Saundra Santiago

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Saundra Santiago
Born (1957-04-13) April 13, 1957 (age 64)
EducationUniversity of Miami (BA)
Southern Methodist University (MFA)
Years active1979–present
Roger Squitero
(m. 1999)

Saundra Santiago (born April 13, 1957) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Det. Gina Calabrese in the NBC crime drama series Miami Vice (1984–1989). She also played Carmen Santos on the CBS soap opera Guiding Light and the second Carlotta Vega on the ABC soap opera One Life to Live.

Early life[edit]

Santiago is the daughter of a Cuban father and a Puerto Rican mother. Raised in the South Bronx, New York City, she attended Our Lady of Victory Grammar School. When she was 13 years old, her family moved to Homestead, Florida.[1]

Santiago graduated from South Dade Senior High School and attended the University of Miami on a scholarship, majoring in psychology. As a University of Miami student, she became interested in acting. After graduation, she went on to post-graduate study in theater and arts at Southern Methodist University, eventually earning a Master of Fine Arts degree.[1] Santiago joined the company of regional summer stock theater, Timber Lake Playhouse, Mount Carroll, Illinois, performing many roles including Maria in West Side Story in the 1980 season.[2]


In 1984, Santiago made her big screen debut appearing in the dance drama film Beat Street,[3] and later that year began starring in the NBC crime drama series Miami Vice playing the role of Detective Gina Calabrese opposite Don Johnson.[4] The series ran for five seasons to 1989. In 1990s, Santiago appeared in a number of made for television movies, including The Cosby Mysteries (1994) and To Sir, with Love II (1996) opposite Sidney Poitier.[5]

In 1999, Santiago joined the cast of long-running CBS soap opera Guiding Light playing crime boss Carmen Santos.[6] She received Daytime Emmy Award nomination for America's Favorite Villain in 2002.[7] She left the soap after three years. She appeared simultaneously in a recurring role on The Sopranos as Tony Soprano's next door neighbor, Jeannie Cusamano, and as her twin sister, Joan from 1999 to 2007.[8] Additionally, on television, Santiago guest-starred on Law & Order in the 1992 episode "Prince of Darkness" (episode 3.8) and in the 2004 episode "Veteran's Day" (episode 14.15).

In 2004, Santiago joined the cast ABC soap opera One Life to Live in the role of Isabella Santi/Angelina Parades after leaving Guiding Light.[9] In 2007, she had a recurring role in the first season of FX legal thriller Damages. In 2009, she returned to One Life to Live again, this time taking over the role of Carlotta Vega from Patricia Mauceri.[10] She remained with the show until it ended in 2011. In 2014, she returned to prime time television playing the role of Marciela Acosta, the wife of gang leader Javier Acosta, in the short-lived Fox drama series Gang Related.[11] Santiago also guest-starred on Person of Interest, True Detective, Gotham, Blue Bloods,[12] and Madam Secretary.[13]

Personal life[edit]

Santiago met jazz musician Roger Squitero in 1994 whom she married in 1999.[14]



Year Title Role Notes
1981 The End of August Mariequita
1984 Beat Street Carmen Cararro
1993 With Hostile Intent Sgt. Lucille Preston TV Movie
Carlito's Way Club Patron Dancing with Carlito
1994 The Cosby Mysteries Amy Flusser TV Movie
1995 Deadline for Murder: From the Files of Edna Buchanan Rosinha Zulueta TV Movie
1996 To Sir, with Love II Louisa Rodgriguez TV Movie
1997 Nick and Jane Stephanie
1998 Hi-Life Elena
2002 Garmento Franca Fortuna
2006 The Promise Lourdes Short
2009 Bruja Lorraine Short
2013 Meddling Mom Valeria TV Movie
The House That Jack Built Martha
2021 Sand Dollar Cove Anna Walters TV Movie


Year Title Role Notes
1979 ¿Qué Pasa, USA? Lisa Episode: "Patria and Company"
1984–89 Miami Vice Detective Gina Calabrese Main Cast
1992 ABC Afterschool Special Jean Hodge Episode: "Summer Stories: The Mall - Part 3"
Law & Order Sandra Alvaro Episode: "Prince of Darkness"
1995 New York Undercover Juanita Episode: "The Shooter"
1999–02 Guiding Light Carmen Santos 25 episodes
ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama (2001)
Nominated—ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama (2000, 2002)
Nominated—Daytime Emmy Award for America's Favorite Villain (2002)
1999-07 The Sopranos Jean & Joan Cusamano 5 episodes
2004 Law & Order Mariela Silva Episode: "Veteran's Day"
2007 Damages Karen Gonzales Recurring Cast, Season 1
2008 Cashmere Mafia Dr. Jane Episode: "Yours, Mine and Hers"
2009 The Unusuals Melanie Trumble Episode: "Crime Slut"
2009–11 One Life to Live Carlotta Vega 13 episodes
2011 Person of Interest Patti D'Agostino Episode: "Witness"
2014 Gang Related Marciela Acosta Recurring Cast
2015 The Following Mrs. Miller Episode: "New Blood"
True Detective Irma Episode: "Other Lives"
Gotham Janice Caulfield Episode: "Rise of the Villains: Strike Force"
2016 Blue Bloods Carmen Baez Episode: "Stomping Grounds"
2017 Snowfall Mariela Episode: "The Rubicon"
Madam Secretary Margarita Garcia Episode: "Women Transform the World"
2020 Hightown Beatriz Episode: "B.F.O."


  1. ^ a b Robertson, Nan (March 11, 1983). "NEW FACE: SAUNDRA SANTIAGO; ONE ACTRESS'S VIEW FROM THE BRIDGE". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  2. ^ Pidde, Samantha (June 8, 2016). "Actress enjoys return to TLP". Carroll County Mirror-Democrat. Retrieved June 8, 2016.
  3. ^ Canby, Vincent (June 8, 1984). "MOVIE: 'BEAT STREET'". The New York Times. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  4. ^ Aitchison, Diana (October 14, 1988). "'MIAMI VICE' STAR WARMS UP FOR ROLE IN MUSICAL". Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  5. ^ McCarthy, John P. (April 3, 1996). "Cbs Sunday Movie to Sir with Love II". Variety. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  6. ^ Goldstein, Toby (December 8, 2002). "'AMC' FINDS A LUCKY PENNY". Orlando Sentinel. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  7. ^ "Saundra Santiago". IMDb.
  8. ^ "MANIPULATION Begins Previews Tonight at Cherry Lane". BroadwayWorld. June 21, 2011. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  9. ^ Gore, Scotty (July 20, 2009). "Saundra Santiago Discusses 'Life' as Carlotta Vega". Soap Opera Network. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  10. ^ "One Life to Live: Patricia Mauceri Out, Saundra Santiago In!". June 29, 2009. Retrieved June 29, 2009.
  11. ^ Goldberg, Lesley (September 20, 2013). "Fox's 'Gang Related' Recasts Role With 'Miami Vice' Grad (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  12. ^ Tecson, Karla (January 22, 2016). "'Blue Bloods' season 6 spoilers: 'Stomping Grounds' centres on two complicated murder cases". International Business Times. Retrieved January 22, 2016.
  13. ^ Santiago, Saundra (March 16, 2012). "The Blog: A Working Actor's Life". The Huffington Post. Retrieved March 5, 2014.
  14. ^ Rivas, Aby (March 10, 2020). "'Miami Vice' Star Saundra Santiago Looks Age-defying at 62 and Has Been Married for 20 Years". Retrieved March 10, 2020.

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