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Born April 28, 1974 as Penélope Cruz Sánchez in Madrid, Cruz's early training focussed on classical ballet, rather than acting. She won a talent agency audition at the age of 15, which led to roles in music videos and as a television presenter, eventually easing her way onto the big screen. Cruz first reached a major audience in the Oscar-winning film Belle epoque (1992) and steadily worked her way up to become a leading lady of Spanish cinema.She began a profitable working relationship with the acclaimed director Pedro Almodóvar in 1997, from which sprang her first big international hit two year's later: Almodóvar's Todo sobre mi madre. She has since worked with leading American actors such as Johnny Depp, Matt Damon and Tom Cruise. Last year, she received rave reviews for her performance in yet another Almodóvar film, Volver. She won a Best Actress ensemble award at the Cannes Film Festival and became the first ever Spanish actress to be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role. Crucial Cruz Creations - Vanilla Sky (2001), Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001), All About My Mother (1999).