Aside from doing a lot of impressive work on TV and film, she also spends much of her time advocating for refugees. After she and her family came to the U.S. when she was just two years old, she has first-hand experience driving her philanthropy. Here are a few more interesting facts about actress Milana Vayntrub, AKA “Lily Adams.”
Vayntrub was born in Uzbekistan and first came to the United States as a refugee, along with her parents, when she was just over two years old. Being Jewish, they feared for their safety in the troubled Soviet Union.
The family moved to West Hollywood, where they settled down and got their daughter into acting. The move came in an effort to make the money they needed to put their feet down in the country. They likely had no idea that their little Milana would go on to become a celebrity.
Making it Work
When the family first arrived in the United States, Milana said that her parents worked very hard to provide for her.
After Milana started making money of her own, she made it her mission to pay them back – well, it was one of her missions, but she was about to turn things up a notch.
Milana is proud of her Russian heritage, which she says was very influential in her home when she was growing up. The family used their native language in their home, and they still use it to speak to each other today.
She’s very close with her mom and even asks her permission before doing some more risqué shots. “I asked my mom for permission before basically putting my chest on a platter,” she said in the caption of one of her recent costumed images on Instagram.
If you have ever seen a picture of Milana’s younger sister, you’ve probably also seen all of the “wow, that family has some good genes” comments. And rightfully so, because both sisters are just naturally beautiful.
The girls are tight with each other, just like they are with their mom. In 2018, her sister, Briana, posted a picture online around the time she celebrated her 20th birthday. Big sis may not be super happy about it, considering she’s tried to keep her away from “the creeps.”
As a child in Uzbekistan, Milana faced turbulent, unsettling times with the family. They feared that, due to their religious identity, they would be targeted.
So, they came to the U.S., hoping to find a better life – and they did. But just a couple of years after they arrived, when Milana was just five years old, she was already helping to rake in the dough.
Making It in Tinsel Town
When Vayntrub was a kid, her parents wanted her to experience everything that the country had to offer so that she could figure out who she was and what she wanted to do with her life.
This resulted in her going to summer camp and taking gymnastics classes, which she’s jokingly called a “prerequisite for all Russian kids.” And, if making it in Hollywood is a difficult task for pretty much everyone, just think of how hard it is to accomplish when you’re a five-year-old who’s been in the U.S. for less than three years!
Milana's family still has the initial visa, which allowed them to come to the States. The family had it tough in their country of Uzbekistan, but they were proud of their Russian heritage, which still shows today.
In many cases, when they’re only communicating with one another, they use their native language. Milana’s parents always knew that she was special, and not long after they arrived in the U.S., she was already auditioning (and scoring) her first television roles!
Vayntrub may not have been a familiar face until the 2010s, but she’s no stranger to acting on television. Her first role on a TV show came about all the way back in 1995 when she played the young Tatiana on a few episodes of "ER."
Before that, she had done some commercials for Mattel Barbie. Though, when she first began her venture in Hollywood, it wasn’t because she was chasing her dreams. At that point, she and her parents were trying to put roots down and do what they could to make it in the States.
Vayntrub was cast in her role of Tatiana on "ER" in 1995. She appeared in the episode "The Birthday Party." After meeting George Clooney on set, she didn’t want their time together to end.
But, before Milana was an acting adult, and she was still gracing the screen as an adorable, funny kid, she got cast into her role on "ER," on which she got to work with George Clooney – and she was thrilled.
Milana Vayntrub has recently found herself the object of unwanted online attention, with people photoshopping her photos and making lewd comments on her pages and even on AT&T’s company pages. While that’s definitely not a cool thing to do, the attention likely stems from her being, well, gorgeous and a public figure.
In fact, before she landed her most well-known role, she dabbled in a bit of modeling. Usually, we’re used to seeing her in the commercials wearing her blue button-down shirt, but when you see studio/red carpet pictures of her, it’s not surprising.
If you aren’t familiar with it, "Californication" was a popular comedy/drama starring David Duchovny that aired for seven years between 2007 and 2014. In its final year of production, Vayntrub was cast in the role of “bad actress” on the episode "Like Father Like Son."
Although it was just a small part, she was thrilled to be a part of something with so much recognition. Little did she know she was much closer than she thought to a major part of her own.
Milana was cast in the eight-episode Yahoo! Screen series "Other Space," which premiered in 2015. She played the role of Tina Shukshin, the navigator on the spaceship, the UMP Cruiser, which makes its way around the universe.
But before the ship was used for those purposes, it was the setting of a reality TV series and is run by people who have no business running a ship. Take Tina, for instance, who has zero experience as a navigator and was only given the job because the leader of the ship is in love with her.
As of October 2020, Vayntrub’s net worth is estimated to be between $3-$4 million, thanks to several projects she’s completed throughout her acting career. Some older sources list it at closer to $500,000, but that was likely before she jumped on board with her latest project.
She may not have a huge bank account compared to some other actresses in Hollywood, but it’s impressive, and it only continues to rise. In fact, she even revived her role as Lily in early 2020.
