Ugly Betty's Sister
Latina actress Ana Ortiz is familiar among TV viewers for her role of Hilda Suarez, the vivacious and somewhat vain older sister of America Ferrera's character Betty, on the critically acclaimed ABC comedy-drama series "Ugly Betty" (2006-Present). She also costarred with Kristin Chenoweth in "Kristin" (2001) and "A.U.S.A." (2003), and played recurring roles in "Over There" (2005) and "Boston Legal" (2006). She will next lend her voice to the upcoming animated film "Noah's Ark: The New Beginning."
This 5' 4½" sultry actress of Puerto-Rican and Irish descent has been married to musician Noah Lebenzon since 2007 and is expecting their first child at the end of July 2009.
Childhood and Family:
Daughter of Angel Ortiz, the first Latino elected to Philadelphia's City Council, and an Irish American mother, Ana Ortiz was born on January 25, 1971, in Manhattan, New York City, New York. She was raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, by her father and her stepmother, Lydia E. Hernandez-Velez. She has one brother named Angel Omar Ortiz, and one sister named Lydia Pilar Ortiz.
Originally dreaming of becoming a ballerina, Ana turned to singing and attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in New York City and later the University of the Arts in Philadelphia.
"I started ballet lessons when I was five years old and spent my childhood dreaming about becoming a ballerina. When I was in junior high school, I began singing and soon realized that it was a lot less painful than being on pointes." Ana Ortiz
At actress J.C. Brandy's birthday party, Ana met musician Noah Lebenzon, the guitarist for the rock group Everything is Energy. He proposed to her in August while she was doing her laundry and they were married on June 9, 2007, in Rincón, Puerto Rico. In January 2009, Ana announced she was expecting their first child, a girl, at the end of July 2009.
Ana once lived in Los Angeles, California, but recently moved to New York City. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, horseback riding, softball, water sports, and writes poetry. Ana is vegetarian.
“I changed my diet after I hit 30. I couldn't eat pizza at 1 in the morning.” Ana Ortiz
Ana, who has said that if she was not an actress she would work with kids, spent many summers as a camp counselor and her mother also worked as a group therapist for autistic children. She is also a supporter of the charity Eva's Heroes, which assists people with developmental disabilities, and is active in raising awareness against domestic abuse, citing her own experiences when she was in her 20s when she was involved in a romantic relationship that turned physically abusive.
Initially dreaming of becoming a ballerina, Ana Ortiz later switched to singing before eventually deciding to pursue a serious acting career. She made her professional stage debut as Cecile in a local theater production of "Dangerous Liaisons." She then appeared on stage in a European touring production of “Hair,” the regional theater productions of "Dog Lady and the Cuban Swimmer," and the South Coast Repertory Theater's production of "References to Salvador Dalí Make Me Hot."
The aspiring actress subsequently signed with the LAByrinth Theatre Company and appeared off-Broadway in 1999 in “In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings,” which was directed by Academy Award winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman. On screen the newcomer, who first appeared as an inmate in the 1995 prison drama film "Condition Red" (starring James Russo and Cynda Williams), made her television debut as a pregnant woman in “Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie” (1999; starring Jane Seymour).
Hitting the new millennium, Ortiz was cast in James Mathers' independent film "King of the Korner" (2000). The following year, she costarred with Tony-winner Kristin Chenoweth in the NBC mid-season replacement sitcom, "Kristin" (2001).
Ortiz was subsequently spotted as a guest in an episode of CBS’ Emmy Award-winning sitcom starring Ray Romano, "Everybody Loves Raymond," The WB sitcom "Greetings from Tucson," ABC’s drama "NYPD Blue," Lifetime’s medical drama "Strong Medicine," The WB television series "Do Over," the hit NBC medical drama "ER," FOX’s prime time soap opera "North Shore," ABC’s cop drama "Blind Justice," and ABC’s sitcom starring Freddie Prinze Jr., "Freddie," Ortiz also acted opposite Kelsey Grammer and Charles Durning in the ABC TV movie “Mr. Saint Nick” (2002) and costarred in the comedic TV movie "Life on Parole" (2003). She was then cast as Ana Rivera, a former cop with street experience and the sidekick of Scott Foley's character, in the short-lived NBC series “A.U.S.A” (2003), and had a recurring role as Anna in the FX series set in wartime Iraq, “Over There” (2005).
“The audition called for her to be married, pregnant, not living with the family and looking for a minivan. She was a completely, completely different character. I went in there sassy. I had these hot pink shoes on. This was how I saw Hilda. I wasn't going to go in there with a pregnant suit on, so I just did my thing and then it turned out that Hilda developed into a different character with the same essence of family, family, family. I can't get over how well this show is cast, from top to bottom. Everyone sits so well in their parts. It's so wonderful to be a part of it. We're all just flinging for the fences. The bar is raised so high by America [Ferrera].” Ana Ortiz (on her audition for “Ugly Betty”)
In 2006, Ortiz began portraying Hilda Suarez, the title role's vivacious and somewhat vain older sister, on the critically acclaimed ABC series starring America Ferrera, "Ugly Betty." Her work in the hit show won an ALMA Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie and an Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actress - Television, both in 2007. She was also nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series in 2007 and 2008 that she shared with her costars, which included Eric Mabius, Vanessa Williams, Ashley Jensen, and Becki Newton. On February 17, 2009, it was reported that the show has been picked up for a fourth season.
About the “Ugly Betty” Golden Globe for Outstanding Comedy win in 2007, Ortiz recalled, “The producers had a separate party aside from all of the regular parties. We had to be at work at 6:30 the next morning, so we went back to work right away. It was funny to see all of us on the set the next day completely dazed. Most of us had lost our voices from screaming so much. I think we're still relishing it, it's sort of coming in waves.”
Ortiz also said to the fans of “Ugly Betty.” “Thank you so much for proving that taking a risk with TV programming is worth it and that the heroine of a show doesn't have to be this cookie-cutter stick figure. The people have really proved to all of the executives that people are ready to be moved and touched and real and honest. Thank you because without people watching the show, we would be nowhere.”
During her "Ugly Betty" tenure, Ortiz also guest starred in an episode of ABC’s political drama series starring Geena Davis, "Commander in Chief," and had a recurring role as A.D.A. Holly Raines on the acclaimed ABC legal drama “Boston Legal.” She also costarred in the true story-based TV movie "Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story" (2008).
On the big screen, Ortiz could be seen in the independent comedy film written and directed by Judy Hecht Dumontet, “Tortilla Heaven” (2007), and in Marya Mazor's 15-minute short drama film "The Winged Man" (2008). She also lent her voice to character Detective Anna Ramirez in "Batman: Gotham Knight" (2008), an animated direct-to-DVD anthology film of six animated short films.
Ortiz will soon complete the filming of Bill Boyce and John Stronach's upcoming animated film "Noah's Ark: The New Beginning," which features an ensemble voice cast that includes Michael Keaton, Jason Lee, Jason Mewes, Rob Schneider, Ben Kingsley, Elliot Gould, and Nicollette Sheridan.
ALMA: Outstanding Supporting Actress - Television Series, Mini-Series or Television Movie, "Ugly Betty," 2007
Imagen: Best Supporting Actress - Television, "Ugly Betty," 2007