Paz Vega was born on January 2, 1976, in Seville, the Spanish town famous for Carmen and singing barbers. The slender and athletic Paz first dreamed of being a sports star and later took interest in politics. At age 15, all it took was a day at the theater to cement her ambitions; a performance of La Casa de Bernarda Alba set her sights on acting for good.
At 16, Paz left school and patiently waited for the prestigious Centro Andaluz de Teatro acting school to accept her. After two years at the acting school and another two studying journalism, Paz moved to Madrid, where she sought fame. She changed her name to Paz Vega (her grandmother’s last name) and worked in bars while auditioning for every acting job she could.
Paz’s first big jobs came on TV, where she appeared in three episodes of the Spanish series Menudo es mi padre, and in two other series, Mas que amigos and Companeros. In 1999, Paz got her first major movie role in Zapping, in which she played a hot sex loving vixen who snagged another woman’s husband. That same year, she had a minor part in Sobrevivire (I Will Survive), which got people noticing her.
Paz then returned to television with the career making role of Laura in the series, 7 vidas. It was this role that endeared her to all of Spain. Filmmaker Mateo Gil liked Paz so much that he gave her a major part in his movie Nadie conoce a nadie (Nobody Knows Anybody, 1999). As she juggled TV and movies, she quickly learned the inner workings of the film industry.
Movie director Julio Medem saw her potential and asked Vega to leave her TV role to dedicate herself to his new project. His film would be provocative, steamy and sensual, so he needed just the right actress. In 2001, Lucia y el sexo (Sex and Lucia) hit theaters. It told the story, in graphic and lurid detail, of an innocent girl who slowly discovers her sexuality. Paz appeared nude, acting with her whole body in a gush of sensuality. Sex and Lucia became an international hit and won Paz a Goya, Spain’s biggest movie award, for Best New Actress.
With the success of Sex and Lucia, Vega was courted by the biggest names in the film industry. Spain’s most important director, Pedro Almodovar, gave her a part in his award winning film Hable con ella (Talk to Her, 2002). Soon after, she was seen in the musical romantic comedy, El otro lado de la cama (The Other Side of the Bed, 2002).
After two more movies, including a rendition of Carmen in 2003, Paz started being coveted abroad. James L. Brooks, of The Simpsons and As Good as It Gets, signed her for his new directing project, a comedy called Spanglish, with Adam Sandler and Tea Leoni. This movie will no doubt raise her profile in the U.S. and she will hopefully be seen in more American movies. After Spanglish, Paz can be seen in 2005’s Un angel en la oscuridad in the pipeline.
Paz Vega currently lives in Madrid, Spian with husband Orson Salazar.