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Elizabeth Peña


“There are a lot of jobs I’ve turned down because they wanted me to play what I call ‘Miss Cuchifrito’ types.” [on her refusal to portray Latin stereotypes]



Her love for the arts came naturally as her father was a well-known playwright, actor, director and novelist, so its not hard to understand that by the time she was eight, Cuban-American Elizabeth Pena already had designs to become an actress. Born in New Jersey and raised in New York, her parents, who opened off-Broadway’s Latin American Theatre Ensemble, were more than encouraging. Elizabeth attended NY’s High School of the Performing Arts and found occasional work in repertory theatre and in television commercials. Her film debut in the independent Spanish-speaking feature El Super (1979) started her on a long line of feisty, rebellious characters that showed plenty of attitude. During the early 80s she played everything from a knife-threatening waitress to a disco queen as she waited for her big break. That big break came in the form of the hugely successful comedy film Down and Out in Beverly Hills (1986) co-starring Bette Midler, Richard Dreyfuss and Nick Nolte, in which she stole… read more


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