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Cameron Diaz: 1972—: Model, Actress Biography

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Cameron Diaz: 1972—: Model, actress.

"She has an energy, an electricity in her face—a sparkle that is unmistakable," photographer Jeff Dunas is quoted as having said in People Weekly about model-turned-actress Cameron Diaz. Diaz is an interesting combination of naiveté and geek—she actually won a belching trophy from Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards—mixed with sophistication and beauty. In 1995 she was chosen as one of Empire magazine's 100 Sexiest Stars in film history, and in 1998 she was chosen as one of People magazine's 50 most beautiful people in the world.

Diaz was born August 30, 1972 in Long Beach, California to a Cuban-American father Emilio, and an Anglo-German mother. She graduated from Long Beach Polytechnic High School in 1990. She did not originally intend to model or act, but instead intended to study zoology. She met an agent at a party and soon she started down the road to stardom. An adventurous and independent woman, Diaz left home at 16 to live and model around the world in such places as Japan, Australia, Mexico, Morocco, and Paris. She was a responsible young woman, but the allurements open to young women away from home were very strong, and while she was in Australia she almost died from alcohol poisoning.

For about a year after that Diaz went through a rocky time full of rejections and hard work and she finally returned to California when she was 21. While on a shoot for L.A. Gear she met video producer Carlos de la Torre. The two moved in together and their relationship lasted for five years. While in Los Angeles Diaz continued working as a model until she was offered the role of Tina Carlyle in 1994's The Mask. She auditioned for a small, three-line role, and was stunned to be offered the female lead opposite Jim Carrey. In 1994 Diaz was also seen in a commercial for Salon Selectives.

After The Mask, the world of acting opened for Diaz. She was next seen in such movies as The Last Supper, (1995,) She's the One, (1996,) Feeling Minnesota, (1996,) Head Above Water, (1996,) and Keys to Tulsa, (1997,) none of which attracted much attention. It was in 1997's My Best Friend's Wedding, that Diaz came more prominently into the public eye. Diaz was lauded by critics for her sweet, impetuous performance. Entertainment Weekly wrote, "[Diaz's] hilariously humiliating karaoke scene revealed: (1) her voice was not as pretty as her face, and (2) this was one blond who had more funny than anyone had previously suspected."

At a Glance . . .

Born August 30, 1972 in Long Island, California; daughter of Emilio and Billie Diaz. Education: Attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School; studied acting with John Kirby.

Career: Model, 1988-94. Actress, 1994-.

Awards: Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Favorite Supporting Actress-Comedy for My Best Friend's Wedding, 1998; American Comedy Award, Funniest Actress in a Motion Picture (Leading Role) for There's Something About Mary, 1999; nominated Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture-Comedy/Musical for There's Something About Mary, 1999; MTV Movie Award, Best Female Performance for There's Something About Mary, 1999; NYFCC Award, Best Actress for There's Something About Mary, 1999; ShoWest Award, Female Star of Tomorrow, 1999; ALMA Award, Outstanding Actress in a Feature Film for Any Given Sunday, 2000; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Favorite Actress Drama for Any Given Sunday, 2000; Blockbuster Entertainment Award, Favorite Actress Comedy for There's Something About Mary, 2000; nominated Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for Being John Malkovich, 2000; Block-buster Entertainment Award, Favorite Action Team (Internet Only) for Charlie's Angels, 2001; BSFC Award, Best Supporting Actress for Vanilla Sky, 2001; CFCA Award, Best Supporting Actress for Vanilla Sky, 2002; nominated Golden Globe, Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture for Vanilla Sky, 2002; nominated Screen Actor's Guild Award, Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role for Vanilla Sky, 2002.

With her ability at comedy proven, Diaz next took the part of Mary in 1998's There's Something About Mary. The New Statesman said of Cameron's character, "Everybody, whatever their role in the plot, is a fool rather than a knave—except for Mary. The California blonde Cameron Diaz portrays her as so drop-dead gorgeous, the only surprise is that the entire male population are not pursuing her." However, according to People Weekly, it wasn't her beauty that made Diaz so good in There's Something About Mary, but "It's what's beneath that beauty—sporty confidence, absence of attitude, and madcap point of view—that has made Cameron Diaz … Hollywood's sexiest, silliest sweetheart." Also in 1998 Diaz was seen alongside Christian Slater and Jeremy Piven in Very Bad Things. In an interview with People Weekly Diaz stated that her growing popularity has changed her: "It has toughened me up. I used to be such a nice girl. Now, I'm all calloused and bruised."

