Paz Vega's stage name comes from her grandmother. After attending a performance
of Federico García Lorca's La casa de Bernarda Alba at the age of 15 she was
convinced that she wanted to become an actress. After completing compulsory
education at 16 she was accepted at the prestigious Centro Andaluz de Teatro
stage school. After two years at the stage school and two more years studying
media studies, Paz moved to the Spanish capital hoping for a lucky break into
the acting world.
Paz Vega made her television debut in the Spanish TV series Menudo es mi padre, which starred pint-sized rhumba singer El Fary. After appearing in two other series in 1997 — Mas que amigos and teen drama Compañeros — she went on to grace the silver screen in 1999 in Zapping. The same year she also had a minor role in the David Menkes movie "I Will Survive" (Sobreviviré) alongside Emma Suarez, Juan Diego Botto and a cameo from Boy George.
Yet it was with the series 7 vidas (also in 1999) that Paz's real big break came. The series was billed as a Spanish "Friends" and went on to become one of the country's best-loved domestic sitcoms. Paz played Laura, a perky Andalucian girl who had come to stay in the flat of David, who had recently come out of a coma. The series is still running on Telecinco to this day (2004), albeit without Paz Vega.
After seeing Vega on 7 vidas, film maker Mateo Gil was so taken with her that he gave her a substantial role in his film Nadie conoce a nadie, scripted and soundtracked by Alejandro Amenábar (who was later to be instrumental in the transatlantic "success" of Penélope Cruz and successful internationally in his own right as director of The Others).
The next Spanish film maker to be captivated by Paz Vega was Julio Medem. Paz was chosen to play the title role in his "provocatively sensual" project S-- and Lucia (Lucía y el s--o), the story of a naïve young girl gradually coming to terms with her own s--uality with a hedonistic writer on a remote island. In order to concentrate on the role, Paz had to leave 7 vidas. The film, an erotically charged piece of work, soon became an international success, winning Vega a Goya (Spain's answer to an Oscar) for Best Female Newcomer.
With a Goya under her belt, Paz was now certainly destined for greater things. In 2001 she appeared alongside Sergi López as a battered wife in the brutal Solo mía and in 2002 no less than Pedro Almodovar, gave her a part in his film "Talk to Her" (Hable con ella). The film also starred her 7 vidas co-star Javier Cámara and went on to win an Oscar for Best Screenplay, almost unheard of for a foreign-language film. Soon after, she could be seen in the musical romantic s-- comedy, The Other Side of the Bed (El otro lado de la cama, 2002).
In 2003 Paz Vega played the feisty Andalucian cigarette-girl Carmen in Vicente Aranda's film of the same name, alongside Argentina's Leonardo Sbaraglia. As was Bizet's famous opera, the film was based on Prosper Merimée's 1845 novella of passion and jealousy.
In December 2004 Paz Vega made her Hollywood debut - as a Mexican housekeeper - alongside Adam Sandler in the romantic comedy Spanglish.
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