Just a few years after her original appearance on "ER," she went on to act in the major soap series, "Days of Our Lives." She was cast into a small part in an episode of the show that aired in 1997.
After being noticed by Hollywood executives, it was only a matter of time before she was landing bigger and better roles. She knew from a very young age that she enjoyed acting, and she was determined to pursue it – for most of her life, anyway. Soo, she landed the role of Tara, Gilfoyle's girlfriend from "Silicon Valley."
One glance at her Instagram account will tell you everything you want to know about her relationship with four-legged friends. There are a handful of pictures of her posing with (and kissing) her pooches, along with cats.
In fact, there are so many of them that her followers have started posting fan art of her dog – which she loved and even called for more of, along with the caption, “please include a full dog.” She even has a motto: all animals, all the time.
Landing the Role
Although she’d had a lot of acting experience by that point, she really became a well-known face when she landed the role of AT&T’s “Lily.” From the very first commercial that aired, the world knew we were going to see more of her, and we were happy about it. After all, she was hilarious and enjoyable to watch.
From that point on, there were all kinds of Google searches to find out who the actress was who was chosen to represent this major brand.
Typically, you don’t get the chance to really connect with a character in a commercial that’s only 30 seconds long, but that’s not the case with Lily.
Director Hank Perlman says that was the point, and they tried to make her as funny, strong, and smart as they could possibly convey within that short period of time. They ultimately created a very likable character that people everywhere can relate to.
Milana knows exactly who she is and that the package includes being funny – but she says she hasn’t always known. In one recent interview, she said that when she was younger, “I knew that I liked people who were funny, but I don’t think I knew that I was funny.”
That is definitely all changed today, and she knows humor – especially in combination with beauty and brains – is a powerful thing. It was that combo that would help her land the role that would boost her acting career above and beyond.
The Voice of Reason
Aside from appearing in all of her recent TV and film work, she’s also done a lot of voice-only roles, including many radio spots and different podcasts.
The comedian is an advocate for several causes and uses her fame to really try and shine a light on the things that are important to her.
In 2016, Milana used her voice as a celebrity to speak out about the refugee situation. She’s an expert on this subject herself.
She says that the refugees are often confused about why they aren't being welcomed after the hardships they've endured in their former countries. She’s working to help people see from the refugees' perspective and change that so they are met with friendly faces.
Because of her childhood, and her history of fleeing from one country to another, Milana has made it one of her life’s goals to assist others who are facing the same type of hardship.
So when she went on vacation in Greece with her family, she decided to stay for longer and help people from a background similar to hers.
When speaking about her time in Greece, she told the reporter she’d had a revelation that made her feel bad for vacationing while these people were going through such a rough time.
It was then and there that she made the decision to become an activist for refugees all around the world. She stayed in Greece and started to take steps towards launching #CantDoNothing.
A Voice for Good
In a world full of so much pain and panic, celebrities often must decide what to put first – money or people. Milana decided to use her voice as a star to try and fight for others who don’t have the ability to be heard.
She’s been working since 2016 to spread awareness about the struggles refugees face. Her work tries to help families and individuals get their feet on the ground in the U.S. so that they can have the same type of opportunities she was able to find when she was a child.
Using Her Power
In 2016, Milana, along with entrepreneur Eron Zehavi, launched the humanitarian organization #CantDoNothing.
The group’s focus is on the global refugee crisis. They work to help refugees throughout the world find the peace they’re looking for and make sure that people everywhere are aware of the struggles they face. She tries to spread the word about it throughout social media, using the hashtag and asking her followers to tag more people to expand the movement.
Comedy came early to Milana, who used her silliness to cash in on commercials and other ventures throughout Hollywood. For one performance, she remembers practicing her burping.
She knew that to make people laugh, she had to step outside of what some may perceive as comfort zones. But she knows exactly who she is and what she’s doing. She even went so far as to call herself a “professional disgusting person.”
Something More Serious
Although Milana had been acting for as far back as she could remember, she also remembers thinking at one point that she should aim for something a little more concrete than a career in comedy.
She had doubts that her childhood star career would carry her into adulthood, so she decided to head back to school at the University of California in San Diego to earn her BA in Communications years after she’d gotten her GED at the age of 16.
This Is Milana
In 2016, Milana landed another great recurring role and appeared in "This Is Us" as Sloane Sandburg. Sloane is a creative type who pens a play that Kevin, one of the stars, chooses to audition for.
Before the two had gotten together, she was very shy and reserved, but her relationship with Kevin creates a character arch that leads to her gaining loads of confidence.
This Is Us
Sloane Sandburg, Kevin's love interest, has been referred to as having the more liberated type of vibe, which is definitely something Milana can pull off.
Sloane appears in eight episodes of the show, which is still on today. It can also be seen on the streaming service Hulu if you’re interested in bringing all of the episodes that feature Milana!
Back in the Day
In the early 00s, she may not have been a big name in the industry, but she was still making her way through the ranks and showing up in some serious productions. Take her three-episode stint as a dancer on the hit TV show "Lizzie McGuire," starring Hillary Duff.
