Family & Companions
Venezuelan beauty Patricia Velasquez possessed a winning smile and dark, exotic features that made her a star in the fashion world and helped her launch a successful acting career in Hollywood. She was born Patricia Carola Velasquez Semprun on Jan. 31, 1971 in Guajira, Venezuela to an Indian mother and a Venezuelan father. The fifth of six children, Velasquez spent her early years living in Paris while her parents worked for the international organization UNESCO. After her father's contract ended, they moved to Mexico City and then back to Venezuela, where finances were so tight that the family could not afford to have running water. But her parents, who worked as teachers, made sure that Velasquez and her siblings received a good education. After graduating from high school in 1987, she went off to college to study engineering and accounting. Velasquez had no plans to become a model, until a friend of hers included her photo in a package sent to a casting call. As luck would have it, the agency called Velasquez, jumpstarting her modeling career that would eventually include appearances in exclusive fashion shows, print ads for Chanel and Victoria's Secret, and magazine editorials. In 1989, she competed in the Miss Venezuela pageant, taking seventh place.
Velasquez parlayed her model and pageant queen success into an acting career. In 1999, she landed a featured role in the blockbuster action-adventure "The Mummy." Set in the 1920s, a group of explorers (Brendan Fraser, Rachel Weisz and John Hannah) accidentally awaken the spirit of a Mummy, a high priest named Imhotep (Arnold Vosloo), while on a dig. Velasquez played Anck Su Namun, Imhotep's former lover who had died in Egypt circa 1290 BC, and whose soul he wants to resurrect. She reprised the part in the film's sequel "The Mummy Returns" (2001), where she also took on the role of Meela, the modern reincarnation of her Egyptian character. Velasquez found more work on television, including a recurring role on the offbeat comedy "Arrested Development" (Fox, 2003-06), as a Colombian soap opera star involved in a love triangle between Michael Bluth (Jason Bateman) and his brother George "Gob" Bluth (Will Arnett). Aside from her guest stints on a number of popular shows, including "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-12) and "Ugly Betty" (ABC, 2006-2010), Velasquez was also a regular on the PBS drama "American Family" (2002-04), about an immigrant clan trying to live a normal life after the death of their matriarch. She had a recurring role on Showtime's "The L Word" (2004-09), where she played an actress who appeared in a movie that Jenny Schecter (Mia Kirshner) directed. In 2012, Velasquez joined the cast of Donald Trump's "Celebrity Apprentice" (NBC, 2004- ).
By Candy Cuenco