While "Blue Bloods" largely focuses on the Reagans, actress Marisa Ramirez plays one of the most prominent characters who isn't part of the family. She's been involved with the series since she joined partway through Season 3, and then became part of the main cast in Season 4. She plays Danny Reagan's (Donnie Wahlberg) partner, Maria Baez, and the length and closeness of their friendship has led many fans to wish for a more romantic dynamic to open up, so that Maria could finally join the Reagan family properly (via Country Living).
Ramirez has said that the nice thing about not being part of the Reagans, though, is that she gets extra days off to live life and be a mom. Still, she told PopCulture in a video interview, "I would like to have some of what they are eating sometimes at the dinner table. It looks really good, especially the rolls." She actually made it to one of the show's iconic Sunday family dinners during an episode last season, and it was a big deal (via CheatSheet) — but sadly, she hasn't joined them regularly since then.
But, if you know Ramirez from "Blue Bloods," now in its 12th season — and maybe "ship" her and Danny — you might want to know more about how she grew into this role, which she's now been portraying for nine years.
Marisa Ramirez, 44, is a Los Angeles native with a Mexican, Native American, and Irish background. As a child she attended an all-girls' private school in East L.A., but as a young tween, "a Polaroid picture of the 13-year-old girl made its way into the hands of a Los Angeles modeling agency," an official bio from her publicist says. An interview Ramirez did with Club Planet in 2011 indicates that her mom took her to an audition at age 5 and she "didn't want any part" of the industry.
Nonetheless, when she reached age 12, she became one of those teenagers you always hear about who was discovered at the mall when a sharp-eyed scout handed her a business card. She ended up working as a print model, then a commercial actress. Her work took her to countries in Asia, Australia, Africa and Europe. She graduated from Ramona Convent Secondary School in Alhambra, California in 1995, IMDb says. She ended up choosing her career over a college experience.
She later became a host. She has said (via Instagram) that one of her first jobs with MTV — and one of her first gigs overall — was hosting the TV series "Senseless Acts of Video," which aired in 2000. You may also have seen her in the video for the Backstreet Boys song "As Long As You Love Me" from 1997, pictured above.
Marisa Ramirez's official bio statement says that acting classes helped Ramirez conquer shyness. She then started her acting career out in the world of soap operas, telling Club Planet, "I was 18-19 and on my own. I didn't like being seen as an object, as a model. I was sort of a personality and I wanted to show it. So, I decided to pursue acting."
The former model made early guest appearances in "Days of Our Lives and "The Bold and the Beautiful" before landing on "General Hospital" for more than 100 episodes between 2000 and 2002. On that show, she played Gia Campbell, one of the members of the soap's teen cadre. Soon afterward, she played Carmen Mesta, the PR consultant at Jabot Cosmetics, on "The Young and the Restless" for more than 70 episodes in 2006 and 2007. When that character was killed off, she returned briefly as Carmen's cousin, Ines Vargas.
"A part of me thought I could stay with soap operas for the rest of my life. It's steady work and so fulfilling. You put on all of these hats and it was easy for me. I don't know if I would go back to it now. The world has changed a little bit with all the reality shows out there," she told Club Planet. However, when asked whether she'd ever go back to "General Hospital" more recently, she told PopCulture, "Who knows what could happen? I'm open to anything."
Marisa Ramirez eventually moved to primetime (per IMDb). She guest starred on shows like "Supernatural," "Castle," "The Suite Life on Deck," "CSI:NY," "Bones" and "Rizzoli and Isles." She also starred in the 2011 miniseries "Spartacus: Gods of the Arena" and in the 2014 movie "The Extendables" (no, not "The Expendables"). Some of the other roles she played included Dr. Chloe Artis in 2009"s "Mental," Detective Lina Flores on Lifetime's "Against the Wall" for one season, and Officer Riley Dunn in 2013's "Body of Proof." She basically started getting cast as cops and authority figures pretty regularly.
"It's kind of like my work was going in phases a little bit," Ramirez told Pop Culture. "There was a phase where I was the crying girlfriend. It was the sad girlfriend. It was like a bunch of guest star roles that was happening for a little while. Then maybe something happened in my personal life, where I just kind of evolved as a person and found some strength that was being seen in these casting rooms, and I just kept being cast as a cop."
How did Marisa Ramirez manage to segue to roles like that of police officers, which perhaps led directly to her long-running stint on "Blue Bloods," anyway?
She credits this — at least in part — to one of her favorite hobbies: kickboxing. In 2014, asked about where she hangs out in New York after becoming an East Coaster for the sake of the show, she told People, "I'm still working on it! The gym, the gym, kickboxing!"
Meanwhile, she told PopCulture that she had been teaching kickboxing for six years after enjoying the sport for 12 or 15 years before that, "just for fitness, just for fun. But with teaching there was a certain quality I never really had in my life. No, that's not true because I was a drill team captain too. Okay, so there's always been this bossy quality, strength, power, women in power sort of thing, maybe I just like to yell at people, maybe I was good at that."
Marisa Ramirez was reportedly married at one point in time to Nathan Lavezoli for almost a decade between 2002 and 2011 (via The Daily Mail), but divorced him (per court documents) before she joined the "Blue Bloods" cast. Ramirez is the mother of one child, Violet Rae, who was born May 29, 2016, according to her Twitter. At this point in writing, she has not revealed who the father of her child is, but she often posts pictures of her daughter, who is now in kindergarten, on her Instagram feed.
She's found a second home in New York, where she told People she loves the food, especially Indian food, and the weather: "I mean, it's cold, but I'm liking it," she said.
Although she's far from her California roots right now, she's found a new family in her "Blue Bloods" castmates. Just in Sept. 2021, she and Wahlberg went on The Talk to tell fans that — contrary to what many might hope — they personally don't want to their characters to become a couple because "if they start a relationship they won't have scenes together and then I'll miss my friend," Wahlberg said. But, he added, in response to a question, "We do laugh a lot, and there are times when we do push it a little too far with our laughter outbreaks, but it makes the day so much fun."