About Natalie Zea
Natalie Zea was born on March 17, 1975 in Harris County, TX. She aspired to be an actress at an early age, and began performing in school productions at Monahans High School. She had to put a stop to her acting dreams, however, when a drunk driver hit her as she walked home from a party. The accident left the then-17-year-old with a broken nose, pelvis, and leg. After she recovered, Zea moved to New York City to attend The American Musical and Dramatic Academy. Shortly after graduating from college, Zea launched her acting career with small parts in the short film "Boys Don't Cry" (1995) and its Hollywood version released in 1999, starring Hilary Swank as a transgender teen who is murdered after people discovered his real sexual identity.
In 2000, Zea landed her first big break after joining the cast of the soap opera "Passions," as Gwen Hotchkiss, a socialite involved in a love triangle with lawyer Ethan Crane (Eric Martsolf) and her friend Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald (Lindsay Hartley). After two years on "Passions," Zea continued to make inroads on television with guest starring roles on popular dramas like "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" and "Without a Trace" (CBS, 2002-09), as well as a series regular role on FX's crime thriller "The Shield," where she played the brief love interest of series lead Michael Chiklis' Vic Mackey, an LAPD detective who enforces his own brand of justice through breaking any laws he deems a roadblock.
Zea kept building career momentum with a starring role on the drama series "Dirty Sexy Money" (ABC, 2007-09) about the Darlings, one of New York City's most powerful families, and their reluctant lawyer Nick George (Peter Krause). She played Karen Darling, a socialite who had been married three times and had an affair with their family lawyer. Zea was pitch-perfect as a predatory vamp, and often stole scenes from the show's more seasoned actors, including Donald Sutherland. After the series ended, Zea kept up her TV guest appearances on shows such as "Hung" (HBO, 2009-2011) and "Law & Order: LA" (NBC, 2010- ), where she played a high-powered defense lawyer, and on Showtime's comedy-drama series "Californication," as one of the many love interests of David Duchovny's Hank Moody.
Her steamy scenes on "Californication" helped shape a sexier image and landed Zea a spot on Maxim's Hot 100 list in 2008. In 2010, Zea guest starred on the action drama "Justified," based on Elmore Leonard's novels Pronto (1993) and Riding the Rap (1995). She played the ex-wife of Timothy Olyphant's character, Raylan Givens, a U.S. Marshall with unconventional methods of enforcing the law. After a few guest stints on the show's first season, Zea was promoted to a series regular. Her character evolved from being the woman who left Givens for a realtor, to being drawn back into Givens' world while struggling to make her current relationship work.
By Candy Cuenco
|Travis Schuldt. Met while co-starring in "Passions" (NBC)|
|Monahans High School, Monahans , Texas|
|The American Musical and Dramatic Academy, New York , New York|
|Cast as Raylan's ex-wife, Winona Hawkins on FX's "Justified"|
|Had a recurring role of Jemma on the HBO series, "Hung"|
|Played socialite Karen Darling on ABC's "Dirty Sexy Money"|
|Cast as a series regular on the short-lived ABC drama, "Eyes"|
|Had a recurring role FX's "The Shield" playing a love interest to Michael Chiklis' Vic Mackey|
|Cast in the role of Gwen Hotchkiss on the NBC daytime soap, "Passions"|
|Played the role of Lana Tisdel Kimberly Peirce's short film, "Boys Don't Cry"; also had a uncredited cameo in the 1999 film|