Gifted and dynamic actress Lumi Cavazos appeared in the Mexican feature "Romelia's Secret" (1989) before landing the role that would prove her breakthrough in Alfonso Arau's "Like Water for Chocolate. " In this mystical romance set against the backdrop of the Mexican Revolution, she was Tita, the youngest daughter whom tradition dictates is fated to spend her life in service to her controlling widowed mother. When Tita's true love (played by Italian-born Marco Leonardi, who became Cavazos' offscreen companion) weds her sister in order to stay near to her, she expresses her unconsummated passion through cooking. Cavazos shone in the role, her dark beatific beauty and transcendent performance proved enchanting to international moviegoers, including the surprisingly large audience the film won in the USA. Looking to make the most of her increased visibility to an American audience, the dark-haired actress with the large expressive eyes relocated from her Mexican home to Los Angeles in pursuit of a film career. She went on to act in "Snakes and Ladders" (1992), another Mexican production before appearing opposite Leonardi in Joseph B Vasquez's final film "Manhattan Merengue" (1994). The couple additionally acted together in the Italian features "Banditi" and "Viva San Isidoro" (both 1995). That same year, Cavazos earned her first credit in an official US production with a role in the independent "Land of Milk and Honey." Next up was an impressive comedic turn as a Cuban motel maid romanced by Luke Wilson in Wes Anderson's acclaimed "Bottle Rocket" (1996). While the role was substantial and her work praised by critics, it didn't do as much to further her American film career as it could have, primarily because it required her to speak only Spanish and did not exhibit her improving English-language skills. That opportunity arose with a featured turn in the 1997 TNT original movie "Last Stand at Sabre River," a post-Civil War western starring Tom Selleck and on the Los Angeles stage as photographer Tina Modotti in Andrea Centazzo's modern opera "Tina" in 1998.