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Tony Plana Award-Winning Star of Ugly Betty and Director of Stage and Screen
Tony Plana recently starred as Ignacio Suarez, the widowed father to America Ferrera’s Ugly Betty, in ABC’s landmark, groundbreaking hit series for which he received the 2006 Golden Satellite Award from the International Press Academy, an Imagen Award, and an Alma Award. Ugly Betty was the first Spanish speaking series to be adapted to English for a major American network and received the highest ratings and the most critical acclaim of any Latino-based show in the history of television, most notably 11 Emmy nominations and a Golden Glove Award for best comedy. Previously, he also starred in Showtime’s original series, Resurrection Boulevard, and was nominated for two Alma Awards for best actor. Resurrection Boulevard was the first series to be produced, written, directed and starring Latinos, and the most awarded series in Showtime’s history including an Alma Award for the best television series of 2002. Besides recurring roles on Alpha House, Madam Secretary, Jane the Virgin, Cristela, Motive, The Fosters, and the CW’s newest hit, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend, his latest television features are Meddling Mom for Hallmark Movie Channel with Sonia Braga and The Jodi Arias Story for Lifetime where he plays the renowned prosecutor Juan Martinez.
He has directed two feature film comedies, A Million to Juan with Paul Rodriguez and The Princess and the Barrio Boy, the first Latino family film to be produced by Showtime, starring academy award nominee Edward James Olmos and Maria Conchita Alonso. The film received two 2001 Alma Award nominations for Best Made for Television Movie and Best Ensemble Acting and won the 2001 Imagen Award for Best Made for Television Movie. Plana’s television episodic debut was 2001’s Resurrection Blvd.’s Saliendo, which garnered critical acclaim, receiving a GLAAD Award for best dramatic episode of the year and a SHINE Award nomination for sensitive portrayal of sexuality. He has directed several episodes of Nickelodeon’s hit series, The Brothers Garcia, receiving a Humanitas Award nomination and winning the Imagen Award for its third season finale, Don’t Judge a Book by its Cover. He also directed the season finale of Greetings from Tucson for the Warner Brothers Network and the Halloween episode of Desperate Housewives in its final season on ABC.
As an actor Plana has starred in more than 60 feature films, including JFK, Nixon, Salvador, An Officer and a Gentleman, Lone Star, Three Amigos, Born in East L.A., El Norte, 187, Primal Fear, Romero, One Good Cop, Havana, The Rookie, Silver Strand and Picking Up the Pieces with Woody Allen. He has also appeared in the action thriller Half Past Dead with Steven Segal, & Morris Chestnut; The Lost City, with Andy Garcia, Bill Murray, and Dustin Hoffman; and Disney’s highly acclaimed GOAL, The Dream Begins! Recently released feature films include El Muerto starring Wilbur Valderama, Towards Darkness with America Ferrera, and AmericanEast with Tony Shaloub. His latest features are America with Edward James Olmos and Pain & Gain with Mark Wahlberg directed by Michael Bay.
Plana is the co-founder and Executive Artistic Director of the EastLA Classic Theatre (ECT), a group comprised of multicultural, classically trained theatre professionals. For the past 18 years, the EastLA Classic Theatre has been dedicated to serving economically challenged communities through educational outreach programs for primary and secondary schools. Through the EastLA Classic Theatre, Plana has challenged the boundaries of the teaching and learning of language through an innovative approach called Language in Play (LIP). Working directly with language arts teachers, LIP utilizes the performing arts to impact literacy skills in academically at risk and bi-lingual students.
Other accolades include two Nosotros Golden Eagle Awards for outstanding work in film and television, as well as five Los Angeles Dramalogue Awards for Theatre. In 2005 he was honored as Educator of the Year by Loyola Marymount University’s Department of Education and in 2006 received the Humanitarian of the Year Award from the Millenium Momentum Foundation at the Los Angeles Music Center. In 2008 he was awarded Loyola High School’s Cahalan Award as a distinguished alumnus and a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Imagen Foundation. In 2009 the HOLA organization honored him with the Raul Julia HOLA Founders Award for excellence. In 2010, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa selected him as worthy of one of the highest honors bestowed by the City of Los Angeles, The Dream of Los Angeles Award for his contributions to the media arts and education. He is proud recipient of the 2013 ALMA Lifetime Achievement Award from the National Council of La Raza.