Actor Shiloh Fernandez's life mirrors the trajectory of many celebrities who arrived on top (and "in their niche") not via strategic planning, but via a series of random jobs and dead ends that eventually dropped them into the limelight. A native of Northern California, Fernandez parlayed his slightly rugged, all-American looks into an eminent career as a model in his mid-teens, posing in a series of semi-provocative print ads for American Apparel (taken by its founder, Dov Charney) that were visibly displayed in downtown Manhattan. The fame and exposure generated by this proved somewhat short-lived, however. Following high school, Fernandez enrolled in the University of Colorado at Boulder, then impulsively dropped out, moving to Los Angeles to live with his girlfriend at the time. Unfortunately, the two broke up before Fernandez even arrived, but Charney helped out on an economic end by offering the young upstart a job in an American Apparel stockroom. Fernandez felt grateful for the opportunity, but reportedly hated the job itself so much that he hearkened off for the greener pastures of acting.
Fernandez landed his first formal acting assignments as a guest star on episodes of the network series Cold Case and Jericho in 2006 and 2007, but truly came into his own as a star of low-medium budgeted independent films such as director Marc-Andre Samson's taut thriller Interstate (2006) (as a young man trying desperately to reach his girlfriend in Los Angeles, but waylaid by drugs and the trappings of an odd motel), and directors Lucky McKee and Trygve Diesen's violent psychological thriller Red (as a disturbed young man who plays the role of accomplice in killing a senior citizen's dog). Additional projects included the hotly anticipated Darnell Martin drama Cadillac Records (opposite Beyoncé Knowles and Adrien Brody) and the Diablo Cody-scripted television series The United States of Tara, culled from an idea by Steven Spielberg. In the following years, Fernandez would continue to appear on screen, most notably on shows like United States of Tera and Three Rivers.