Eva Mendes (born March 5, 1974) is an American actress. She began acting in the late 1990s, and after a series of roles in several low-end films, she broke into more mainstream Hollywood releases, such as 2 Fast 2 Furious, Hitch, We Own the Night and The Spirit.
Mendes was born in Miami, Florida to Cuban parents and was raised in the Los Angeles suburb of Glendale by her mother after her parents' divorce; Mendes has said that her mother "suffered so much to make my life OK" during her early years. Her father was a car salesman and her mother, also named Eva, is now an elementary school principal. She is the youngest of four children (she has two sisters and a brother named Carlos). Mendes was raised Roman Catholic and aspired to be a nun. She is also fluent in Spanish. As a child, Mendes was teased about her "buck teeth".
Mendes never saw herself as an actress while she was young and pursued other interests. She attended Hoover High School in Glendale and later attended California State University, Northridge to study marketing, but dropped out after wanting to begin an acting career. She studied acting under the acting teacher, Ivana Chubbuck.