Wanda De Jesús
August 26, 1958
New York City, New York, United States
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Character actress Wanda De Jesus essayed determined, street-smart women on both sides of the law in a diverse array of projects, including "Blood Work" (2002), "Sons of Anarchy" (AMC, 2008-2014) and several runs on daytime television and New York theater. Born on August 26, 1958 in the Little Italy neighborhood of Lower Manhattan, New York City, De Jesus was the daughter of first generation immigrants from Puerto Rico, who sent her to The High School of the Performing Arts to nurture her interest in acting. She continued to hone her craft at The City University of New York, where she earned a degree in performing arts in 1981. After graduation, De Jesus briefly forayed into music as the singer for the punk band Coney Island White Fish while also acting at the Public Theater. Her work with the latter company led to a role in the Longacre Theatre's original production of Reinaldo Povod's "Cuba and His Teddy Bear" (1986), starring Robert De Niro, Ralph Macchio and Burt Young. De Jesus followed the show when it moved to Broadway that same year, and also made her television debut with a brief appearance on the daytime drama "Another World" (NBC, 1964-1999). She departed both projects the following year for a lead role on "Mariah" (ABC, 1987), a drama series about the staff at a prison. When the program was cut short after seven episodes, De Jesus transitioned into character roles , playing tough, streetwise women in "Downtown" (1990), "RoboCop 2" (1990), and numerous television series. In 1991, she joined the cast of the daytime soap "Santa Barbara" (NBC, 1984-1993) as Santana Andrade, the daughter of a wealthy family's maid and secret lover of its patriarch, played by Jed Allen. De Jesus remained with the series for a year before returning to guest work on television, including appearances on "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) opposite her longtime significant other, Jimmy Smits. In the 1990s, she returned to features with appearances in "Flawless" (1999) with De Niro and "The Insider" (1999) with Al Pacino and Russell Crowe. Strong notices for her turns as Clint Eastwood's love interest in "Blood Work" (2002) and "Almost a Woman" (PBS, 2001), a "Masterpiece Theatre" (PBS, 1971- ) American Collection presentation that earned her an Imagen Award, led to recurring roles on such high-profile series as "CSI: Miami" (CBS, 2002-2012), "All My Children" (ABC/Hulu, 1970-2013) and "Sons of Anarchy" as an associate of a Mexican gangster played by Smits. In 2019, De Jesus returned to the New York stage in The Floating Island Plays, a quarter of productions about the Cuban-American experience by Eduardo Machado.