Debi Mazar life and biography

Debi Mazar picture, image, poster

Debi Mazar biography

Date of birth : 1964-08-13
Date of death : -
Birthplace : Jamaica, Queens, New York
Nationality : American
Category : Arts and Entertainment
Last modified : 2011-08-19
Credited as : Actress, Entourage ,

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Debi Mazar is an American actress, perhaps best known for her trademark Jersey Girl-type appearances, and as edgy, sharp-tongued women in independent films and her recurring role on the HBO series Entourage as Shauna Roberts.

Mazar was born in Jamaica, Queens, New York, the daughter of Nancy and Harry Mazar. Her father was born in the Latvian SSR, Soviet Union, from a Jewish family, but raised in the Roman Catholic Church. She had no knowledge of this ancestral ethnic heritage until her twenties. Her mother was raised a Roman Catholic, briefly converted to Judaism, then became a Buddhist, and later joined Jehovah's Witnesses until she was excommunicated for taking a blood transfusion.

As a child, Debi Mazar was exposed to a remarkable diversity of faiths as her parents struggled to find spiritual satisfaction from different religions. According to Mazar, her mother "was born Catholic, converted to Judaism, then she became a Buddhist, then she became a Jehovah's Witness. Then she was kicked out of Jehovah's Witness for taking a blood transfusion." Her father's religious past was equally complex; born Jewish, he had spent World War II passing as a Catholic to escape Nazi anti-Semitism. "It was a big secret which I didn't find out until I was in my 20s," Debi Mazar says. She also says that this early exposure to a myriad of religious influences later prevented her from latching onto any of the spiritual trends that periodically sweep Hollywood. "I could never be pushed into something," she says. "It's just not my thing. But I think if people find happiness in it, then good for them!"

Instead of attending college, Mazar moved out of her house at the age of 18, taking with her little more than a taste for excitement and a vague notion of making it in the world of show business. At first, she took any employment she could find, working as a sales clerk, nightclub bouncer and even dental assistant—a job for which she had no training. "I've had a huge variety of jobs," Mazar says. "I had a friend who was a dentist who wouldn't hire me but gave me, like, all the dialogue I needed and I basically auditioned for [another] dentist ... On my first day on the job, he said, 'Hand me the ... ' whatever it was, and I said, 'The picker'? He realized I didn't know what I was talking about." At the same time, she became a fixture of the 1980s New York club scene and befriended an up-and-coming pop star named Madonna. Soon she found herself employed as Madonna's makeup artist, making cameo appearances in late-80s music videos for Madonna songs such as "True Blue" and "Justify My Love."

Those music video appearances sparked Mazar's interest in acting; while still working as Madonna's make-up artist, she began taking acting classes. Then, with no acting experience to her name save a handful of music videos and an uncredited appearance as a dancer in a 1984 TV movie called Graffiti Rock, she landed a role in Martin Scorsese's landmark 1990 mob film Goodfellas. Mazar earned wide acclaim for her portrayal of Ray Liotta's junkie mistress and almost instantly became typecast as a New York tough girl.

It wasn't until 1990, however, that Mazar made her film debut as the cokehead girlfriend of Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) in Martin Scorsese's GoodFellas. After portraying a series of small but indelible characters in Oliver Stone's The Doors, Spike Lee's Jungle Fever, and Jodie Foster's Little Man Tate (all 1991), Mazar had developed a small but devoted following and a reputation solid enough to land her the tough-talking role of legal defense secretary Denise Iannello on ABC's legal drama Civil Wars (1991-1993), a role she would reprise for NBC's L.A. Law in 1994.

After taking on several more tiny supporting parts throughout the early '90s, including one which would reunite her with Jungle Fever director Spike Lee (in the Oscar-winning Malcolm X [1992]), Mazar made her debut as a lead character in Money for Nothing (1993), a blue-collar crime comedy co-starring John Cusack, with whom she would work for a second time in Woody Allen's Bullets Over Broadway (1994). After a brief performance as a manicurist in television's Witch Hunt (1994), Mazar could be found in the role of a femme fatale alongside Drew Barrymore, Jim Carrey, and Val Kilmer in Batman Forever (1995), and would portray an idealistic HIV-positive thief in Red Ribbon Blues (1995). Red Ribbon Blues wasn't the last time Mazar would delve into the complex world of sex and gender-related prejudice -- in 1996's Girl 6, Mazar co-starred as an anonymous member of a phone sex business, while Things I Never Told You found her playing a transsexual. Shortly afterward, Mazar chewed a respectable amount of scenery as one of Long Island barfly Tommy's (Steve Buscemi) potential hook-ups in 1996's Trees Lounge. The actress continued to exhibit her versatility in a series of roles during 1997, including those of a sleazy television show producer in Meet Wally Sparks, an intergalactic waitress in Space Truckers, and two decidedly more serious performances in the gay & lesbian drama Nowhere and Nick Cassavetes' romantic drama She's So Lovely.


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