Worked With:

Rico Rodriguez

Kevin Kline

Mike O'Malley

Frank Grillo

Kate Walsh

Halle Berry

Teri Polo

Kathy Bates

Justina Machado Biography

Home > Actresses > M > Machado, Justina > Biography

Birth Name: Justina Machado
Born: 09/06/1972
Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Although she was primarily known for her role as the emotionally unstable Vanessa Diaz on the cult favorite "Six Feet Under" (HBO 2001-05), Justina Machado had an illustrious career as a television actress. After landing her first TV role on an entry in the critically-acclaimed "ABC Afterschool Specials" (ABC 1972-95), she continued to work steadily throughout the 1990s, appearing in guest spots on top-rated shows like "NYPD Blue" (ABC 1993-2005) and "ER" (NBC 1994-2009) before landing her breakout performance as the post-partum depression-suffering housewife on Alan Ball's dark family drama in 2001. Her award-winning work on "Six Feet Under" subsequently opened a whole new array of opportunities for the Chicago-bred actress, and in the years that followed she appeared in recurring parts on such highly-rated shows as "Desperate Housewives" (ABC 2004-2012) and Shonda Rhimes' medical drama "Private Practice" (ABC 2007-2013).

Born and raised in Chicago, Machado was a prolific stage actress as a child, appearing in numerous plays throughout high school as a member of the Latino Chicago Theater Company. After graduation, Machado moved to New York City to pursue her acting career in earnest. She landed a small part on the police procedural "Missing Persons" (ABC, 1993-94), as well as guest spots on short-lived shows like "Arsenio" (ABC 1997) and "Crisis Center" (NBC 1997). Machado's first big break came in 1997 when she nabbed a recurring role on the sitcom "Goode Behavior" (UPN 1996-97). The show was cancelled after a single season, but Machado soon followed it up with steady work on television and in movies, including a small role in Steven Spielberg's science fiction film "A.I." (2001).

2001 was also the year Machado was cast in Alan Ball's bleak drama "Six Feet Under." Her role as Vanessa Diaz, a pill-popping housewife suffering from post-partum depression, earned her critical praise. When the show ended after five seasons, Machado continued to work steadily on television. She nabbed a recurring part on the final season of NBC's long-running medical drama "ER" (NBC 1994-2009), after having appeared on the show's much-publicized live episode in 1997.