Six Feet Under Vanessa
Puerto Rican descendant actress Justina Machado has honed her craft with the Latino Chicago Theater Company since her school days before breaking into television in the mid 1990s and garnered recognition for her recurring role as Vanessa Diaz, a registered nurse, wife and high school sweetheart of Federico (played by Freddy Rodriguez), in the HBO critically-acclaimed drama series "Six Feet Under" (2001-2005), which won her a Screen Actors Guild Award.
Meanwhile, she played Raquel DeLaRosa (1997) in UPN short-lived sitcom "Goode Behavior" and starred as FBI Agent Sunny Estrada during the first season (2003-2004) of Lifetime mystery drama series "1-800-Missing." She also has guest starred in such popular TV shows as "NYPD Blue," "ER," "Touched by an Angel," "Malcolm & Eddie," "Angel," "Strong Medicine," "Ghost Whisperer," "Grey's Anatomy," and "Ugly Betty."
On the big screen, the 5' 2" player could be seen in the films "She's So Lovely" (1997), "Artificial Intelligence: AI" (2001), "Final Destination 2" (2003), "Torque" (2004), and "Little Fugitive" (2006). She will next be seen in the upcoming films "The Accidental Husband," opposite Uma Thurman and Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and "In the Electric Mist," alongside Tommy Lee Jones, Mary Steenburgen and Alana Locke.
Machado also performed regularly on stage, most notably in the productions of ''Blade to the Heat'' (1997) and ''Black Butterfly'' (2000) at Los Angeles' famed Mark Taper Forum. Additionally, she played Anna Maria in the Arne Gilmcher production of ''The Mambo Kings'' at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco, California (May-June 2005), and at the Broadway Theatre, New York, New York (July 2005).
Puerto Rico Descendant
Childhood and Family:
The eldest of five children in a Puerto Rican family, Justina Machado was born in the windy city of Chicago, Illinois, on September 6, 1972. In 1986, she attended Lane Technical College Prep High School ("Lane Tech"), Chicago, Illinois. During her free time, Machado, who was very active in drama and always participating in her school plays, performed with the Latino Chicago Theater Company. She finished high school in 1990 and directly headed for New York City to pursue an acting career.
Machado currently lives in Los Angeles, and in her rare spare moments, she enjoys reading and singing.
Having performed in various stage productions at the Latino Chicago Theater Company since her school days, Justina Machado quickly started her thespian career upon her arrival in the Big Apple. Soon afterwards, she was offered her earliest professional job in Los Angeles, in "Love Hurts" (1993), a part of the ABC Afterschool Specials. She followed it up with a string of guest roles in various TV shows include ABC Emmy-winning, long-running cop drama "NYPD Blue," ABC drama "Second Noah," CBS police drama "Moloney," the short-lived sitcom "Arsenio," and NBC popular medical drama "ER." She also appeared in the fact-based made-for-television movie "No One Would Tell" (1996), starring Candace Cameron Bure.
In 1997, Machado joined the cast of UPN short-lived sitcom "Goode Behavior," alongside Sherman Hemsley, Dorien Wilson, Alex Datcher and Bianca Lawson. That same year, she also landed her first feature film role, as Carmen Rodriguez the lady ticket taker, in Nick Cassavetes' romantic fable "She's So Lovely," starring Sean Penn, Robin Wright Penn and John Travolta. Additionally, she played Sarita at Los Angeles’ renowned Mark Taper Forum in a production of ''Blade to the Heat.''
The subsequent year saw Machado in her second film, "The Week That Girl Died" (1998), an independent drama/comedy by Sean Travis in which she co-starred as Marita, a stripper who became the object of Robert Longstreet's peep show. Meanwhile, she appeared in two episodes of UPN sitcom "Malcolm & Eddie" and in an episode of "The Gregory Hines Show," Lifetime hit drama series "Any Day Now," and CBS drama "Touched by an Angel."
