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Individuals of all economic strata are shedding their jobs, hometowns, and lifestyle to embrace a wider experience and a more meaningful existence.

Leonor Varela

Leonor VarelaLeonor Varela Palma, born December 29th, 1972 in Santiago, Chile is a Chilean award-winning film and television actress, model and activist.

Leonor Varela is an international star who played the title role in the 1999 television film Cleopatra, and vampire princess Nyssa Damaskinos in the 2002 film Blade II.

Varela first came to the attention of U.S. audiences when she starred in the title role of ABC's acclaimed mini-series Cleopatra. Daily Variety called her "a true find, inhabiting the role with a smoldering gusto born of defiant confidence."

Varela has since gone on to star in a number of major Hollywood motion pictures, including Blade II opposite Wesley Snipes, Tailor Of Panama opposite Geoffrey Rush and Pierce Brosnan, among many others.

She had a recurring guest lead in the popular Emmy-winning TV series Arrested Development, a tantalizing seven-episode run on the new Dallas, and a guest starring role on Joss Whedon's hit show Agents of Shield.

Most recently Varela starred in the Helen Hunt directed feature Ride opposite Luke Wilson and wrapped a lead role in the true crime thriller Captive with Kate Mara, David Oyelowo and Michael K. Williams.

Leonor VarelaLeonor is the daughter of Leonor Palma-Keller, a massage therapist and biologist and cognitive neuroscientist Francisco Varela García. She has a sister, Alejandra, and two brothers, Javier and Gabriel. Her mother was of French, Hungarian, and Syrian descent.

When Varela was a child, her family fled Chile after the 1973 military coup d'état. Her family moved to Costa Rica, leaving behind the dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. They subsequently resided in Germany, USA, and France, where Varela studied.

In the early 1980s, her parents moved back to Chile while she remained in Paris where she studied acting at the Niels Arestrup School, L'École du Passage, and the Conservatoire Supérieur de Paris.

Varela's first acting job was in 1995, when she played Anette in Pony Trek, a children's film. The filming was in Iceland and Leonor had to ride horses for three months.

Then, referred to a French filmmaker by her dentist, she played in Shooting Stars in 1997. Varela found her popularity on the rise at home when she was cast in the Chilean soap opera Tic Tac.

After appearing in a few more television productions in the late 1990s, Varela was cast in a small role in The Man in the Iron Mask. In 1999, she played the title character in the TV movie Cleopatra.

Leonor VarelaRoles in The Tailor of Panama and Texas Rangers - both filmed in 2001, followed shortly thereafter, before playing vampire princess Nyssa in the 2002 blockbuster film Blade II. Soon after that came Paraíso B and Pas Si Grave.

Varela also had a short recurring role in the Fox Television series Arrested Development as the original Marta. She was nominated for the Ariel Award in 2005 in the category of Best Actress for Innocent Voices. She also had a non-recurring role in Stargate: Atlantis.

She appeared in Americano and played journalist Jordana Garcia in the film Goal II: Living the Dream. In 2012, she appeared as Marta Del Sol on the TNT television series Dallas.

In her personal life Varela was engaged to Billy Zane, her co-star in the 1999 television film Cleopatra, from 1999 to 2001.

She began dating producer Lucas Akoskin in 2011, and they married in April of 2013. In November 2012, Varela and Akoskin welcomed their first child together, a son named Matteo.

Their daughter, Luna Mae, was born on February 25th, 2015. Matteo was diagnosed with leukodystrophy (specifically an AGS) shortly after his birth. He passed away at the age of 5 on November 16th, 2018.

Varela, a vegetarian, is a marine life activist who is concerned with the welfare of whales, working with groups such as Save The Whales Again.

Leonor VarelaIn the '90s she appears in the Chilean soap Tic Tac in 1997, and in French and Europeans productions like Pony Trek in 1995, Sous le soleil in 1996, Shooting Stars in 1997, 13th Rider in 1997, Le juste in1996 and Bouge! in 1997.

Her career in Holywood began in 1998, when she joined the cast of The Man in the Iron Mask when she starred opposite Leonardo DiCaprio, and then she also appeared in Jeremiah in 1998 opposite Patrick Dempsey.

The following year, she played the title character in the ABC TV movie "Cleopatra" opposite her future fiancé Billy Zane and actor Timothy Dalton.

She appeared in The Tailor of Panama in 2001 as Marta and in Texas Rangers also in 2001 as Perdita opposite Ashton Kutcher.

In 2002 she appeared as the fanged vampire princess Nyssa in the action film Blade II opposite Wesley Snipes and Kris Kristofferson and directed by Guillermo del Toro.

After that came Paraíso B in 2002 as Gloria and in No Big Deal in 2003 as Angela. Varela also had a short recurring role in the Fox Television show Arrested Development during 2003, as the original Marta.

She was nominated for the Ariel Award in 2005 in the category of Best Actress for Innocent Voices. She also had a non-recurring role in Stargate: Atlantis in 2004.

