Lupe Ontiveros

Actor, Social worker
There are plenty of character actors who possess a recognizable face but whose name may not be well-known. So far, that fate has seemingly befallen the terrific Lupe Ontiveros, but gradually she is becoming known to a ... Read more »
Born: 09/17/1942 in El Paso, Texas, USA


Actor (64)

Dark Mirror 2016 (Movie)


Aztec Warrior 2014 (Movie)


Days of Wrath 2014 (Movie)


Cry Now 2013 (Movie)


Common Law 2012 (Tv Show)


Rob 2011 - 2012 (TV Show)


Our Family Wedding 2010 (Movie)

Momma Cecilia (Actor)

Party Down 2010 (Tv Show)


The Whole Truth 2010 (Tv Show)


Cory in the House 2007 (Tv Show)


This Christmas 2007 (Movie)

Rosie (Actor)

Tortilla Heaven 2007 (Movie)

Adelfa (Actor)

2006 Alma Awards 2005 - 2006 (TV Show)


Maya & Miguel 2004 - 2005 (TV Show)


Sueno 2005 (Movie)

Olga (Actor)

Thirty Days Until I'm Famous 2003 - 2004 (TV Show)


Greetings From Tucson 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)


Mr. Saint Nick 2002 - 2003 (TV Show)


Passionada 2003 (Movie)

Angelica Amonte (Actor)

Leap of Faith 2001 - 2002 (TV Show)


Real Women Have Curves 2002 (Movie)

Carmen Garcia (Actor)

Storytelling 2002 (Movie)

Consuelo (Actor)

A Question of Faith 2001 (Movie)


Gabriela 2001 (Movie)

Grandma Josie (Actor)

5th Annual ALMA Awards 1999 - 2000 (TV Show)


Chuck and Buck 2000 (Movie)

Beverly (Actor)

Luminarias 2000 (Movie)

Tia Tonia (Actor)

Picking Up the Pieces 2000 (Movie)

Constancia (Actor)

Candyman: Day of the Dead 1998 - 1999 (TV Show)


No Mothers Crying, No Babies Dying 1998 (Movie)


Veronica's Closet 1996 - 1998 (Tv Show)


As Good As It Gets 1997 (Movie)

Nora (Actor)

Dave's World 1996 - 1997 (Tv Show)


Riot 1996 - 1997 (TV Show)


Selena 1997 (Movie)

Yolando Saldivar (Actor)

The Brave 1997 (Movie)


...And the Earth Did Not Swallow Him 1995 (Movie)

Dona Rosa (Actor)

Mi Familia 1995 (Movie)


My Family, Mi Familia 1995 (Movie)

Irene Sanchez (Actor)

Bound By Honor 1993 (Movie)

Carmen (Actor)

Dudley 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)


La Carpa 1992 - 1993 (TV Show)


Dolly Dearest 1992 (Movie)

Camila (Actor)

Universal Soldier 1992 (Movie)

Maid (Actor)

A Show of Force 1990 (Movie)

Pepita (Actor)

Gangs 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)


I Married Dora 1987 - 1988 (TV Show)


Born in East L.A. 1987 (Movie)

Rudy's Mother (Actor)

The Goonies 1985 (Movie)

Rosalita (Actor)

El Norte 1984 (Movie)

Nacha (Actor)

Zoot Suit 1981 (Movie)

Dolores (Actor)

The Border 1980 (Movie)

Madam in Whorehouse (Actor)

California Suite 1978 (Movie)

Maid (Actor)

The Big Fix 1978 (Movie)

Maid (Actor)

The World's Greatest Lover 1977 (Movie)

Whore (Actor)

But It's Not My Fault! (TV Show)


La Pastorela (TV Show)


Rio Diablo (TV Show)


Seguin (TV Show)


Stones For Ibarra (TV Show)


Those She Left Behind (TV Show)


When the Bough Breaks (TV Show)



There are plenty of character actors who possess a recognizable face but whose name may not be well-known. So far, that fate has seemingly befallen the terrific Lupe Ontiveros, but gradually she is becoming known to a more mainstream audience. A native of Texas, the seemingly ageless actress did not originally set out to be a performer. After graduating from Texas Women's University, she relocated to Los Angeles and found employment as a social worker. By the late 1970s, though, she had begun her career, first as a founding member of the Latino Theater Company and then in film and TV roles.