By then, she had already acted on "Days of Our Lives," and she was getting noticed quickly by execs. She was not only adorable, but she was also talented and worked well on screen. This scored her some major points with the people in charge of production.
The Before Times
Before Milana Vayntrub was a well-known face, she played the role of Denise in the web series, "Roommates Enemies," which aired in 2012 and 2013.
At that time, she counted on roles like that to help her pay her bills while getting her feet on the ground and building her acting career. Plus, she’d also enjoyed acting, and she was thrilled to be a part of it all, no matter how small the parts were that she was finding. But it wouldn’t be long before she would catch her big break.
Pulling an All-Nighter
"All Nighter" is a 2017 comedy film about a father who works way too much trying to spend some time with his daughter and ends up having to spend more time with her boyfriend instead. Filming started back in 2015, and Milana was hired for the role of Terri Sadler.
Along with Milana, there are several talented individuals involved in the project, including J. K. Simmons, Emile Hirsch, and Analeigh Tipton. It received mixed reviews, but for the most part, they’re not too wonderful.
In 2016, Milana was placed into the voice-acting role of Doreen Green, AKA Squirrel Girl, on "Marvel’s New Warriors" TV show. The show ran for a few years in the late 2010s and was recently brought back to life for a new "New Warriors."
She’s amassed quite a following from this role alone, and fans are always happy to see her at conventions. Her most recent convention appearance was at 2018's NYC ComicCon.
The actress has amassed a pretty substantial following throughout internet land, with several different forums and blogs dedicated to her by fans all over the world. For example, the Milana Vayntrub Diva Fan Club on Facebook has over 7,000 followers who seem pretty active.
There’s also a Tumblr blog and Reddit, not to mention her own Instagram, on which she has nearly 900,000 people following her.
The Acting Bug
During her college years at UC San Diego, Milana knew she still wanted to have comedy in her life. It was what made her happy, but she couldn’t shake the feeling that she wouldn’t be able to make a career out of it.
So, she continued with her studies, but she also decided to enroll in their theatre program, which is pretty great, according to the actress. The university has a long list of entertainment alums, including Neil Patel and Benicio del Toro.
Milana has been making appearances on television since she was still in diapers. She knew from a very young age that making others laugh was a big part of who she was and what she wanted to do with her life. But there was that time during her teenage years when she decided to get her GED and started to have second thoughts about acting.
She let society convince her that she needed to do “something more serious,” so she went back to school. Luckily, she kept striving to achieve her dreams throughout and after her time at UC San Diego.
Recently, Milana has gone toe-to-toe with a gang of internet trolls who have harassed her using inappropriate, lewd comments on some of her photos. But, although she’s never intentionally posted any nude photos — or anything of the kind — she’s given one hotel parking lot a show (that no one likely saw.)
The moment happened in jest between her and a group of friends who snapped this shot. Still, posting a shot like this doesn’t warrant all of the harassment she’s been battling online lately.
Vayntrub recently took to her Instagram to bring awareness to the harassment she’s received since finding her fame as “the AT&T girl.”
During an online Livestream, she noted that she’d be out doing something ordinary like walking her dog, and all of a sudden, she’d see a photo of her that’s been distorted in a negative way by someone online. She told the viewers how hurt she was and how much of an assault this felt like.
The Company Has Her Back
Since Milana has seen her share of disturbing online comments, AT&T took to the internet to back her up. A spokesperson claimed that someone was removing inappropriate comments that were directed at the actress.
Of course, they can’t control all of the content that’s posted underneath their ads on social media sites, etc., and there have still been some things that have slipped through their fingers. Fellow actors and actresses took to Twitter to support her as well, including Paul Feig and Yetide Badaki.
Milana is just as talented behind the camera as she is on screen, but she takes on both roles, as actress and director, in the YouTube series, "Let’s Talk About Something More Interesting."
She launched the series with a friend in 2011 and had a number of guests on the show to talk about various things that could fuel comedic bits. She took on a variety of different parts in the span of 15 episodes of hilarity.
Guest Star Matt Damon
When Milana directed her YouTube series, "Let’s Talk About Something More Interesting," she played various roles, along with her friend, Stevie Nelson. The two would have guest stars that they’d interview and talk to about different subjects.
Of course, the actress never misses a chance to use her platforms to draw attention to world issues and used this opportunity to discuss the water crisis with Matt Damon – in a way that both made viewers aware and made them laugh.
Making It Well, you really know that you’ve made it in Hollywood when you’re turned into a Joke on Seth MacFarlane’s hit adult animated show, "Family Guy."
In an episode titled "A House Full of Peters," the main character (named Peter) asks his wife how he’d be able to “find out the name of the actual actress who plays the AT&T girl.” His wife responds that she left the list of hot commercial girls on the refrigerator for him. They don’t actually have to say her name because we all know who they’re referring to: made it!
On TV With Dad
Believe it or not, Milana actually made an appearance on television several years before scoring her first real acting gig in commercials. She appeared on TV with her father when they were on their way to the U.S.
