- 10:05 AM, Aug 22
The "Spanish Enchantress" definitely is an appropriate term to be addressed to Penelope Cruz Sanchez. Mesmerizing, talented and strong willed, she has made her way to be one of the most prominent Latin actresses in Hollywood film industry. Born on April 28, 1974 in Madrid, Spain, her parents, Eduardo Cruz and Encarna Sanchez, named her based on Joan Manuel Serrat's song. Growing up in Alcobendas together with her younger siblings, Monica and Eduardo Cruz Jr., little Penelope developed a fondness for performing at a very young age, especially for ballet and jazz dance. Overwhelmed with this passion, she spent nine years to study classical ballet at Spain's National Conservatory in Madrid while also learned Spanish ballet under the guidance of Angela Garrido for three years. Wanting for more, she took a period of jazz dance lessons with Raul Caballero as well as four-years dance courses with Cristina Rota in New York City.
Her transition to acting began when she defeated more than 300 other girls in a talent agency audition at the age of 15. This initial success resulted in her decision to quit her study at a secondary school. The contract she obtained led her to appear in commercials and Spanish TV shows, including that of "La Quinta Marcha" in which she started to gain people's attention as the program's host in 1990. Turning her attention to acting, she made her debut in the following year through "El Laberinto Griego" (The Greek Labyrinth), which was delayed to be released until the year of 1993. However, it was her appearance in Mecano's music video of "La fuerza del destino" (1992) that she finally was able to embrace national fame. After starring in "Jamon, Jamon" (1992) and "Framed" (1992), she took part in "Belle Epoque" in the same year and to her surprise, it turned out to be a massive hit in Spain, collecting nine Goya Awards, the Spanish equivalent of the Oscar while eventually winning the category of Foreign Language Film at Academy Awards.
The glorious attainment of "Belle Epoque" unquestionably brought Penelope's name to the international recognition while opened a wider path for her career. Throughout the year 1993 to 1996, she performed in three or four films a year, proving that she had risen to be a substantial actress in her country. 1997 was a great period for her as "Abre los ojos" (Open Your Eyes) became box