28 april, 1974
Penélope Cruz Sánchez (Spanish pronunciation: [peˈnelope kruθ ˈsantʃeθ]; born April 28, 1974) is a Spanish actress and model. Signed by an agent at age 15, she made her acting debut at 16 on television and her feature film debut the following year in Jamón, jamón (1992), to critical acclaim. Her subsequent roles in the 1990s and 2000s included Open Your Eyes (1997), The Hi-Lo Country (1999), The Girl of Your Dreams (2000) and Woman on Top (2000). Cruz achieved recognition for her lead roles in the 2001 films Vanilla Sky, All the Pretty Horses, Captain Corelli's Mandolin and Blow.
She has since built a successful career, appearing in films from a range of genres, including the comedy Waking Up in Reno (2002), the thriller Gothika (2003), the Christmas movie Noel (2004), and the action adventure Sahara (2005). She has received critical acclaim for her roles in Volver (2006) and Nine (2009) receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for each. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award and the first Spanish actress to receive a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Cruz has modeled for companies such as Mango, Ralph Lauren and L'Oréal. Penélope and her younger sister Mónica Cruz have designed items for Mango. She has donated both her time and money to charities. Cruz has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent one week working for Mother Teresa; she donated her salary from The Hi-Lo Country to help fund the late nun's mission. A wax sculpture of Cruz will be placed in a premier spot in the Grevin Wax Museum in Paris.
Penélope Cruz Sánchez was born in Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain, the daughter of Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser and personal manager, and Eduardo Cruz, a retailer and auto mechanic. She was raised Roman Catholic. Throughout her childhood, Cruz lived in Alcobendas, a working-class town, although she spent "a lot" of time at her grandmother's apartment. Cruz is the oldest of three siblings; she has a younger brother, Eduardo, who is a singer, and a younger sister, Mónica, who is an actress. She has said that she had a happy childhood, and Charlie Rose of 60 Minutes described Cruz's childhood as a "simple life". In a foreshadowing way, Cruz remembers when she was four years old, "playing with some friends and being aware that I was acting as I was playing with them—I would think of a character and pretend to be someone else."
Initially, Cruz had no ambition to be an actress and focused on dance, having studied classical ballet for nine years at Spain's National Conservatory. She received three years of Spanish ballet training and four years of theater at Cristina Rota's New York school. She commented that "I used to take my toenails—they would die from dancing—so I would just take the whole toenail and throw it away, and not feel anything", however, ballet instilled in her discipline that would be important in her future acting career. She became a fan of movies at age 10 or 11. With no movie theaters nearby, her first relationship with cinema was watching movies on Betamax. Her father bought this "[Betamax] machine", of which Cruz recalls that it was very rare to own one in her neighborhood at the time.
When Cruz was a teenager, she began having an interest in acting after seeing the film Tie Me Up! Tie Me Down! by Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. She began doing casting calls for an agent, but was rejected multiple times because the agent felt that she was too young. Cruz commented on the experience that "I was very extroverted as a kid. I was studying when I was in high school at night, I was in ballet and I was doing castings. I looked for an agent and she sent me away three times because I was a little girl but I kept coming back. I'm still with her after all these years." In 1989, at the age of 15, Cruz won an audition at a talent agency over more than 300 other girls. In 1999, Katrina Bayonas, Cruz's agent, commented, "She was absolutely magic . It was obvious there was something very impressive about this kid. She was very green, but there was a presence. There was just something coming from within."