Colombian-born, Spanish Harlem-reared actress Paula Garcés cemented her position as a Latina actress with her ALMA-nominated portrayal of Officer Tina Hanlon on the FX popular, but now defunct, crime series “The Shield,” a role she played from 2006 to 2008. First known as a soap opera star thanks to her work on CBS' “The Guiding Light” (1999-2001), she continued to enjoy success on the big screen with work in Jonathan Frakes' “Clockstoppers” (2002), the John Cho/Kal Penn-headlined “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004) and Josh Evans' “Che Guevara” (2005) before landing her acclaimed role on “The Shield.” Garcés has also guest starred on the series “Law & Order,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Oz,” “The Sopranos,” “CSI: Miami” and “Knight Rider,” among others. Her film credits include “Life with Mikey” (1993), “Dangerous Minds” (1995), “Harvest” (1998), “Marci X” (2003), “Man of the House” (2005), “Pledge This” (2006), the animated “Red Princess Blues Animated: The Book of Violence” (2007, also an executive producer) and “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” (2008). She is set to play roles in the upcoming films “Gitmo” (2009) and “Flights of Fancy” (2010).
Garcés was named one of Maxim Magazine's “Hot 100 of 2002.”
Childhood and Family:
The daughter of a fisherman and a school teacher, Paula Garcés was born on March 20, 1974, in Medellin, Colombia. Her family moved to the United States when she was four years old and lived in Spanish Harlem, New York. Paula has a sister named Vanessa.
Paula married Antonio Hernandez in 2002. The couple owns a cafe in New York City named From Earth to You Cafe.
Harold & Kumar
Prior to becoming an actress, Paula Garcés pursued a career in kickboxing and once worked as a personal trainer in New York City. At age 15, she landed work in a commercial. When she was 17 years old, Garcés made her series TV acting debut in a guest spot on “Law & Order.” She soon moved on to film with the small role of Jackie Newton in the Sundance-premiered “Hangin' with the Homeboys” (also 1991), which was directed by Joseph Vasquez and starred Doug E. Doug, Mario Joyner, John Leguizamo and Nestor Serrano.
Garcés made her sophomore big screen outing with the James Lapine-directed comedy “Life with Mikey” (1993), starring Michael J. Fox. Two years later, she resurfaced as Alvina in the urban drama “Dangerous Minds,” which was adapted from LouAnne Johnson's autobiography “My Posse Don't Do Homework.” The film was helmed by Jerry Bruckheimer and starred Michelle Pfeiffer. She next played Mina Fuentes in the independent film “Harvest” (1998), opposite James Van Der Beek and Mary McCormack. On the small screen, she made a guest appearance in “New York Undercover” (1994) before securing a two episodic role in the Tom Fontana-created drama “Oz” (1999), playing Isabella. However, Garcés did not have her first real taste of fame until she got the role of Pilar Santos on the CBS soap opera “The Guiding Light.” She was on the show from 1999 to 2001.
After “The Guiding Light,” Garcés starred with Jesse Bradford, French Stewart and Michael Biehn in the teen sci-fi adventure “Clockstoppers” (2002), which was directed by Jonathan Frakes. More film assignments ensued after the Paramount-distributed picture. She was next featured in Thomas McCarthy's “The Station Agent” (2003, starred Peter Dinklage, Patricia Clarkson, Bobby Cannavale and Michelle Williams), supported Lisa Kudrow, Damon Wayans and Andrew Keenan-Bolger in Richard Benjamin's hip-hop comedy “Marci X” (2003), appeared with Ruben Blades, Stanley Tucci, Dana Delany and Ryan Merriman in “Spin” (2003), from first timer James Redford, and portrayed Maria in the cult hit “Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle” (2004). By this time, she had also added “The Brothers Garcia” and “The Sopranos” to her list of TV guest spots.
In 2005, Garcés delivered a noted supporting turn as Aleida in Josh Evans' “Che Guevara,” a film about the Argentine Marxist revolutionary, author, politician, physician, military theorist, and guerrilla leader. The same year, she also costarred with Tommy Lee Jones, Cedric the Entertainer and Christina Milian in “Man of the House” (directed by Stephen Herek), and with Izabella Miko, Lesley Ann Warren and Ben Gazzar in “The Shore.” She then received the recurring role of Millie Vizcarrondo in four episodes of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.”
Garcés was bought back to the TV spotlight the following year when she began her role of Officer Tina Hanlon on the hit FX drama “The Shield,” a role she kept until the show's finale in 2008. For her good acting job, she was nominated for a 2008 ALMA in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Television Series. Garcés also offered a memorable portrayal of Gloria Torrez on the Paris Hilton starring vehicle “Pledge This!” (2006), jointly helmed by William Heins and Strathford Hamilton, played Anna Sivarro on two episodes of “CSI: Miami” (2007), and provided the voice of Princess in the animated film “Red Princess Blues Animated: The Book of Violence” (2007), in which she also served as executive producer. She then reprised her role of Maria for the film “Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay” and the direct-to-video “Harold & Kumar Go to Amsterdam” (both 2008). She then appeared as Kelli Haddigan in a 2008 episode of “Knight Rider.”
A year after “The Shield” departed the airwaves, Garcés portrayed Paula Morales on the science fiction series “Defying Gravity,” which aired in Canada on CTV and the U.K. on BBC. She will star as Belicia in the upcoming drama “Gitmo” (2009), for director/writer Daniel Wilson. In addition, she will work with Maria Conchita Alonso, Lacey Chabert, Laura Cerón and Paola Turbay in “Flights of Fancy,” a drama penned by Diana Lezmez. The film is slated for a 2010 release.