Actress Justina Machado was born on September 6, 1972 in Chicago, Illinois, after her parents migrated from Puerto Rico. She began acting at a young age, being active in school plays when she was a kid. She eventually studied at the Lane Technical College Prep High School, during which she spent her spare time performing with the Latino Chicago Theatre Company. Upon graduation, she moved to New York City, where she established herself in the theatre scene; this led to her pursuing further opportunities in Hollywood, initially in theatre, and later transitioning to the screen.
Her initial projects were minor guest roles in television, appearing in programs such as NYPD Blue and Touched by an Angel, apart from intermittent film roles, starting from 1997’s She’s So Lovely. She also had more significant, albeit recurring, roles in Goode Behavior and Malcolm & Eddie. Her biggest break came in 2001, when she took a recurring role in the then-new HBO series Six Feet Under. The series was later showered with acclaim, and her character—well-meaning registered nurse Vanessa Diaz—became a regular character until the series folded in 2005. By the time, she also appeared in films such as AI: Artificial Intelligence, Final Destination 2 and Torque, and in 2003, took a role in the Canadian series 1-800-Missing.
When Six Feet Under folded, Machado continued taking guest roles in television shows such as Kath & Kim, Grey’s Anatomy, Cold Case, Ugly Betty and a recurring role in the final season of ER. She had fewer movies during the time, including The Accidental Husband and In the Electric Mist. She is set to star in the medical drama Three Rivers.