After a short string of small roles in even smaller films, actress Lana Parrilla got her first big break in 2000 when she was hired as a regular on the ABC sitcom Spin City. While the gig only lasted one season, it was just the beginning of Parrilla's small-screen career, with a main-cast role on the short-lived cop drama Boomtown following in 2002. In 2005, Parrilla joined the cast of Fox's 24 for a supporting arc as a counter-terrorism agent that lasted for half of the fourth season. The following year, she starred opposite Luke Perry on NBC's Windfall, but the show was cut short after less than a season. In 2007, she was again cast as a series lead, this time on the CBS ensemble drama Swingtown. An ambitious period drama that examined the swinger culture of the 1970s, the series failed to become a hit for CBS. But that didn't slow Parrilla down, and following a prominant role in yet another failed series Miami Medical, the buoyant actress essayed a number of television guest roles. In 2012, however, Parrilla seemed to finally find a role she could sink her teeth into -- that of the villainous Regina Mills in the dark, fairy tale-themed ABC fantasy/drama Once Upon a Time.
Biography by Matthew Tobey
- Heritage is a mix of Puerto Rican and Italian.
- Wanted to pursue acting after spending time with her actress aunt Candice Azzara.
- As a kid, made short movies with her family's video camera, such as Attack of the Killer Handkerchief.
- Studied acting at the Beverly Hills Playhouse.
- Big break came in 2001 when cast as a deputy mayor assistant on Spin City opposite Charlie Sheen.
- Played a paramedic on the critically-lauded Boomtown and received a 2003 Imagen Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her role.
- Helped the victims of the tsunami in Sri Lanka by starting an art and sports program for refugee-camp children.
- Continued her TV career with roles on Windfall (2006), Swingtown (2008) and Miami Medical (2010), each of which lasted only a season.