Vélez at 2013 Comic-Con International
Luna Lauren Vélez
November 2, 1964
Brooklyn, New York, U.S.
|Relatives||Lorraine 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.
Early life and education
Lauren's parents moved from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s and lived in Brooklyn, a borough of New York City, where she and her twin sister, Loraine Vélez, were born. The twins have five other sisters and one brother. Lauren's father, a New York City Police Department officer, eventually bought a house in Far Rockaway, Queens, and moved the family there. The twins enjoyed setting up improvised plays and acting for the family, and they participated in nearly all their high school productions, such as, Fiddler on the Roof. After graduating from high school, they each received scholarships to attend the Alvin Ailey Dance School. They both went on to study acting at the Acting Studio with its founding artistic director James Price, the protégé and personal friend of Sanford Meisner. In addition, 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, and she 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. 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. 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, Vélez starred in Buscando un Sueño (English: In Search of a Dream), the first Spanish language film sanctioned by SAG. Vélez again played a police lieutenant, in a supporting role on Showtime's series Dexter.
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.
|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||Son of Shaft||Bennie||Post-production|
|2019||Widows on the World||Eva||Post-production|
|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||Blue Bloods||Special Agent Veronica Molina||"The Thin Blue Line"|
|2017||MacGyver||Cassandra Glover||"Packing Peanuts + Fire", "CD-ROM + Hoagie Foil", "War Room + Ship"|
|2018||Murder||Capt. Lili Alvarez||TV film, pre-production|
- "Today's Birthdays". Harrisburg Daily Register. Harrisburg, Illinois. November 2, 2015. p. 4A.
- "Biographies: Lauren Vélez". Fandango.
- "Lauren Vélez". New Show on TV.
- "Bio Lauren Vélez". Yahoo! Movies.
- "Biography: Lauren Vélez". AOL Television.
- "Dexter: Lauren Vélez". DexterWiki.sho.com. Archived from the original on 2010-05-27. Retrieved 2010-12-13.