A distinguished Irish actress whose unique look and presence instantly revealed her ethnic origins, redhead performer Geraldine Hughes began life in West Belfast in 1970 and grew up in a working-class family in the city's Divis Flats. Hughes experienced her first brush with show business after penning a one-woman stage show, Belfast Blues, where she distilled many of her coming-of-age experiences into two hours. Via the magic of costume changes, she also unveiled her versatility by playing all of the 24 roles at hand. That noble accomplishment happened to catch the eye of a Hollywood casting agent, Sheila Jaffe, who recommended Hughes to Sylvester Stallone for a turn as Marie, Rocky Balboa's longtime friend and potential paramour, in Rocky Balboa (2006), the sixth installment of the Rocky film series; after watching Hughes' audition tape, Stallone instantly hired her. Though Balboa did not represent the thespian's premier stage assignment (prior to it, she had done guest work on the series ER and landed a bit part as a secretary in the 2003 Ben Stiller comedy Duplex), it afforded some of her broadest audience exposure to date, and as a follow-up she teamed with Clint Eastwood for a small role in the racially themed drama Gran Torino (2008).