Penélope Cruz Sánchez (born April 28, 1974, in Madrid, Spain). Her parents are Eduardo Cruz, a retailer, and Encarna Sánchez, a hairdresser. As a toddler, she was already a compulsive performer, re-enacting TV commercials for her family's amusement, but she decided to focus her energies on dance. After studying classical ballet for nine years at Spain's National Conservatory, she continued her training under a series of prominent dancers. At 15, however, she heeded her true calling when she bested more than 300 other girls at a talent agency audition. She received three years of Spanish Ballet training with Ángela Garrido. She also had jazz dance training with Raúl Caballero and she studied at Cristina Rota (mother of Juan Diego Botto) school in Madrid. She speaks Spanish, English, French, and Italian fluently.
Cruz first achieved fame when she appeared in the video clip La fuerza del destino for the Spanish synthpop group Mecano. She later started a relationship with Nacho Cano, a member of the group.
She was a TV presenter for the teen-oriented program La Quinta Marcha . She also had early exposure in Série Rose, a French erotic TV serial.
Cruz's first major films were Jamón, jamón and Belle Epoque, a film which won an Academy Award for Foreign Language Film.
In 1997, she starred as Sofía Pangia, alongside Eduardo Noriega in Abre los ojos, directed by Alejandro Amenábar, and in 2000 she appeared with Matt Damon in All the Pretty Horses. In 1999, she appeared in Pedro Almodóvar's Todo sobre mi madre, which won an Academy Award for Foreign Language Film.
In early 2001, she appeared in the film Vanilla Sky, the Hollywood remake of Abre los ojos. She played the same part in both films.
In 2006, Cruz received highly favourable reviews for her performance in Pedro Almodóvar's Volver. She won a Best Actress ensemble award at the Cannes Film Festival and has been nominated for an Academy Award, Golden Globe Award, Screen Actors Guild Award and BAFTA Award. She is the first Spanish Actress to be nominated for the Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role