Catalina Sandino Moreno
Before landing the role, Moreno had many years of theatre experience in her native country, including four years with the Ruben Di Pietro Theatre Academy. After making Maria Full of Grace, she moved to New York City, where she attended the famed Lee Strasberg Institute and began acting in New York stage productions.
In addition to her Best Actress Academy Award nomination, Moreno's performance was also honored with the Silver Bear Award at the 2004 Berlin Film Festival, Best Actress honors from the Cartagena and Seattle Film Festivals, Chicago and Los Angeles Film Critics' Awards, and nominations for the Indie Spirit and Screen Actors Guild Awards.
Amid New York City's crime-filled winter of 1981, immigrant Abel Morales and his wife try to operate a successful business, only to see their efforts threatened by the lawless atmosphere permeating the streets.