On the trip, they made a number of stops, including in Italy, where they were awaiting final approval on their visas to continue to the States. At this point, she was already able to speak multiple languages, which she demonstrates by telling the interviewer that they were going to America.
Aside from being known for her work with AT&T, she’s done a number of voice-acting roles, the first of which was in 2005 in an episode of "Robot Chicken," where she played Helen Henny.
A few years later, she voiced Anya on "Immigrants." And then, of course, she played the voice of Marvel’s Squirrel Girl for several years in various TV shows and films. At one point, she even voiced her role as Lily when she played an animated version of herself.
Stepping Into Her Role
The day the actress wound up being cast into her life-changing role of Lily, she had very little idea what laid in the path before her. It was an audition for a commercial, just like many others she’d done before.
Apparently, she was having a bad day and didn’t have a great feeling about the entire thing. In one interview, she revealed that she was so upset she was actually in the waiting room crying – a waiting room that she was stuck in for a pretty long time. But the waiting was the least of her worries that day.
Tears of Joy
Milana couldn’t remember why, but she was having such a bad day when she auditioned for the role of Lily that she spent a large part of her time in the waiting room, shedding tears (along with being a bundle of nerves.)
Fortunately, none of that mattered to execs, who loved how she worked in their ads and invited her back to shoot her first commercial. After the initial one saw loads of success, they knew they’d struck gold.
The Life of the Party
Recently, the actress did a colorful shoot with Dopeness magazine, which is posted on their website if you’re interested in checking it out. The images are full of life and pops of bright colors and are titled "Milana Vayntrub: The Life of the Party."
When they asked her how she was enjoying the shoot, she said she was having a good time but had one complaint. After all, the shoot was in New York, and she understandably expected them to have good pizza – but faced one with some unbelievable rubbery cheese.
Throughout the course of her career, Milana has gotten the chance to work with some pretty cool people, from George Clooney on "ER" to Matt Damon on her YouTube series. One of her favorite moments was when she got to shoot with the world-famous Gordon Ramsay for AT&T.
In fact, she’s called the shoot her favorite since she signed on with the phone company. According to the actress, he’s just like you’d expect him to be: a great person who just so happens to drop a ton of F-bombs.
If there is anything we've learned about Milana so far is that she isn't afraid of new challenges and is always happy to demonstrate her on-camera skills.
Other than ticking commercials, film, TV, voice acting, modeling, and standup comedy off her professional bucket list, you'd think there's nothing left to conquer. But you'd be wrong. Milana has also appeared in three music videos: "Can't Be Saved" (by Senses Fail in 2007), "Teenage Tide" (by Letting Up Despite Great Faults in 2011), and "Hungry Child" (by Hot Chip in 2019).
Keep reading about Ana de Armas: A Hollywood Cinderella Story
Some years ago, Ana de Armas arrived in Los Angeles with a burning ambition to make it in Hollywood. She had little to no money and she barely knew English. Fast forward to today, the sensational Cuban-Spanish actor has quickly become one of Hollywood's most talented leading ladies.
From her quiet beginnings in Cuba to playing both a Bond girl and the iconic Marilyn Monroe, here is a look at her incredible journey so far.
Growing Up in Cuba
Ana Celie de Armas Caso was born in Havana, Cuba on April 30, 1988. She spent most of her childhood in Santa Cruz del Norte. Ana often reminisces about growing up in Cuba. She grew up close to nature, especially the ocean.
A young Ana had several cuts and scrapes from playing in the streets with her friends all day. She enjoyed a simple, rough-and-tumble childhood where she felt free.
Life in Grim Political Climates
Ana’s wistful childhood memories misrepresent the stark political climate of Cuba when she was growing up. At the time, Cuba was in the middle of the infamous “Special Period in a Time of Peace.” An economic period when the Cuban government introduced strict food and energy rationing to the public.
But Ana never felt that sharing food or wearing hand-me-downs was out of the ordinary. She credits her childhood and Cuba with giving her a grounded outlook that continues to serve her to this day.
Ana's Love for Television Began Early on
Things in Cuba were far from peachy. Ana grew up without cell phones, computers, or the internet. Even her entertainment options were limited to television only — but TV was all she needed.
A young Ana loved nothing more than plonking in front of the TV after homework and finishing her chores. She spent hours watching TV, swept away by the power of movies. She later told W magazine that she would think of her favorite scenes and re-enact them in front of the mirror. The entire process was very emotional for her.
Small Girl, Big Dreams
Ana’s knowledge of popular culture beyond Cuba was limited. She would pop over to the neighbors’ apartments to watch Hollywood movies. Soon, Ana had every monologue and speech down pat.
When she turned 12, Ana decided she wanted to become an actress. In 2002, she successfully auditioned for a professional actors' training program at the National Theater of Cuba in Havana. A 14-year-old Ana traveled all the way to Havana to attend the rigorous course, sometimes hitchhiking her way there.
She Risks Everything for an Acting Career
Ana took a big risk just a few months before submitting her final thesis. She left the school. That said, she had compelling reasons for upping and leaving. In Cuba, you first have to complete three years of mandatory service to the community after graduating.
