On 28 April, City Connect celebrates the birthday of Penélope Cruz, the Spanish actress. She made her feature film debut in Jamón, jamón (1992). She was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award for her supporting role in Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008) and the first Spanish actress to receive a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Signed by an agent at age 15, she made her acting debut at 17 to critical acclaim. Her subsequent roles in the 1990s and 2000s included Open Your Eyes (1997), The Hi-Lo Country (1999), The Girl of Your Dreams (2000) and Woman on Top (2000). Cruz achieved recognition for her lead roles in the 2001 films Vanilla Sky and Blow.
She has since built a successful career, appearing in films from a wide range of genres, including the comedy Waking Up in Reno (2002), the thriller Gothika (2003), the Christmas movie Noel (2004), and the action adventure Sahara (2005). She has received critical acclaim for her roles in Volver (2006) and Nine (2009) receiving Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations for each. She won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2008 for Vicky Cristina Barcelona.
Cruz has modeled for companies such as Mango, Ralph Lauren and L’Oréal. Penélope and her younger sister Mónica Cruz have designed items for Mango. She has donated both her time and money to charities. Cruz has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent one week working for Mother Teresa; she donated her salary from Hi-Lo Country, TheThe Hi-Lo Country to help fund the late nun’s mission. A wax sculpture of Cruz will be placed in a premier spot in the Grevin Wax Museum in Paris.
Cruz has donated money and time to charity. In addition to work in Nepal, she has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent a week working for Mother Teresa that included assisting in a leprosy clinic. That trip inspired Cruz to help start a foundation to support homeless girls in India, where she sponsors two young women. She donated her salary from her first Hollywood movie, The Hi-Lo Country, to Mother Teresa’s mission. In the early 2000s, she spent time in Nepal photographing Tibetan children for an exhibition attended by the Dalai Lama. She also photographed residents at the Pacific Lodge Boys’ Home, most of whom are former gang members and recovering substance abusers. She said: “These kids break my heart. I have to control myself not to cry. Not out of pity, but seeing how tricky life is and how hard it is to make the right choices.” A pregnant Cruz showed her support for the battle against AIDS by lighting up the Empire State Building with red lights in New York City December 1, 2010 on International AIDS Day, as part of (RED)’s new awareness campaign, ‘An AIDS Free Generation is Due in 2015,’ which aims to eradicate the HIV virus from pregnant mothers to their babies. In 2012, she posed for an ad supporting PETA’s anti-fur campaign.
Cruz is a friend of director Pedro Almodóvar, whom she has known for almost two decades and with whom she has worked on films.Cruz is known to friends as Pe. Cruz owns a clothing store in Madrid and designed jewelry and handbags with her younger sister for a company in Japan.
Cruz had a three-year relationship with Tom Cruise after they appeared together in Vanilla Sky. It ended in January 2004. Cruz dated actor Matthew McConaughey from February 2005 to June 2006. In 2007, Cruz began dating Spanish actor Javier Bardem, who was her co-star in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. They married in early July 2010 in a private ceremony at a friend’s home in The Bahamas. Cruz gave birth to their first child, son Leonardo Encinas, in January 2011 at Cedars Sinai Hospital in Los Angeles. In February 2013, it was announced that Cruz is pregnant with the couple’s second child.
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