Dascha Polanco is a Dominican American actress, best known for playing the character Dayanara Diaz on Orange Is the New Black.
Polanco was born in the Dominican Republic and moved to the United States at a young age. She was raised in Brooklyn and Miami by her father Rubén Darío Polanco, a mechanic, and mother Janet Polanco, a cosmetologist.
Polanco aspired to be an actress from an early age but "always doubted auditioning because of [her] weight", and so she completed a bachelor's degree in psychology at Hunter College. After college she began working in the healthcare industry with the intention to become a nurse. She was working as a hospital administrator at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx, while studying nursing, when her fiancé encouraged her to pursue acting again and paid for her registration with an acting studio as a gift. She attended BIH Studios in New York, which is where she was signed by the talent agency Shirley Grant Management. Her first acting credits were minor parts on the television series Unforgettable and NYC 22...
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