Catalina Sandino Moreno was born 19 April 1981 in Bogota, Colombia. She grew up in a middle class family - her father worked as a vet, and her mother worked as a pathologist - and both were supportive of her silver screen aspirations.
Success arrived via American director Joshua Marston. The Californian film-maker spent over three months looking for a suitable actress before happening upon the then-unknown Catalina during an open casting for the film Maria Full of Grace. The next day he arranged to meet the actress, who at the time was studying advertising in college, to discuss her interest in the part. What Catalina didn't know, of course, was that he'd already decided to offer her the job.
The lead role would go on to net Catalina a shared Silver Bear award with the actress Charlize Theron and a Best Actress Oscar nomination. Since starring as Maria, Catalina has since returned to TV roles including parts in American Gothic and The Affair. She has also starred in many films such as A Stranger in Paradise, Violent Year, and the John Wick spin-off Ballerina.
Catalina no doubt found support while filming the tough scenes in the arms of her long-term love, lighting technician David Elwell, who happened to also be working on the movie. The pair, who had lived together since 2002, married on April 15, 2006, in a small ceremony in Cartagena de Indias on the northern coast of Colombia, and have been together ever since, and share one child.