Leonor VarelaIn 2005 she appeared playing Adela in Americano, and her following projects included Goal II: Living the Dream in 2007 - as the journalist Jordana Garcia, Where God Left His Shoes 2007 with John Leguizamo and the TV series produced by Jennifer Lopez - Como ama una mujer in 2007.

In the 2008 Sundance Film Festival she screened Sleep Dealer (2008) and the Larry Bishop's Hell Ride (2008), opposite Michael Madsen and Eric Balfour and produced by Quentin Tarantino.

She beat out 35 other actresses to play the title role in Cleopatra. She appeared on the cover of thirteen separate editions of Maxim magazine, each naming a different North American city as the greatest on Earth.

As a native of Chile who studied in France and has been living in the U.S. for many years, Varela is fluent in English, Spanish, French and Italian. She is of Chilean (including Galician Spanish) ancestry. She is also said to have some French, Hungarian, Syrian, and German roots.

Varela has drawn on her diverse background by taking on a remarkably wide array of foreign roles that have garnered critical acclaim and awards.

In 2009 she starred in the Spanish language movie Sleep Dealer, which was nominated for "Best First Feature" at the Independent Spirit Awards.

She was honored at the 23rd Annual Imagen Awards with "Best Supporting Actress" for Where God Left His Shoes and and received Miami's New Herald "Best Actress of the Year" award for her turn in Luis Mandoki's Innocent Voices.

Leonor VarelaVarela also starred opposite Jean Reno and Gerard Depardieu in the French comedy mega-hit Tais-Toi, which remained atop the box office in France for many weeks.

In addition to her acting career, Varela has appeared in major campaigns for international beauty brands such as Pantene and her face has graced the covers of magazines throughout the world.

Member of NGOs for the conservation of the environment like WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature), Global Green USA, Oceana (Osean Conservation Group) and Centro Ballena Azúl (Chile).

Her maternal grandfather Daniel Palma Robledo was born in the north of Chile in October of 1915.

He was a former Communist Party member until 1951, when he was kidnapped by DINA, Pinochet's political police, on August 4, 1976. To this day he is still listed as a missing person in Chile.

Her maternal grandmother, Rosalía Keller Keller, was born in 1919 in Tasnad, Romania, to Pablo Keller and his wife Fanny.

"In this business, if you don't have the capacity to step back and have some sort of relativity about things, you're screwed."

"I don't need jewels and cars. It's about the delicacy of the way I'm handled."

I'm not good with limitations. I tend to like to find my own. It hurts sometimes, but it's good. I'm little extreme in that sense-the middle ground is not my forte.

I don't believe in nudity for nudity's sake, but it's really beautiful when it's done well, when it's within a story. I'm very comfortable with my body. I grew up mostly in France, where nudity is not taboo.

It's not this hypocritical thing where we go, "No!" and then it's "Oh, yes!" When we strip away the clothes, the jewelry, that's who we really are. I walk around naked in my house.

Leonor VarelaIn addition to her acting career, Varela has appeared in major campaigns for international beauty brands such as Pantene and her face has graced the covers of magazines throughout the world.

Leonor is dedicated to a number of marine and environmental life causes, and has acted as spokesperson for organizations such as OCEANA, NRDC, Save the Whales, Make-A-Wish and others. Below are just some of the past passion projects with which she has been involved.

Extension of marine reserve in Rapa Nui
The Chilean actress Leonor Varela and Oceana call to protect the ecosystems around Easter Island and Salas y Gómez through the expansion of the Marine Reserve Motu Motiro Hiva and the creation of a Marine Reserve in Hanga Roa Bay. More information at oceana.org
Click here to watch the video.

Revocation of former President Pinera of the Thermoelectric Project in Punta de Choros

In the context of the energy campaign of Oceana, Leonor Varela visited La Higuera in the IV Region of Chile. After meeting the communities of Los Choros and Punta de Choros, she referred to the promise made by the former president of Chile, Sebastián Piñera, to oppose all thermoelectric projects affecting communities, the environment and the quality of life. Following this, and after a demonstration in Santiago where Leonor took active part, former President Piñera revoked the decision to build the thermoelectric project.

Click here to watch the video.

Leonor Varela

Leonor demands clean power

Concerned about the consequences of global warming, and the impact that this conflict will bring to our lives, Leonor joins NRDC to ask President Obama for more clean energy, for the benefit of future generations.
Click here to watch the video .

A Call To Action - "Stop Whale Hunting"
As part of the International Whaling Convention (CBI) Leonor made a public call to attend the O'Higgins Park in Chile. The idea was to put pressure on the CBI, to stop the indiscriminate hunting of whales. The public attendance was massive, and had the presence of Chile's Minister of Environment Ana Lya Uriarte and Steve Chadwick, Minister of Conservation in New Zealand. The thousands of participants formed the image of a giant whale that was photographed from the air, and the national press consigned it on their covers the first day of the convention. Shortly after, President Michelle Bachelet extended protection to whales in the country, indefinitely and permanently. She led a huge anti-whaling Rally on the eve of the 2008 Meeting of the International Whaling Commission in Santiago, Chile in June 2008.

