Luna Lauren Velez is an American actress. Born in Brooklyn, NY, she actually grew up in Queens, along with her eight brothers and sisters. She wanted to become an actress, something she learned early on in the second grade when she played the part of a groundhog. Her dreams began transitioning into reality when she was awarded a scholarship, sending her to the Alvin Ailey Dance School. This led to her first acting job in the musical “Dreamgirls”, which she performed with a national touring company. Velez then continued refining her acting skills by studying at The Acting Studio where she learned Shakespeare under the tutelage of Michael Howard.
Her professional career began when she became Phylicia Rashad’s understudy in “Into the Woods” which played on Broadway. The role for which she is most known for is that of “Nina Moreno”, which was her character on New York Undercover, a cop drama. Furthermore, with her variety of performances and her Afro-Latina appearance and background, her success is considered to be a breakthrough for Latinas not fitting the stereotypical version of Hollywood’s Latina women. As a result, both critics and fans alike have joined to give her a huge multi-ethic following. For those who wish to learn more about this Latina actress, here’s five things you didn’t know about Luna Lauren Velez.
1. Identical Twin
Velez has an identical twin sister who’s name is Lorraine. Lorraine often fills in as a double for Velez on sets. In fact, her sister has taken over Broadway roles for her. Lorraine is actually currently starring in RENT on the West End Stage in London.
Her first award was given for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 1994 for her role in the cop drama series New York Undercover. In addition, she has had eight ALMA Award nominations, winning one for her role in the HBO series Oz as Gloria Nathan. Velez also won Best Actress in 2007, a Vision Award for her role in Dexter. For New York Undercover, she received a NCLR Bravo Award, and she received a nomination for her role in City Hall which starred Al Pacino. In addition, she was also recognized with an Independent Spirit Award nomination for her part in I Like It Like That.
3. Dual Starring
She is one of only three actors who starred in both television series Oz and Dexter. Erik King and David Zayas are the other two.
4. One Woman Show
Velez starred in and produced her one woman show while on a hiatus during filming of Dexter. The one woman show premiered in Miami at the historic Colony Theater where she played the part of “La Lupe”, Victoria Gaudalupe Yoli, Cuba’s national treasure who as an artistic renegade, was banished from Cuba. She later became the lead singer in New York City in the band of Tito Puente. About “La Lupe”, Velez says that it’s her passion project. She’s raising money with which to turn the one woman show into a film. She says the Cuban singer was the first woman on the NY salsa scene and as such, is the Queen of Latin Soul.
She says that although she doesn’t have any children of her own, that she does have seventeen nephews and nieces who make up for it. She also says she has a stepdaughter who she adores to pieces. However, she is considering adopting due to the fact that there are so many children at all different ages and stages in their lives who need families.