Ana decided it would be detrimental to her career. She was determined to make it as an actor. Far from impulsive, leaving the program was a carefully calculated move.
Early TV Roles in Cuba
As a teenager, Ana landed a starring role in the romantic drama “Una rosa de Francia” (2006) opposite Álex González. The story goes that Ana got the part thanks to actor Jorge Perugorría, who first met her with his daughters at a birthday party. She made quite an impression, enough to earn the actor’s recommendation for a role. The director reportedly visited Ana’s school to tell her she had got the part.
Ana traveled to Spain to promote the film. During this period, she met Juan Lanja, who would eventually become her Spanish agent.
She Moves to Spain
The aspiring actor soon realized that the Cuban film industry was too small for the showbiz career she aspired to. The only solution was to move to Spain. She and her parents had already spoken about her relocation long before she had turned 18. But it was still a difficult decision for Ana.
At age 18, she obtained Spanish citizenship through her grandparents and moved to Madrid. Ana did not have much of a plan besides wanting to pursue an acting career. She did not know how or when yet.
A Difficult Start in Spain
Ana took a massive risk moving to Spain. She only knew her agent and some friends across the Atlantic and had 200 euros when she landed in Spain. If nothing worked out, she would return when the money ran out.
The money ran out in a week. Still, Ana remained in Madrid — staying with friends of friends — and persevered. The move to Spain was exciting, but she missed her family terribly.
Her Big Break on Spanish TV
Shortly after moving to Madrid, she landed a role on "El Internado," also known as "The Boarding School" in English. The popular series ran for six seasons with Ana as its breakout star. She soon became a household name in Spain for portraying Carolina – a student at a fancy boarding school. "El Internado" was one of the most-watched shows in Spain, and Ana’s splendid performance opened up several doors for her.
Despite the show’s success, she requested the producers to write her character off in its penultimate season. She feared typecasting and wanted to broaden her horizons beyond teenage roles.
Other Acting Roles and a Career Lull
Ana moved to New York City after “El Internado,”, where she spent several months learning English. Following a brief stint in the Big Apple, she returned to Spain for a seventeen-episode appearance on “Hispania” (2010-2011). Ana then dipped her toes in the horror genre with Antonio Trashorras's films: “El callejón” (2011) and “Anabel” (2015). She also appeared in the drama “Por un puñado de besos” (2014).
A lull in her acting career followed soon after. Although she participated in theater workshops during this period, Ana was nervous that her career wasn't heading anywhere.
She Marries Marc Clotet
In 2011, just as her movie career was taking off, she married actor Marc Clotet. The news about the wedding surprised many observers and fans. The couple had never spoken about their relationship publicly until then.
For her part, Ana ensured she stayed away from mentions in the press – unless it was about her work. This changed when a publication reported that the couple had exchanged rings in a small ceremony in Spain’s Costa Brava region. Soon after, they began appearing in several red-carpet events together, including the premiere of “Skyfall.”
A Marriage Short-Lived
Ana and Marc kept the details of their marriage private for the most part. The marital bliss was short-lived, however. Friends said the couple argued a lot, and whispers about a split began circulating. After two years of marriage, Ana and Marc called it quits. Somehow, the press never got wind of the divorce.
During the 2013 Goya Awards, Marc finally revealed that he and Ana had split up but remained friends. He clarified that the divorce was a mutual agreement and there was no bad blood between them.
She Reunites With a Former Co-Star
In 2014, Ana starred in a romantic comedy titled "Por un Puñado de Besos" or "For a Handful of Kisses." She appeared opposite her "El Internado" co-star, Martiño Rivas. The actors shared an excellent bond, and their on-screen chemistry was palpable.
The ease and comfort they shared negated the need for numerous rehearsals. The film follows the story of a couple that is HIV positive. Ana said she was thrilled and inspired to be working with Rivas again. She said he was her rock during intense and complicated scenes.
Ana Means Business
The actor decided to kick things into full gear by 2014. First, she hired a Hollywood agent who persuaded her to move to Los Angeles. Life in LA was challenging, however. Ana spoke very little English and received only Latina roles from most places.
Speaking of auditions, each one was in English, and she often had no clue what she was saying. Ana promptly enrolled in full-time English classes for several months to better her career prospects.
Ana Works With Keanu Reeves
Ana began landing role after role in LA, but she was still learning her lines phonetically. In 2015, she landed her first Hollywood release with Eli Roth’s “Knock Knock,” where she starred opposite Keanu Reeves. Despite Ana’s language challenges, the film received positive reviews.
Some critics found Ana’s performance unconvincing, her language probably had something to do with that. But apart from a few harsh criticisms, everyone (especially Keanu) thought she cinched the role.
Daughter of God
After filming wrapped, Keanu invited Ana to star in “Daughter of God” – a film he was acting in and producing. She was brought in to play the part of Isabel de la Cruz, which was a Spanish-speaking part. “Daugther Of God” was supposed to be her big ticket to Hollywood but things rapidly fell apart during post-production.