Make a Wish Foundation
Thanks to the active participation and closeness with NGOs, Leonor was named "Celebrity with a Big Heart" by the Make-A-Wish Foundation. An honor she cherishes very close to her heart. www.wish.org

Leonor VarelaThousands of comments were posted on actress Leonor Varela's social media - especially comments related to her appearance on television and on Instagram.

It should have been remembered that Varela lost her five-year-old son, Mateo, the victim of a degenerative disease that had ended his life. These commenters noted that this had visibly affected her work in several television appearances.

Even though most of her followers had been very sympathetic to the difficulties experienced by the Chilean actress, unfortunately many of them pointed out in their comments that in her recent releases that they felt she was "too thin".

In response this the courageous actress repiled: "Sure, your comments on my thinness come from good intentions (at least I want to think that.) But, I ask you to silence those comments because, as you know I have recently lost my son only 6 months ago and that Life simply does not have the same taste." she wrote.

She added, "Thin, fat, girl, tired … Anyway, but here I am - I'm trying to be nice to me and rediscover the taste for life, why not better help me and focus on something other than my weight?

Leonor's statement triggered several supportive responses - mostly from people urging her not to worry about what people think, but the damage had already been inflicted.

It is unimaginable that anyone would post comments critical of her appearance when she had remarkably weathered one of the most difficult and painful experiences any woman can ever encounter.

Leonor Varela

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Filmography

Film

Year Title Role Director
1997 Le ciel est à nous Vanessa Graham Guit
1997 Bouge ! La danseuse Jérôme Cornuau
1998 The Man in the Iron Mask Ballroom Beauty Randall Wallace
1999 Les parasites Fidelia Philippe de Chauveron
1999 Les infortunes de la beauté Annabella John Lvoff
2001 The Tailor of Panama Marta John Boorman
2001 Texas Rangers Perdita Steve Miner
2002 Blade II Nyssa Damaskinos Guillermo del Toro
2002 Paraíso B Gloria Nicolás Acuña
2003 Pas si grave Angela Bernard Rapp
2003 Tais-toi ! Katia / Sandra Francis Veber
2004 Voces inocentes Kella Luis Mandoki
2005 Americano Adela Kevin Nolan
2007 Goal II: Living the Dream Jordana Garcia Jaume Collet-Serra
2007 Where God Left His Shoes Angela Diaz Salvatore Stabile
2008 Sleep Dealer Luz Martinez Alex Rivera
2008 Hell Ride Nada Larry Bishop
2008 Hindsight Maria Paul Holahan
2008 All Inclusive Miranda Rodrigo Ortúzar Lynch
2009 Balls Out: Gary the Tennis Coach Norma Sanchez Danny Leiner
2009 Wrong Turn at Tahoe Anna Franck Khalfoun
2010 Que pena tu vida Alma Subercaseaux Nicolás López
2011 Blind Alley La Madre Antonio Trashorras
2013 Odd Thomas Odd's Mother Stephen Sommers
2010 Deseo Muchacha Antonio Zavala Kugler
2014 A Fine Step Liliana Bolivar Jonathan Meyers
2014 Ride Danielle Helen Hunt
2015 Captive Sgt. Carmen Sandoval Jerry Jameson
2015 All I Wish Bianca Susan Walter
2018 Saving Flora Isabella Mark Drury Taylor
2018 Alpha Shaman Albert Hughes

Television

Year Title Role Notes
1995 Extrême limite Marie "Sacrifice"
1995 Pony Trek Anette TV film
1996 Sous le soleil Jeanne "Comportement modèle"
1997 Le juste Pregnant Girl "En transit vers l'espoir"
1997 Tic Tac Pola Santa María Main role
1997 Inca de Oro Flor de I'nca TV film
1997 13th Rider Anette TV series
1998 Jeremiah Judith TV film
1999 Cleopatra Cleopatra TV miniseries
2003 Arrested Development Marta Estrella "Bringing Up Buster", "Key Decisions"
2004 Stargate Atlantis Chaya Sar "Sanctuary"
2005 E-Ring Lt. Col. Cat Rodriguez "Pilot"
2006 The Curse of King Tut's Tomb Dr. Azelia Barakat TV film
2007 Como Ama una Mujer Sofia Marquez TV miniseries
2010 Feroz Laura Palma Recurring role
2010 Monsterwolf Maria TV film
2010-2011 Human Target Maria Gallego "Salvage & Reclamation", "A Problem Like Maria"
2012 Dallas Marta Del Sol Recurring role
2012 Inland Empire Poopy TV film
2013 Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Camilla Reyes "0-8-4"
2015 Murder in Mexico: The Bruce Beresford-Redman Story Monica TV film
2018 Lethal Weapon Sofia Vasquez TV series

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