Gina Torres was born in Manhattan as the youngest of the three children in her family. Her parents, both of Cuban descent, moved to the Bronx when Torres was a little girl. She started singing various Cuban and choir songs at a younger age. After graduating from Fiorello LaGuardia School of Arts where she studied opera and music, she wanted to study further and even got admitted to many colleges. But destiny diverted her path towards a career in acting. The decision proved right as she landed her first acting job within one year after her graduation. Torres made her acting debut with the character of Deena Jones in a production of ‘Dreamgirls.’
Her performance opened up the doors to Broadway and Torres started working with legends like Tommy Tune, Jerry Zaks and Pete Masterson. Her major works in theater during that time include ‘Best Little Whorehouse Goes Public’ and ‘Face Value.’ Torres also delivered stunning performances on stage in Off-Broadway and Off-Off-Broadway productions such as ‘Greek tragedy in Antigone,’ ‘Amphytrion,’ ‘Pericles of Tyre,’ ‘Julius Cesar,’ ‘Lorca’s Blood Wedding,’ ‘Sheila’s Day,’ and ‘Heliotrope Bouquet.’
After so many years of living through several characters, she reflected upon that magical moment of self-discovery when she was a student at Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts. Her class was watching a Broadway production of the play ‘A Day in the Death of Joe Egg,’ in which Stockard Channing played the lead role. By the end of the play, she decided to pursue a career on the stage. “I just remembered thinking, I want to do that. I want other people to feel the way she made me feel,” Torres told USA Today. “And I want to take other people on the ride she just took me on.”
Her widespread popularity from theater roles helped Torres to land her first role in the 1992 television series ‘Unnatural Pursuits,’ in which she played a character named ‘Silken.’ It led to a slew of major and minor roles in series such as ‘CSI,’ ‘Law & Order,’ ‘The Shield,’ ‘Alias,’ ‘Boston Legal,’ ‘Bones,’ and ‘Castle.’ Torres’ first breakthrough came with the fantasy drama series ‘Xena: Warrior Princess.’ She earned critical acclaim and audience praise for her portrayal of Cleopatra in the series.
She followed the success with another stunning performance in the 1997 drama series ‘Hercules: The Legendary Journeys.’ Her additional television credits include ‘Hannibal,’ ‘Revenge,’ ‘Huge,’ ‘24,’ ‘Pushing Daisies,’ ‘Flash Forward,’ ‘Gossip Girl,’ ‘Boondocks,’ and ‘The Vampire Diaries.’ Though short-lived, the 2002 space-western-drama series ‘Firefly’ from Fox, catapulted her as a fan-favorite among television viewers. Fox cancelled the show after the first season. But Torres carried over her role as Zoe into the ‘Firefly’ spin-off movie ‘Serenity’ in 2005.
Torres made her feature film debut with the 1996 movie ‘Bed of Roses.’ Her major movie credits include ‘The Matrix Revolutions,’ ‘The Matrix Reloaded,’ ‘Jam,’ ‘South of Pico,’ ‘I Think I Love My Wife,’ ‘Hair Show with Mo’Nique,’ ‘Five Fingers,’ and ‘Don’t Let Me Drown.’ Her career-defining role came in 2011 when she joined the legal drama series ‘Suits’ from USA Network. She played the major character of Jessica Pearson in the series, which went on to become a huge success. Torres made her character immortal with a measured portrayal of the formidable, fierce, agile, and bad-ass Jessica. The character also brought her several accolades and nominations including an ALMA Award, an Imagen Award, the National Hispanic Media Coalition’s Award for Outstanding Performance in a Television Series, and the Visionary Award from the LA Femme Film Festival.