Ten years ago, Penélope Cruz made history as the first Spanish-born actress to win an Academy Award. It was 2009 — and the movie was "Vicky Cristina Barcelona." Cruz, who had been acting since she was a teen, beat out Hollywood heavyweights like Viola Davis, Amy Adams, Taraji P. Henson and Marisa Tomei in the Best Supporting Actress category. In her acceptance speech she said, “Art in any form has been and will always be our universal language.” Cruz’s first language is Spanish. Following her history-making moment, she told reporters: “Could you work in America if you have an accent? Yes, you can.” "Si, se puede" (Yes, you can) is a chant of empowerment and unity that has been echoing throughout the Latinx community for years.
Before Cruz was bitten by the acting bug, her first love was ballet. She studied classical ballet for more than nine years. At 15, while girls her age were enveloped in quinceañera fantasies, Cruz made her acting debut in a music video. Two years later, she appeared in her first film, "Jamón, Jamón," with Javier Bardem.
In 2010, Cruz and Bardem got married. The couple, who have been in 10 movies together, are parents to two kids. “When I was 4 or 5, I was already performing, and the characters in my games were always mothers,” she told Marie Claire. “I really wanted to be a mother, for as long as I can remember.” The Latinx power couple have teamed up again in the psychological thriller "Everybody Knows." The film focuses on a family and a sudden tragedy that reopens past wounds. Cruz and Bardem revealed they were paid equally for their work in the film.
Cruz has never shied away from complex characters. She has starred in almost 60 movies, making six films with her friend and favorite collaborator, Spanish director Pedro Almodóvar. Their relationship as mentor and muse has brought them together again for "Dolor y Gloria" (Pain & Glory), out this year. Her TV turn as Donatella Versace in "The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story" has also been highly praised, proving this international star can do it all.