Gina Torres was born in 1969 at Flower Fifth Ave. Hospital in Manhattan. Her family lived briefly in Washington Heights until moving to The Bronx. Her parents were natives of Cuba. Her father was a typesetter for both La Prensa and then the Daily News. Her mother was a dedicated and artistically gifted homemaker.
It was near the Grand Concourse, growing up in a mixed but predominantly Latino neighborhood, that Gina began to absorb the culture of her world. I always sang, always danced, because there was always music in the house and in the street. We heard Johnny Pacheco, Celia Cruz, Tito Puente, and Machito. And when the elders werent listening, my ears took in everything from ABBA to Led Zeppelin, Glenn Campbell to Nat King Cole and everything in between. My parents were classy beautiful Latin people. They grew up in the 30's, a time when you looked clean, you were pressed; you looked people in the eye; you were gracious, no matter how much money you did or didnt have. Those were the values I went into the world with.
Thoroughly bitten by The Bug in her senior year at La Guardia High School of The Arts, where she had spent the last four years studying Opera and Jazz as a vocal major, she decided against pursuing a higher education. To say my parents werent thrilled would be a huge understatement. I was ready to fly or fall. It was the only way for me to know if I have what it takes to make a life for myself in that world. Thankfully, it's all worked out quite nicely. Some may consider that, a huge understatement.
Within the year, Gina won the role of Deena Jones in her first professional production of Dreamgirls. The production also happened to be mounted in a dinner theatre where you brought your own dinner. I didnt care. I was completely in love with my circumstance. I was doing what I love AND was getting paid for it! And it wasnt long after that Gina was living out her dream and appearing on the Broadway Stage being directed by such legends as Tommy Tune and Pete Masterson in Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public and Jerry Zaks in Face Value. There was Off- and Off-Off Broadway plays and musicals that ranged from classic Greek tragedy in Antigone and Amphytrion; to Shakespeare's Pericles of Tyre and Julius Cesar; to contemporary classics such as Lorca's Blood Wedding; to the world premieres of Sheila's Day and Heliotrope Bouquet.
Roles on television and film followed in Law & Order, One Life to Live, Any Day Now, La Femme Nikita, Bed of Roses, Substance of Fire. But it was her collaboration with producers Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert on four different showsMANTIS, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, Xena: Warrior Princess, and Cleopatra 2525 for which she won an ALMA awardthat brought her to the fore as a first degree bad ass, and changed her life.
Other memorable characters soon followed like the Russo-Cuban assassin, Anna Espinosa on Alias; the shot gun toting mercenary Zoe Washburn in Joss Whedon's Firefly and the feature film Serenity, and the soul eating Jasmin on Whedon's Angel. She even managed to parlay the tough girl persona into the world of animation, voicing the role of Vixen in The Justice League series, and most recently, Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths in the role of Superwoman opposite James Woods.
Always looking to mix it up, Gina strives to keep her audience and herself interested. There have been many times when I have said, NO! Not another tough chick with a gun! Im not looking to hang up my holster forever, but Im always looking to pick up other aspects of our humanity, like the vulnerable and the broken, or the giddy and absurd, and shine a light on it.
The Shield opposite Forest Whitaker, 24, Pushing Daisies, Flash Forward, Gossip Girl, Boondocks, The Vampire Diaries and films such as, The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions, Jam, South of Pico, I Think I Love My Wife opposite Chris Rock, Hair Show opposite MO'Nique, Five Fingers opposite Laurence Fishburne, and Dont Let Me Drown (critic's choice at Sundance 09) are just a few examples of what happens when you take her gun away.
It's been twenty years since Gina's infamous dinner theatre experience, and all along the way one thing has remained the same; whether she's armed with a gun or a smile, Gina's packed and ready for wherever the ride takes her.
Gina and Laurence Fishburne have been married since 2002 and welcomed a daughter, Delilah, into their lives in 2007.