As part of the ensemble cast on the surprise sleeper hit "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010), actress Ana Ortiz drew raves for what might easily have been a throwaway supporting role as Betty's older, more traditionally attractive sister, Hilda. An alumnus of the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts and Philadelphia's University of the Arts, she refined her acting technique in several theatrical productions in Philadelphia and New York prior to making the move to television. Early roles included a supporting part in "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie" (CBS, 1999) and a brief stint as a cast member on "Kristin" (NBC, 2001). Other guest spots and failed television projects followed, until Ortiz at last struck gold when she won the role of Hilda on "Ugly Betty." While not a series lead, she gained notoriety with the strength of her performance and the undeniable chemistry between herself and co-star, America Ferrera. Lauded by critics and fans for its positive portrayal of Latinos, the show became a certified hit during the first three years of its run. After "Betty" had left the air, Ortiz continued to appear in projects like the feature comedy "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" (2011), further expanding an already impressive Hollywood résumé.
Born Jan. 25, 1971, Ortiz was the daughter of Philadelphia City Councilman, Angel Ortiz. As a child growing up in Manhattan, she developed an early interest in performing, and began taking ballet lessons at the age of five. Finally succumbing to the punishing rigor of dancing "en point," Ortiz made the move to singing, securing her admittance to the venerated LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, where she was a voice major. Upon graduation, Ortiz moved to Philadelphia, PA where she enrolled in the University of Arts. During that time, she made her professional stage debut in the Philadelphia Repertory Theater production of "Dangerous Liaisons," before moving on to regional theater roles in several productions, including "Hamlet." After earning her degree, Ortiz moved back to New York City, where she joined the LAByrinth Theater Company and drew notices for her performance as a teenage mother in the critically acclaimed production of "In Arabia We'd All Be Kings," directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman.
Before long, Ortiz' stage roles led to small parts and guest starring roles on television, beginning with a minor role as a pregnant woman in the spin-off television movie, "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie" (CBS, 1999). Shortly thereafter, she had the good fortune to land a regular role on the comedy series "Kristin" (NBC, 2001) in which she played the worldly friend of the eponymous country bumpkin (Kristin Chenoweth), a recent New York transplant harboring dreams of stardom. On the down side, the show failed to connect with its intended youth demographic and was summarily cancelled after only six episodes. Other work included guest turns on episodes of "Everybody Loves Raymond" (CBS, 1996-2005), "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005), "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-06) and "ER" (NBC, 1994-2009). She once again joined the cast of a short-lived series with the courtroom comedy, "A.U.S.A." (NBC, 2003) - a show that managed to hang on for eight episodes before getting the proverbial ax. Ortiz then landed a regular role in "Over There" (FX, 2005-06), producer Stephen Bochco's ratings challenged but critically acclaimed take on the contemporary war in Iraq. She also appeared in episodes of "Commander in Chief" (ABC, 2005-06), "The New Adventures of Old Christine" (CBS, 2006-2010), and in the role of Assistant District Attorney Holly Raines on several installments of "Boston Legal" (ABC, 2004-09), before finally joining the cast of a verifiable hit series.
While "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010) could have been yet another project in a string of cancellations for Ortiz, but from the beginning, the actress knew she was involved in something special. A U.S. adaptation of the long-running Columbian telenovela, "Yo soy Betty la Fea," the show revolved around the exploits of Betty Suarez (America Ferrera), a plain, bespectacled, braces-wearing Mexican-American girl who finds herself working at a prestigious New York fashion magazine. Ortiz played Hilda Suarez, Betty's tempestuous, protective, and at times, vain sister. A strong-willed single mother struggling to provide for her son, Hilda was the more practical counterpoint to Betty's pie-in-the-sky optimism, as well as a source of unequivocal support for her younger sibling. Co-produced and developed by actress Salma Hayek, the show was embraced by audiences - in particular, the Latin-American community, who appreciated the series' depiction of a Latino family handling issues of beauty, class, and race with intelligence and grace. Over the course of the series' four-year run, Ortiz was consistently single out for her work, winning an American Latin Media Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2007.
During and after "Ugly Betty," Ortiz continued to rack up credits in both television and film. She picked up a small role in the independent comedy "Tortilla Heaven" (2007), and provided voice work for the animated superhero feature "Batman: Gotham Knight" (2008). Ortiz impressed as a woman accused of kidnapping the infant of another woman and raising it as her own in "Little Girl Lost: The Delimar Vera Story" (Lifetime, 2008), followed by a smaller role in the Lindsay Lohan fake-pregnancy comedy, "Labor Pains" (ABC Family, 2009). Other work included an appearance in Martin Lawrence's third entry in the prosthetic-enhanced, cross-dressing comedy franchise, "Big Mommas: Like Father, Like Son" (2011).
Cast (Feature Film)
Producer (Feature Film)
Appeared off-Broadway in "In Arabia, We'd All Be Kings," directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman
Made television debut in "Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie" (CBS)
First starring role in a series, "Kristin" (NBC)
Cast opposite Kelsey Grammer in the ABC TV-movie "Mr. Saint Nick"
Cast on the short-lived NBC series "A.U.S.A"
Had a recurring role as Anna in the FX series set in wartime Iraq "Over There"
Cast on the ABC hit series "Ugly Betty" as the title character's older sister, Hilda Suarez
Landed a recurring role on ABC's acclaimed "Boston Legal" as A.D.A. Holly Raines
Had a small role in the independent features "Tortilla Heaven"
Co-starred in the ABC Family movie "Labor Pains"