Actress Gina Torres, Wife of Actor Laurence Fishburne, Is Charting her Own Path to Success

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“I put you out once. When I beat you this time, they’re going to have to peel you off the wall.” 

That’s a verbatim quote from the managing partner at Pearson Specter Litt, the New York law firm that anchors the action of the legal drama Suits on the USA Network. And that was one of character Jessica Pearson’s softer barbs.

With legal skill and intellectual agility, the fierce, formidable and, frankly, badass Pearson is a commanding presence in her tailored suits and pointy-toe stiletto pumps. But flip the script, and you’ll find a warm and passionate actress behind the lawyer and other take-charge female roles.

From her start on One Life to Live to her portrayal of Zoë Washburne, a fan favorite on the science-fiction TV series Firefly, Cuban-American actress Gina Torres has made a career out of playing tough women who don’t seem to sweat under pressure.

“People seem to buy that about me, which I’m happy about.”

She delivers that last statement with a deep laugh, knowing the woman who puts on the space-cowgirl costume and sleek lawyer suits could not be more different than her warrior roles.

Instead, Torres is an accomplished mezzo-soprano singer, who spends her downtime watching Broadway musicals with her 8-year-old daughter, Delilah. The actress speaks with gratitude about the long career she’s carved out in Hollywood.

At heart, Torres is still the girl who, with two older siblings, grew up in the Bronx, surrounded by Latino culture.

Her parents migrated to the U.S. from Cuba before the Cuban Revolution and gravitated to the melting pot community. Her 1970s’ childhood, she says, was filled with memories of a beautiful, technicolor New York City, “living in an apartment with all kinds of culture, every language and smell imaginable and a sense of community.”

Always drawn to television, Torres says she fell in love with telenovelas and variety shows as a child. She sang and danced in her apartment, but though her talent was obvious, her interest in making a career in entertainment was difficult for her parents to accept, especially her father. As immigrants, they dreamed that their children would become professionals, she says. “Doctors, engineers, something with a title. That was not where I ended up.”

Their initial lack of approval didn’t stop Torres from attending Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts, where she studied voice. She was inspired to pursue a career on the stage when her class watched a Broadway performance of the dramatic play A Day in the Death of Joe Egg with Stockard Channing in the lead role.

“I just remembered thinking, I want to do that. I want other people to feel the way she made me feel,” Torres recalls. “And I want to take other people on the ride she just took me on.”

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Source: USA Today | Lilliam Rivera, Hispanic Living magazine