Penelope Cruz Sanchez was born on April 28, 1974, in Alcobendas, Madrid, Spain. As a child, Cruz amused her family by re-enacting television commercials. Though a natural actress, she took up dance for her choice of performance arts. She studied classical ballet for nine years at Spain's National Conservatory, and then moved to New York to dance under a series of prominent performers. Signed by an agent at age 15, she made her acting debut at 16 on television and her feature film debut the following year in Jamón, jamón (1992). She was critically acclaimed 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 playing María Elena in Vicky Cristina Barcelona. She was the first Spanish actress in history to receive an Academy Award and the first Spanish actress to receive a star at the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Penelope Cruz has modeled for Mango, Ralph Lauren and L'Oréal. Penélope and her younger sister Mónica Cruz have designed clothing for Mango.
Engagement in Cultural Diplomacy
Cruz has volunteered in Uganda and India, where she spent one week working with Mother Teresa that included assisting in a leprosy clinic. 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 them are former gang members and recovering substance abusers. 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. Dozens of Spanish film stars, directors, musicians and writers, led by Oscar winners Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem and Pedro Almodovar, have denounced Israel's incursion into Gaza. In an open letter referenced by Europa Press and other Spanish media, they described Israel's actions as "genocide."
Penelope donated her salary from her first Hollywood movie, The Hi-Lo Country, to Mother Teresa's mission.
Penelope Cruz to help start a foundation to support homeless girls in India, where she sponsors two young women.
Penelope Cruz has also supported the following charities listed: • 21st Century Leaders • Artists for Peace and Justice • Global Green • Greenpeace • ONE Campaign • Pacific Lodge Boys' Home • PETA • (RED) • Red Cross • St. Jude Children's Research Hospital • The Art of Elysium • UNICEF • Whatever It Takes