As a sassy single mom and sister to the title character on the campy dramedy Ugly Betty, this Hispanic actress finally found her breakthrough role after a decade in showbiz. Although she pursued ballet in her youth, she traded her dancing shoes for singing lessons due to the pain of dancing. A vocal major at New York's Fame school, the LaGuardia High School of the Performing Arts, Ortiz switched her focus to acting in college and honed her skills on the regional theater scene in both classical and contemporary plays. She made her TV debut with a bit part in Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie, then began landing guest spots on various series (ER, Everybody Loves Raymond), usually, to her dismay, playing Latina stereotypes. Even more depressing, she signed on to three successive shows — the sitcoms Kristin and A.U.S.A. and the critically hailed but low-rated Iraq War drama Over There — that didn't make it past their freshman seasons. Around the time of her multiepisode arc as a sultry ADA on Boston Legal, she auditioned for Ugly Betty. Although she initially read for the title heroine — a role Ortiz herself has said she was completely wrong and much too old for — the producers asked her back for the part of Betty's big sis, a dream part that allowed her to be sexy, acerbic and street smart. Off screen, Ortiz enjoys hiking and kickboxing.
- Her father, Angel Ortiz, was the first Latino elected to Philadelphia's city council in 1984, where he served for 19 years.
- Has said her childhood dream was to be a ballerina, but she switched to singing, and ultimately acting, when dancing became too painful.
- Made her television debut with a small part in the 1999 TV-movie Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman: The Movie.
- After her November 2006 engagement to Noah Lebenzon, guitarist for the indie-rock band Everything Is Energy, her father began to plan their wedding in Puerto Rico because she was too busy filming Ugly Betty.
- Enjoys hiking and kickboxing.
- 2006, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Nominee
- 2007, Screen Actors Guild Awards — Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series: Nominee
- Lydia Pilar Ortiz — Sister
- Lydia E. Hernandez-Velez — Stepmother
- Paloma Louise Lebenzon — Daughter
- Noah Lebenzon — Husband
- Angel Ortiz — Father
- Rafael Lebenzon — Son
- Angel Omar Ortiz — Brother
- University of the Arts, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States