Sadly, her starring role diminished after editing due to constant meddling by executives. Working with Keanu was a dream, however. She said he made everything much easier for her on set.
Her Relationship With Franklin Latt
Ana and talent agent Franklin Latt never made public appearances together. But that didn’t stop the world from speculating and Insta-stalking. In 2015, Ana finally indulged in some social media PDA on Franklin’s birthday.
In August, Ana published a sweet photo of Franklin and gushed about him in the caption. She called him her best friend and boyfriend and the best human being. Though they seemed happy, the pair called it off soon after. The actor has since deleted the pictures from her Instagram.
Her Breakthrough Moment
Ana bagged a supporting role as the wife of an arms dealer in “Ward Dogs” (2016), where she appeared opposite Miles Teller. The film became her breakthrough moment in Hollywood. “War Dogs” was a commercial success and earned her instant recognition.
Although the role did not offer much substance, everyone noticed Ana's stellar performance. Critics called her acting “memorable” — a feat she achieved despite having to learn her lines phonetically yet again.
Ana in "Hands of Stone"
When Ana was still living in Madrid, she received a call from director Jonathan Jakubowicz. He had seen her in “El Internado” and wanted her to audition for a Spanish-language part in his upcoming film.
Ana traveled to LA for the auditions, and the rest is history. In 2016, Ana portrayed the wife of Panamanian boxer, Roberto Duran in the biopic “Hands of Stone” – her first Hollywood film. Ana’s character wasn’t meaty enough, but her charisma shone regardless – garnering appreciation from all quarters.
Rumors About Her Dating Life
In 2016, Ana and co-star Edgar Ramirez were photographed kissing at the Cannes Festival. The two insisted they were just friends, which was the last the world heard of that. The following year, rumors about Ana dating Alejandro Piñeiro Bello started making the rounds.
The Cuban artist regularly popped up on Ana’s Instagram page. She never made a public statement or mentioned the relationship in the press. But the ton of cutesy pictures together on social was enough confirmation for fans. They reportedly split in 2019.
She Is Unforgettable in "Blade Runner 2049"
2017 would be Ana’s biggest year yet with the release of "Blade Runner 2049" — Denis Villeneuve's highly anticipated sequel to "Blade Runner." People immediately took note of Ana as Joi, an AI-powered hologram with pink skin and blue hair. But she was also memorable for holding her own brilliantly in a film with legends such as Harrison Ford and Ryan Gosling.
"Blade Runner 2049” was Ana’s ultimate Hollywood moment and put her on the map. Critics praised her performance, pegging her as an actor to watch in Hollywood.
Ana’s role as Joi captivated the audience's hearts and imaginations. Sadly, neither her performance nor the film’s rave reviews translated into commercial success. “Blade Runner 2049” wasn’t a box office hit – far from it. Ana decided to return to Cuba the following year, where she bought a house.
She made sporadic appearances in a few films during this period. In 2017, she played a supporting role in the action thriller “Overdrive.” She nailed the performance, even though it was a sidekick role.
Hits and Misses
In 2018, Ana starred in the medical drama “Corazón” opposite Demián Bichir. Funded by the Montefiore Medical Center and directed by John Hillcoat, the film aimed to raise public awareness of organ donation. Ana also appeared opposite Himesh Patel in the romantic comedy “Yesterday” (2019), but eventually, they cut her scenes out of the film.
Director Danny Boyle said it had nothing to do with her performance. It seemed that the love triangle subplot of which Ana was a part did not resonate well with test audiences.
Acclaim for "Knives Out"
With the release of the murder mystery “Knives Out” in 2019, Ana proved that she had arrived in Hollywood. She played the role of housekeeper Marta Cabrera whose wealthy employers have many secrets. Ana almost passed up the opportunity when she first read the character description – “a pretty Latina caretaker.”
It sounded uninspiring and disrespectful of Latin culture. After reading the screenplay, she realized Marta’s role was more than that. Her character was the key to the entire story.
She Wins Accolades Galore for "Knives Out"
“Knives Out” was an outstanding commercial and critical success. Ana’s striking performance earned her tremendous critical acclaim in the industry. She received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress.
In an interview, she shared that she celebrated by popping champagne and calling her parents with the news first thing. Ana also won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress. She has also won the National Board of Review Award for Best Cast with the cast.
Many Roles, None Worthy of Ana's Talents
In 2020, Ana starred in several films back-to-back – most of them failing to make a mark. She landed a supporting role in the thriller “The Informer” opposite Joel Kinnaman. After the success of “Knives Out,” the role did not seem to do her talents justice. That same year, she also played the role of a femme fatale in “The Night Clerk.”
Many critics pointed out that Ana was too good for these films. She was bigger than the films and their seeming lack of vision.
More Film Roles and a Homecoming
Ana appeared as Carolina Larrier in the Netflix biopic “Sergio” (2020) opposite Sérgio Vieira de Mello. The biopic was received well, with Ana’s acting taking center stage. Variety wrote that her intelligent and compelling acting made her character more than just another love interest.
