Paula Garces was born on March 20, 1974, in Medellin, Colombia. Her father was a fisherman, and her mother was a schoolteacher. At age 7 she relocated with her parents to New York City, where she resided primarily in Harlem. She she started acting in commercials hired by agent Diego Santiago, her father’s best friend. She made her film debut in Hollywood in Paramount’s teen sci-fi adventure Clockstoppers (2002), starring opposite Jesse Bradford. She later was cast in Richard Benjamin’s hip-hop comedy Marci X (2003) opposite Lisa Kudrow and Damon Wayans.
Garces was next seen opposite Academy Award-winner Tommy Lee Jones in the Revolution Studios feature Man of the House (2005) and as “Maria” in New Line’s hit comedy Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle (2004) and reprised her role as “Maria” in the hit sequel Harold & Kumar Escape from Guantanamo Bay (2008), which his grossed close to $40 million domestically. Garces was also featured on Jerry Bruckheimer’s hit show CSI: Miami (2002). She starred in a six-episode arc on NBC’s Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (1999) as well as doing guest spots on HBO’s hit series The Sopranos (1999) and Oz (1997). While filming “Law & Order: SVU”, Garces was offered a role she could not refuse: a new cast member on FX’s hit television series The Shield (2002). Paula’s character, Officer Tina Hallon, brought new story lines and high ratings. Her contract was extended for three more seasons, once again securing her position as a rising Latina star.
In one of her first films she nabbed a starring role opposite James Van Der Beek and Mary McCormick, in the 1997 indie drama Harvest (1998) (aka “Cash Crop”). Other film credits include James Redford’s directorial debut, Spin (2003), opposite Rubén Blades, Stanley Tucci, Dana Delany and Ryan Merriman; the critically-acclaimed Hangin’ with the Homeboys (1991); Michael J. Fox’s comedy Life with Mikey (1993); and Jerry Bruckheimer’s urban drama Dangerous Minds (1995), starring Michelle Pfeiffer.
Expanding her career further, Paula worked behind the cameras as Executive Producer of the animated film Red Princess Blues Animated: The Book of Violence (2007), which received great reviews at numerous film festivals. She can also be heard voicing the lead character Princess.
Paula premiered her first comic book, called “Aluna”, at San Diego’s 2010 Comic Con. “Aluna” a period piece set in the 1500’s about a mystical tribal princess taken from her native Colombia by conquistadors and raised in Spain, only to return to her homeland to save her people, this is a multi-platform starring vehicle for Garces.
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