Well known in her native Mexico but practically unheard of in Hollywood, Adriana Barraza suddenly became hot property after the release of Babel. In the 2006 flick she managed to steal the limelight from Tinseltown heavyweights Brad Pitt and Cate Blanchett.
As a little girl it was ballet, however, and not acting she had set her heart on. After seeing the Bolshoi ballet company perform in Mexico she was entranced and instantly decided her future lay in dance. However, when the time came to chose between classes in theatre, basketball or ballet at school her plans were thwarted when she discovered the ballet group was already full.
"I joined the theatre group, and ever since that day I've never wanted to get out of it," she recalls. "The most fortunate things in life, I believe they find you, that you don't have to go searching for them."
Adriana went on to have a successful career in the Spanish-speaking entertainment world, both as an actress and director. She appeared on a number of Mexican TV series, including the long-running Mujer, Casos De La Vida Real, and directed soap operas Locura De Amor, El Manantial and Complices Al Rescate. She also worked as an acting and dialect coach, being hired to help on the Adam Sandler film Spanglish.
But it was her role in the 2000 film Amores Perros that kicked off a chain of events which would make her the toast of Tinseltown. The movie was directed by fellow Mexican Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu, whose wife would later remind him about Adriana when he was searching for the actress to play Amelia in Babel. "Adriana sent a tape, and it was so good that I was almost crying," he recalled. "Every scene hit me in the heart and the gut." Needless to say Adriana won the part. And her portrayal of an illegal immigrant nanny abandoned in the Sonoran desert with two American children changed her US profile almost overnight, creating immediate buzz in the States upon its release.
Filming the movie was no walk in the park, however, and director Alejandro was bowled over by the actress' professionalism in the face of tough working conditions which required her to spend 18 days shooting in the searing Mexican desert dressed in a tight red dress and heels and carrying a baby. "She was feeling dizzy, but she just asked me (for) one hour," says Alejandro. "She went to the camper and had a shower, but she didn"t shower the face because of her makeup. She didn't want to delay shooting. Her commitment, her braveness, her strength were unbelievable."
The Miami-based star's fortitude paid off. She earned a Golden Globe nomination for best supporting actress as well as a nod from the Screen Actors Guild Awards. These were followed by the ultimate recognition, a 2007 Oscar nomination, proving that after a career spanning over three decades the multi-talented actress is finally getting the recognition she deserves.