Machado wrapped the decade by guest starring in an episode of CBS Emmy-winning family drama "Promised Land," CBS sci-fi drama "Early Edition," and Lifetime sitcom "Oh Baby." She also made her third film, "Swallows" (1999), a romantic comedy directed by Harvey Marks and stars Mark Kiely.
Entering the new millennium, Machado played the title role of a lonely woman living in a hostile Chicago barrio and dreams of escaping to a better life by the sea, in Ed Italo's 41-minute touching film, "Following Paula." She was also spotted as a guest in the WB supernatural action/adventure/drama series "Angel" and returned to the Mark Taper Forum as the central figure Raquel in a production of "Black Butterfly."
Afterwards, Machado snagged her most popular role to date, as Vanessa Diaz, a registered nurse, wife and high school sweetheart of Federico (played by Freddy Rodriguez), in the HBO critically-acclaimed drama series, "Six Feet Under." She stayed in the show during its four-year run (2001-2005) and has won a Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series. She was also nominated an ALMA Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Television Series and an Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actress – Television twice.
During her "Six Feet Under" stint, Machado continued working for films, in Brett Mayer's independent off-beat noir comedy "Sticks" (2001), playing Keith Brunsmann's Cuban girl friend who is active within an anti-Castro movement, Steven Spielberg's Oscar-nominated sci-fi movie "Artificial Intelligence: AI" (2001; starring Haley Joel Osment and Jude Law), playing a small role as an assistant, and Tom Shadyac's fantasy drama "Dragonfly" (2002; starring Kevin Costner), playing an oncology desk nurse. She was also cast as Mary McCormack's friend in Steven Soderbergh's low-budget film within a film, "Full Frontal" (2002; with David Duchovny, Catherine Keener and Julia Roberts), as Isabella Hudson, a pregnant woman who was on the highway during the pile-up, in David R. Ellis' horror "Final Destination 2" (2003; starring Ali Larter and A. J. Cook,), and as FBI Agent Henderson in Joseph Kahn's action/thriller "Torque" (2004; starring Martin Henderson, Ice Cube and Monet Mazur). Additionally, she starred as FBI Agent Sunny Estrada during the first season (2003-2004) of Lifetime mystery drama series "1-800-Missing" and appeared as a maid and waitress in the music video for TLC's song "Damaged" (2003).
After "Six Feet Under" ended in 2005, Machado returned to stage to play Anna Maria in the Arne Gilmcher production of ''The Mambo Kings'' at the Golden Gate Theatre in San Francisco, California (May-June 2005) and at the Broadway Theatre, New York, New York (July 2005). Back on screen, she portrayed the title character's mother in Joanna Lipper's remake of the 1953 classic film, "Little Fugitive" (2006; starring Nicolas Martí Salgado and David Castro), and co-starred with Phillip Vaden and Sara Rue in Chris Lusvardi's comedy movie "Man Maid" (2007). Meanwhile, TV viewers could catch her in the un-picked TV series pilot "Alpha Mom" (2006) and the ABC drama/thriller movie "Fatal Contact: Bird Flu in America" (2006). She also guest starred in an episode of CBS supernatural drama/thriller "Ghost Whisperer," ABC critically-acclaimed medical drama "Grey's Anatomy" and CBS cop drama "Cold Case," as well as in two episodes of ABC Golden Globe and Emmy Award-winning drama/comedy series "Ugly Betty," in which she played cousin Clara.
Machado has completed her upcoming film, "The Accidental Husband," a romantic comedy by Griffin Dunne in which she plays Uma Thurman's talk radio program listener who follows her advice to dump her boyfriend (played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan). She will soon wrap another film, "In the Electric Mist," Bertrand Tavernier's adaptation of James Lee Burke's novel starring Tommy Lee Jones, Mary Steenburgen and Alana Locke.
Screen Actors Guild: Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, "Six Feet Under," 2004