Ana’s next role was in Netflix’s “Wasp Network” as the wife of one of five Cuban intelligence officers arrested in 1998 and later convicted for several crimes in the United States. Filming took place in Ana’s home country, Cuba, making the experience even more special for her. It was her first time working in Cuba since leaving home at 18.
Her Romance With Ben Affleck
By early 2020, rumors about Ana dating Ben Affleck began to swirl in the industry. The actors had reportedly met and hit it off on the sets of “Deep Water.” And thus, began a strange new chapter, where the normally-reclusive Ana began featuring in tabloids – something she disliked intensely.
Pictures of Ana and Ben vacationing together made the news. The couple went Instagram official in April 2020 when Ana posted pictures of them together on her birthday.
So Much for Happy Endings
Ana and Ben’s love story did not have a happy ending. The couple went their separate ways in January 2021, just under a year after they began dating. Speculations made the rounds about the reasons for the split.
Some publications wrote that Ben allegedly did not want more children since he already had kids with his first wife, Jennifer Garner. Ana wanted to be a mother. Fans and the press hoped the couple would reconcile, but the relationship was beyond any attempts at saving.
On the Press Attention While Dating Ben Affleck
Others speculated that she was uncomfortable continuing the relationship because of the paparazzi. The actor told Variety that she had never sought attention for anything other than her work.
When the focus shifted to other things in her life, it felt disrespectful, inappropriate, and dangerous. She didn't know of any other way to find safety and protection other than leaving.
She Starts Afresh
Ana kept a low profile after the breakup. The constant press scrutiny during the relationship had taken an emotional toll on the star. She moved away from Los Angeles to escape the public interest in her private life. The actor later shared that going through the breakup confirmed that LA wasn’t the place she wanted to be.
She wanted a fresh start. The next chapter of her life would be in New York – the city that became pivotal to her transformation.
Ana De Armas the Bond Girl
Director Cary Joi Fukunaga was making the next Bond film. When he wrote the character of a CIA agent from Cuba, he had Ana de Armas in mind. Ana was intrigued by the role of Paloma – an effervescent woman who is as reckless as she is skilled. In 2021, “No Time to Die” was released worldwide.
Ana’s short appearance opposite the sensational Daniel Craig earned her positive reviews. A critical and commercial success, the film grossed $774.2 million worldwide. Ana joined the ranks of iconic Bond girls such as Ursula Andress, Halle Berry, Sophie Marceau, and Eva Green.
On Being a Bond Girl
The Bond franchise opened up a new world of action films for Ana. While the prospect was exciting, she admitted during an interview with Elle that she was apprehensive about it too. The thought of the role transforming her career made her nervous. She had never imagined becoming an actor in action films.
It was not her comfort zone. Throughout her career, Ana had been careful to look at all kinds of roles. She did not want to be boxed in as a Latina actor or, for that matter, a Bond girl.
She's a Fashion and Beauty Icon
It wasn’t long before the fashion industry wanted a piece of the rising Hollywood star. In 2021, Estée Lauder announced Ana de Armas as its Global Brand Ambassador. As part of the association, the actor would appear in numerous campaigns for the esteemed cosmetics company.
For her part, Ana said she freaked out a little when she got the news. She was excited about getting to work with such an iconic brand.
Ana's New Beau
In June 2021, Page Six reported that Ana was dating Tinder VP Paul Boukadakis. Six months later, the press obtained several photos of the seemingly happy couple indulging in some sweet PDA. The couple never issued a public statement about dating, but the proof was in the images.
Soon, Ana and Paul were gracing several industry events together. She and Ben Affleck had never made any public appearances while dating – so this new relationship seemed like the real deal. The pair attended several premieres in 2022, including the Venice Film Festival premiere of “Blonde” in September.
Ana Ups the Ante in "The Gray Man"
In 2022, Ana starred in the Netflix thriller "The Gray Man" alongside Chris Evans, Ryan Gosling, and Dhanush. In an interview, Ana shared that playing the role of the highly-intelligent Agent Dani Miranda helped her learn about herself as an actor. The process made her aware of her strengths.
Although she was no stranger to action films, the intensity of physical training for “The Gray Man” was new to her. Despite the hype and star-studded cast, the Russo-brothers film did not have many takers.
She Plays the Most Challenging Role of Her Career
2022 would bring Ana her most iconic role yet, as Marilyn Monroe in the Netflix film “Blonde.” Based on the novel by Joyce Carol Oates, the film follows the wild ups and downs of Marilyn Monroe’s career. The film was already controversial for numerous reasons before its release, partly because the story is fictional but wants to pass off as a biopic.
Ana herself was unfamiliar with Marilyn Monroe’s work. She told L'Officiel that she was honored to have the director’s trust regardless. Her approach was to imitate Marilyn Monroe’s journey — every joy, fear, and insecurity.
Behind the Casting and Making of "Blonde"
Director Andrew Dominik first noticed Ana’s brilliant performance in “Knock Knock.” Ana got the role of Marilyn after her first audition, even though the casting process overall was long. The director’s decision to cast Ana had raised many an eyebrow since she had a pronounced Spanish accent.
