanish-language film sanctioned by SAG. She again played police lieutenant María LaGuerta, in a major supporting role on Showtime's series Dexter.[6]

On June 24, 2006, Vélez 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.[4]

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
1996 City Hall Elaine Santos Nominated — NCLR Bravo Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series
1997 I Think I Do Carol Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film
2000 Prince of Central Park Rosa Sanchez
2007 Serial Roseanne Crystal Long Island International Film Expo for Best Supporting Actress
2011 Rosewood Lane Paula Crenshaw
2016 Officer Downe Chief Berringer
2016 America Adrift Cecilia Fernandez
2018 The First Purge Luisa
2018 Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse Rio Morales (voice)
2019 Swallow Lucy
2019 Shaft Bennie
2019 Widows on the World Eva
2020 Ana Camila


Year Title Role Notes
1995 The Cosby Mysteries Claudine Palmeri "The Hit Parade"
1995–1999 New York Undercover Det. Nina Moreno Main role (seasons 2–4)
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)
1997–2003 Oz Dr. Gloria Nathan Guest (season 1), recurring role (seasons 2–6)
ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Series (2001)
Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Series (1999, 2000, 2002)
1998 Thicker Than Blood Camilla Lopez TV film
Nominated — ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in Made-for Television Movie or Mini-Series
1999 Strange World Det. Arias "Azrael's Breed"
1999 St. Michael's Crossing Vicki Solera TV series
1999 Law & Order Ms. Torres "Marathon"
2000 The Pretender Emily Sadler "Spin Doctor"
2000 Profiler Emily Sadler "Clean Sweep"
2001 Love and Treason Agent Susan Mestre TV film
2003 Dragnet Det. Denise Beltran "Redemption," "For Whom the Whistle Blows"
2004 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Attorney Shamal "Home", "Obscene"
2005 Strong Medicine Dr. Vanessa Burke "First Response"
2005 Wanted Faye Templeton "The Last Templeton"
2006 Medium Elena Cabrera "Knowing Her"
2006–07 Numbers Claudia Gomez "Undercurrents", "Hardball", "Contenders"
2006–2012 Dexter María LaGuerta Main role (seasons 1–7)
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)
2008 Law & Order: Criminal Intent Officer Lois Melago "Purgatory"
2009–10 Ugly Betty Elena Recurring role (seasons 3–4)
2011 Breakout Kings Carmen Vega "Where in the World Is Carmen Vega"
2011 Hawthorne Dr. Kat "For Better or Worse"
2014 Unforgettable Aisha Conway "Fire and Ice"
2015 South of Hell Tetra Main role
2016 Elementary Zoe Mercado "Art Imitates Art"
2016–17 How to Get Away with Murder Soraya Hargrove Recurring role (season 3), guest (season 4)
2017 Madam Secretary Natalia Moreno "Labor of Love"
2017–2018 Blue Bloods Special Agent Veronica Molina "The Thin Blue Line," "By Hook or by Crook"
2017 MacGyver Cassandra Glover "Packing Peanuts + Fire", "CD-ROM + Hoagie Foil", "War Room + Ship"
2018 Murder Capt. Lili Alvarez TV film, pre-production

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Today's Birthdays". Harrisburg Daily Register. Harrisburg, Illinois. November 2, 2015. p. 4A.
  2. ^ "Biographies: Lauren Vélez". Fandango.
  3. ^ "Lauren Vélez". New Show on TV.
  4. ^ a b "Bio Lauren Vélez". Yahoo! Movies.
  5. ^ "Biography: Lauren Vélez". AOL Television.
  6. ^ "Dexter: Lauren Vélez". Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-12-13.

External links[edit]