Unfortunately, early in her career she was annoyingly typecast as thickly-accented maids or ladies of the evening in mainstream Hollywood fare (e.g., "California Suite" 1978; "The Border" 1981). Still, Ontiveros managed to wring something out of what could have been degrading parts. She found greater success and a wider range of roles working in theater (e.g., "Zoot Suit" 1978-79) and in independent films (notably, Gregory Nava's "El Norte" 1983). Continuing to divide her time between the stage and film and TV, Ontiveros amassed a nice resume and was a recognizable face. With Nava's "My Family, Mi Familia" (1995) she began to assume meaty roles and the director offered her a real plum -- the part of the troubled assassin Yolanda Saldivar in the biopic of the Tejano singer "Selena" (1997). That same year, she was the sweet-faced maid on the receiving end of one of Jack Nicholson's character's tirades in "As Good As It Gets".

But it took "Chuck & Buck" (2000), the oddly touching tale of a warped childlike man who hasn't completely matured to solidify her indie credibility. As Beverly, the tough theater director who agrees to stage Buck's poorly conceived play, Ontiveros delivered an expert, scene-stealing supporting turn that made audiences and critics take note. The actress continued to work steadily in a wide-ranging array of features, including the oddball comedy "Picking Up the Pieces" (2000) and the "Non-fiction" sequence of writer-director Todd Solonz's "Storytelling" (2001), before landing her best role to date: in Patricia Cardoso's "Real Women Have Curves" (2002), she played Carmen, the imperious, overbearing, hypercritical mother of a full-figured Mexican-American teen (America Ferrera) who insists her daughter forego college and follow tradition by taking a job in the sweatshop where Carmen works. Ontiveros delivered a fully former performance that was both comic and cruel, earning critical raves. That same year she appeared to strong effect in "Passionada," as the strightforward mother-in-law of a faithful widow (Sofia Milos).

On television, Ontiveros had recurring roles on "Veronica's Closet" and the well-reviewed but ratings-impaired primtetime soap "Pasadena" and was a regular on the short-lived sit-com "Greetings From Tucson" (Fox. 2002) before her bravura turn on the first season of ABC's hit drama "Desperate Housewives," playing Juanita Solis, the strong-willed, suspicious mother-in-law of the adulterous Gabrielle (Eva Longoria).


Texas Women's University




Cast as the title character's Abuelita on CBS sitcom "Rob"


Reteamed with America Ferrara in the romantic comedy "Our Family Wedding"


Co-starred in the Lifetime biopic "A Girl Like Me: The Gwen Araujo Story"


Delivered Emmy-nominated recurring guest role on "Desperate Housewives" (ABC) as Mama Solis


Appeared opposite America Ferrara in "Real Women Have Curves"


Cast in recurring role on the Fox primetime serial "Pasadena," created and written by Mike White


Co-starred in "Storytelling," directed by Todd Solondz


Delivered an excellent performance as Beverly, a theater employee who agrees to direct a play by Mike White's disturbed, childlike Buck in "Chuck & Buck"


Delivered memorable turn as a sweet-looking woman on the receiving end of a tirade from Jack Nicholson's character in "As Good As It Gets"


Offered superb portrayal of Yolanda Saldivar, the disturbed woman who murdered the famed Tejano singer in "Selena"


Reunited with Gregory Nava, playing one of the Sanchez matriarchs in "My Family, Mi Familia"


Reteamed with Luis Valdez in "La Pastorela" (PBS)


Acted in "A Show of Force"


Supported Glenn Close and Keith Carradine in the CBS TV movie "Stones for Ibarra"


Cast in featured role in "Born in East L.A."


Played the maid Rosalita in Richard Donner's adventure comedy "The Goonies"


Co-starred in "El Norte," directed by Gregory Nava


Landed featured role in "Seguin" (PBS)


Appeared as the whorehouse madam in "The Border," starring Jack Nicholson


Appeared in "Zoot Suit" by Luis Valdez at the Mark Taper Forum in L.A.; transferred to Broadway in 1979


Cast as a maid in both "California Suite" and "The Big Fix"


Earned early feature acting credit as a prostitute in the comedy "The World's Greatest Lover"

Worked as a social worker in East Los Angeles and Compton, CA


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