Lauren Vélez is an American actress best known for her starring television roles as Dr. Gloria Nathan on the prison drama Oz and as Maria Laguerta in the crime thriller Dexter.
For Dexter, Vélez earned an Outstanding Actress nomination at the 2008 ALMA Awards and a 2009 SAG Award nomination for Outstanding Performance/Ensemble Television Drama Series.
In the same season, she won the Impact Award for Outstanding Actress in a Television Series from the National Hispanic Media Coalition.
While on hiatus from filming Dexter, Vélez starred and produced a one-woman show at the historic Colony Theatre in Miami as Cuba's national treasure Victoria Guadalupe Yoli ("La Lupe"), the artistic renegade who was banished from Cuba and later became the lead singer in Tito Puente's band in New York City.
Since her television debut in New York Undercover, Vélez's acting career highlights include eight Alma Award nominations, including one win for the role of Gloria Nathan on the HBO series Oz.
Vélez won a Vision Award in 2007 for Best Actress in Dexter, as well as a NCLR Bravo Award for New York Undercover and a nomination for City Hall with Al Pacino.
She was also recognised for her breakout role in I Like It Like That with an Independent Spirit Award nomination. In 2010, she was honoured with the Rita Moreno Hola Award for Excellence.
Vélez starred in the play, They Call Me La Lupe, at Teatro Latea in New York City during the month of January 2011.
Vélez also guest starred in the season finale of A&E's Breakout Kings and played a ruthless queen of a drug cartel who pulls off a violent and deadly escape while attending the funeral of her slain son.
Vélez also guest starred in the third season of HawthoRNe on TNT.