The actor worked with a dialect coach for a year. She also studied hundreds of videos, audio recordings, films, and photographs to embody the role. Despite the initial criticism, Ana’s powerful performance won over fans and critics alike.
Ana Took the Role Seriously
Ana made headlines not just for her performance in “Blonde,” but also for her unusual preparation methods. She spoke with AnOther Magazine about when she and the crew wrote messages to Marilyn Monroe. "We went to the cemetery and put it on her grave," she said.
She went on telling that they were all asking for Monroe's permission, in a way. They all felt like they had a huge responsibility and wanted to do their best.
"Blonde" Receives Love and Backlash
“Blonde” premiered at the Venice Film Festival where it received a 14-minute standing ovation. Despite the praise for Ana’s acting, the film received significant backlash. Viewers and celebrities called out the film for wildly inaccurate events and cashing in on Marilyn’s legacy.
During press runs, Ana had built a narrative that Marilyn would have been proud of the film. So far, very few people agree. Since its release, audiences have panned the creators for fetishizing a dead woman’s trauma and legacy.
On the NC-17 Rating
“Blonde” was the first Netflix production rated NC-17 by the Motion Picture Association of America. The rating generated considerable buzz, drawing strong reactions from audiences, cast, and crew alike. What is an NC-17 rating? It indicates a film unsuitable for anyone below the age of 17.
Ana and the creators maintained that explicit content was integral to staying true to the story. An essential element in unraveling the culture of exploitation within which Marilyn Monroe’s story takes place. Due to the rating, the film’s limited theatrical release also had a restricted audience.
She Was Not the First Choice to Play Marilyn
Playing Marilyn Monroe is every Hollywood actress’s dream. Although Ana ended up becoming the only right choice for the role, she allegedly was not the first choice. She faced competition from the most talented actors in the industry.
The film’s creators initially considered Jessica Chastain and Naomi Watts to play the iconic star. One of the points of contention in casting Ana was her accent. However, none of the other actresses made the cut for reasons unknown.
The Things She Did to Bring Marilyn to Life
According to a Netflix article, Ana started seeing Marilyn Monroe in her dreams early on in the making of the film. That is how seriously she took the responsibility. Observers say the actor was deeply-immersed in embodying the role. So much so that she even conversed with Marilyn in her sleep.
Call her crazy or committed, the deep empathy translated into Ana’s splendid performance in the film. One can fault the movie, not Ana’s acting.
On Becoming Marilyn Monroe
Ana received rave reviews for her incredible performance in “Blonde.” While speaking about the film, Ana said that nearly every scene had an existing visual reference for inspiration. The director created a “reference bible” filled with hundreds of photos and notes documenting Marilyn Monroe at different stages in her career.
Ana’s job was to delve deeper and peel back the emotional layers of each scene. Then she needed to re-create the moment for the camera in agonizing physical and emotional detail.
Looking Like Marilyn
The next step was looking like Marilyn Monroe. Ana shared how the hair and make-up department had one brief – turn Ana into Marilyn. A tough ask, given how Ana’s hairline was different than Marilyn's. The make-up department made her bleach her eyebrows and shave the center to find the correct Marilyn shape.
She said they also gave her a bald prosthetic cap to hide her natural hair color. She had close to 100 different looks since the movie had an extended timeline.
The cast and crew of “Blonde” were speechless when they witnessed Ana in full costume with hair and makeup for the first time. Her co-star Adrien Brody shared how he felt like had been transported to another time and place when she channeled Marilyn Monroe.
Ana reportedly burst into tears upon seeing herself in the mirror. She wondered how she would be able to keep doing this every day.
What Does Joyce Carol Oates Think of Ana’s Performance?
“Blonde” is a film adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’s novel of the same name. Joyce came up with the idea for her novel after she came across a photograph of a teenage Norma Jean Baker in 1941. Norma had just won a California beauty contest. Joyce had always been interested in the person behind Marilyn Monroe, not so much the celebrity.
To that end, she has given the movie her support and blessing – although emphasizing the film is the director’s vision. She called Ana’s performance “mesmerizing,” stating that the actor epitomized Marilyn’s fragility, beauty, and innocence.
Ana and Louis Vuitton
In 2022, Ana partnered with Louis Vuitton for all her promotional appearances in the year. She wore the fashion house exclusively for all her red-carpet events, including her debut at the Venice Film Festival in September 2022.
The outfit in question was a gorgeous pink LV gown, painstakingly hand-pleated and made from mousseline and satin. Ana’s grace and beauty had elevated her to the ranks of a global fashion icon.
Ethical Diamonds Are a Girl's Best Friend
In 2021 Ana partnered with the Natural Diamond Council. This was her first celebrity campaign. The actor was keen on working with the company since it was among the few ones that source diamonds ethically.
Her focus was on encouraging people not only to buy diamonds but also to know that their purchase did not violate the lives and rights of those who worked with them. She told Vogue that working with a company whose values and beliefs aligned with hers felt good.