Of Italian and Puerto Rican descent, Lana Parrilla's childhood in Brooklyn, New York, led to her joy of acting and her ability to play a wide range of characters. At a young age she began making home videos with her family, and with an aunt who was a working actress, the family supported her obviously natural inclination. Shortly after graduating from high school, Parrilla moved to Los Angeles to study her craft and began appearing in local theatre productions.
One of Parrilla's earliest on-camera jobs was an appearance in the Steven Spielberg action pilot Semper Fi. Shortly thereafter she joined the cast of the hit comedy series Spin City. Known for creating distinctive characters in quality series, she has been a regular on such critically acclaimed shows as Boomtown, playing a young paramedic, 24, as a counter-terrorist agent, and Swingtown, as a sexually progressive woman in the 1970s. Parrilla has also recurred on such memorable series as NYPD Blue, Six Feet Under and Lost.
Parrilla received the Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actress in Boomtown, and for her work in Once Upon a Time she has received the NHMC Impact Award, an ALMA Award for Outstanding TV Actress, and been voted by fans as TV Guide's Best Villian.
When not on location, Parrilla enjoys spending time with family in Los Angeles and New York and traveling the world. She has also done volunteer work in Sri Lanka and Haiti.