In 1999 Diaz was seen in Being John Malkovich as a frizzy-haired, sweet pet shop worker whose life was enhanced when she discovered a portal that allowed her to live through the eyes of John Malkovich. Diaz was quoted on the Internet Movie Database as having said of the film, "It's been said that in Hollywood there are only 14 different scripts. Well, this is number 15." It was an odd film, but according to the Advocate, "Thanks in no small way to Cameron Diaz and Catherine Keener, the wildly inventive Being John Malkovich is a sexy, gender-bending trip." The Variety said of Diaz's performance, "While it takes time to recover from the shock of seeing Diaz so dismally plain, with shapeless outfits and a bad perm, the actress again demonstrates her verve and razor-sharp comic skills as she falls for Maxine, is thwarted by her husband, and responds with fierce determination to secure happiness at any price."


Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, (2000,) was Diaz's next film. The film is a collection of five vignettes that are linked by characters and not by story. Also in 2000 Diaz was seen in the TV-to-film remake, Charlie's Angels. According to Variety, "Of the three women, Diaz is indisputably the dazzler; with her long limbs, beach-blond hair, lagoon-blue eyes, mile-wide smile, and shimmying booty, she all but pops off the screen as if in 3-D, and rarely has a performer conveyed the impression of being so happy to be in a particular movie." And Entertainment Weekly said that the film makes "beating the unholy crap out of bad guys as adorable as it is exciting."


Diaz's next project was the 2001 animated film Shrek. The film, different from anything Diaz had done before, was an unlikely fairytale that was praised by critics and audiences alike. Besides garnering many rave reviews from critics, Diaz was honored by the Girl Scouts for her portrayal of Princess Fiona. According to PR Newswire, "Princess Fiona's example of the meaning of true beauty was hailed by Girl Scouts, who inspired by the film, created a program tie-in to two activity patches for their membership." Diaz's next selection of projects was as far from the comical Shrek as possible—her next film was Vanilla Sky, (2001,) a mystery starring Diaz, Tom Cruise, and Penelope Cruz. According to The Roanoke Times, "Cameron Diaz gives one of her better performances."

The spunky actress returned to her comedic flair with the 2002 film, The Sweetest Thing, co-starring Christina Applegate, Thomas Jane, Selma Blair, and Parker Posey. She is set to appear in Gangs of New York, a film set in the 1800s in which she plays a prostitute opposite Leonardo di Caprio and Daniel Day-Lewis. She has also signed on to recreate her parts in both Charlie's Angels 2 and Shrek 2. Throughout her acting career, she has been nominated for and won many awards, including ALMA Awards, AFI Film Awards, Boston Society of Film Critics Awards, Golden Globes, MTV Movie Awards, and Screen Actors Guild Awards.


Selected filmography

The Mask, 1994.

The Last Supper, 1995.

She's the One, 1996.

Feeling Minnesota, 1996.

Head Above Water, 1996.

Keys to Tulsa, 1997.

My Best Friend's Wedding, 1997.

There's Something About Mary, 1998.

Very Bad Things, 1998.

Being John Malkovich, 1999.

Things You Can Tell Just by Looking at Her, 2000.

Charlie's Angels, 2000.

Shrek, 2001.

Vanilla Sky, 2001.

The Sweetest Thing, 2002.

Sources

Books

Contemporary Theatre, Film, and Television, Volume 28, Gale Group, 2000.

Notable Hispanic American Women, Book 2, Gale Research, 1998.


Periodicals

Advocate, November 9, 1999.

Boston Herald, November 2, 2001, p. 21.

The Christian Science Monitor, December 14, 2001, p. 15.

Entertainment Weekly, October 31, 1997,p. 12; December 12, 1997, p. 50; December 26, 1997, p. 72; June 26, 1998, p. 24; November 10, 2000; March 30, 2001, p. 50.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, January 20, 2002, p. 04.

Newsmakers 1999, Issue 1, Gale Group, 1999.

New Statesman, September 25, 1998, p. 65; July 2, 2001, p. 47.

People Weekly, May 11, 1998, p. 167; October 12, 1998, p. 176; December 28, 1998, p. 52.

PR Newswire, December 15, 2001.

The Roanoke Times (VA) , December 15, 2001, p. 1.

Teen Magazine, June, 1997, p. 54; December, 2001, p. 128.

Time, November 16, 1998, p. 133.

Variety, September 6, 1999, p. 61; January 24, 2000, p. 57; October 30, 2000, p. 21; December 10, 2001, p. 32.

—Catherine Victoria Donaldson

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