A veteran performer on the small screen, actress Lana Parrilla spent her time in the spotlight as the cast member of several popular or at least critically acclaimed television series, including "Spin City" (ABC, 1996-2002), "Boomtown" (NBC, 2002-03) and "24" (Fox, 2001-2010). After being underused as Charlie Sheen's secretary on "Spin City," Parrilla found prominence as a paramedic and later rookie police officer on the critically hailed, but ultimately short-lived crime series "Boomtown." All the while, she scored guest spots on "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08) and "JAG" (NBC/CBS, 1995-2005), before playing CTU analyst Sarah Gavin in season four of "24." From there, Parrilla upped her profile with a starring turn as a swinging 1970s stewardess in an open marriage on "Swingtown" (CBS, 2008). By the time she was the Evil Queen on the hit series "Once Upon a Time" (ABC, 2011- ), Parrilla had established herself as one of television's most consistently working actresses.
Born in Brooklyn, NY on July 15, 1977, Parrilla grew up among famous and creative people; her father was Sam Parrilla, who played briefly for the Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles in the early 1970s. Meanwhile, her aunt was television and stage veteran Candice Azzara and her mother was an accomplished artist. Parrilla found her calling as a youngster by performing in short movies she filmed on her family's video camera. After graduating high school, she decided to make a go of acting and moved to Los Angeles, where she studied under acclaimed instructor Milton Katselas at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. Her first roles were small; a waitress in two episodes of the short-lived sitcom "Grown-Ups" (UPN, 1999-2000), and bit parts in the features "Very Mean Men" (2000) and the Jean-Claude Van Damme action flick "Replicant" (2001). Eventually, Parrilla graduated to more substantial roles, including the lead in "Spiders" (USA Network, 2000), a low-budget science fiction thriller about mutant arachnids terrorizing a group of journalism students.
Finally on her way, Parrilla began landing series work in 2001. Her first effort, "Semper Fi" (NBC, 2001), about life in a Marine boot camp, was produced by Steven Spielberg, but failed to land a spot on the network lineup. She had better luck on "Spin City," which she joined during its fifth season, shortly after Michael J. Fox left and was replaced by Charlie Sheen. Feeling that her character, deputy mayor's assistant Angie Ordonez, was underused, Parrilla left after just one season. She quickly racked up guest star credits on "JAG" (NBC/CBS, 1995-2005) and "The Shield" (FX, 2002-08), before joining the cast of writer Graham Yost's drama "Boomtown," which focused on the police, lawyers and medical professionals who deal with crime on a daily basis. Critically acclaimed but severely challenged in the ratings throughout its brief network run, "Boomtown" netted a host of awards and nominations, including numerous Television Critics Awards nods. Parrilla herself received an Image Award in 2003 for her performance as Teresa Ortiz, a paramedic and later police recruit who harbored romantic feelings for a married detective (Donnie Wahlberg). Their relationship, along with the rest of "Boomtown's" compelling storylines, was left unresolved by the show's cancellation in 2003.
Back in the world of independent film, Parrilla logged time in two features while working on the ill-fated series: the gambling drama "One Last Ride" (2003) and "Frozen Stars" (2003), for which she was top-billed. She then returned to television with recurring roles on "Six Feet Under," playing a dog trainer who briefly becomes the romantic interest for Peter Krause, and "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005), playing an officer who assists Detective Sipowicz (Dennis Franz) on a murder case. After a few guest shots on "24" as counter-terrorism agent Sarah Gavin, Parrilla joined the action-packed suspense series in 2005 for what was intended to be the majority of its fourth season, but was written out by the 13th episode after her character gets denied a promotion. She gave series work another try with "Windfall" (NBC, 2005-06), a character-driven drama about the impact that a huge lottery win has on the lives of several families, but the mid-season show was axed after only a few episodes.
In 2007, Parrilla turned up in two important back-to-back episodes of "Lost," playing Greta, one of the island's mysterious Others and co-operator of the underwater "Looking Glass" station, which needed to be neutralized in order for the survivors of Oceanic Flight 815 to send transmissions to the outside world. Parrilla's character helped interrogate former rock star Charlie (Dominic Monaghan), who dove down to the station to execute the survivor's plan. By the end of her second "Lost" appearance, however, Greta was dead by the hand of Mikhail (Andrew Divoff). The following year, Parrilla was on a new series, "Swingtown" (CBS, 2008), playing one-half of a sexually adventurous couple in 1970s suburbia who entice their new, straight-laced neighbors (Jack Davenport and Molly Parker) to explore a swingers lifestyle. The series, which began production prior to the 2007-08 Writers Guild strike, nearly came to an end before it ever got off the ground, but resumed filming in February 2008. The show premiered that June to mediocre reviews and subpar ratings. After that show was canceled, Parrilla moved on to play Dr. Eva Zambrano on the equally short-lived "Miami Medical" (CBS, 2010), before landing episodes of "Covert Affairs" (USA Network, 2010-14), "Medium" (NBC, 2005-09; CBS, 2009-11) and "Chase" (NBC, 2010-11). Parrilla finally scored a hit with "Once Upon a Time" (ABC, 2011- ), a fantasy-based procedural where she played the main antagonist in the dual role of Mayor Regina Mills and the Evil Queen.
Made acting debut as a waitress on two episodes of the short-lived sitcom "Grown-Ups" (UPN)
Joined the fifth season of ABC's "Spin City" as deputy mayor's assistant Angie Ordonez; left after only one season
Made feature film debut in the Matthew Modine-Martin Landau film "Very Mean Men"
First leading role in the unsuccessful USA movie "Spiders"
Featured in the Jean-Claude Van Damme movie "Replicant"
Cast on the critically acclaimed NBC series "Boomtown" as paramedic Teresa Ortiz
Featured in the gambling drama "One Last Ride"
Cast in three episodes of ABC's "NYPD Blue" as an officer who assists Detective Sipowicz (Dennis Franz)
Guest-starred as a dog trainer and romantic interest for Nate (Peter Krause) on HBO's "Six Feet Under"
Cast in a recurring role on FOX's "24" as counter-terrorism agent Sarah Gavin; briefly became a series regular
Joined the cast of the short-lived NBC series "Windfall"
Portrayed one of the Others in two episodes of ABC's "Lost"
Cast in a regular role on the CBS wife-swapping series "Swingtown"
Appeared in the Lifetime movie "The Double Life of Eleanor Kendall"
Landed a featured role on CBS' short-lived "Miami Medical"
Cast as the Evil Queen/Mayor Regina on ABC's fairy tale-inspired "Once Upon A Time"