“Food is a necessity not luxury; feeding a fellow neighbor will only build a healthier community."
Independent, driven, and a mother of two, Dascha Polanco is well known for her groundbreaking roles in Hollywood as a leading young Latina actress. Polanco is recognized for her role as “Dayanara Diaz” on the hit Netflix original series, “Orange is the New Black” (OITNB). The two-time SAG Award-winning and Golden Globe-nominated show is currently in
production for its fifth season, scheduled to release this summer.
Recently, the SAG Award-winning actress co-starred in the 20th Century Fox film, “JOY”, directed by David O. Russell opposite Jennifer Lawrence as her best friend in the film. In the Golden Globe-nominated film, Polanco played “Jackie,”Joy’s best friend and was one of the only Latinas to work alongside the award-winning director/actors of “Silver Linings Playbook.” In addition, Polanco recently starred in “The Perfect Match” (2016) for director Bille Woodru and producer Queen Latifah. Polanco also landed her first lead film role in Adrian Martinez’s indie dark comedy “iCreep,” scheduled to release this upcoming year. Polanco has also starred in Tom McCarthy’s “The Cobbler” with Adam Sandler (2015) and made her big screen debut opposite Vanessa Hudgens and Rosario Dawson in the dramatic independent flick, “GIMME SHELTER.”
Born in the Dominican Republic and raised in Brooklyn by way of Miami, Polanco is the eldest daughter of a mechanic and a cosmetologist. Polanco’s personal story of losing her mother, becoming a single teen mom, and struggling with self-confidence has captivated the hearts of the public. She continues to use her influential platform to help others in need, promoting and flourishing her mission of “Self Lovery.”
Polanco first received her big break in “OITNB” while attending classes for nursing at LIU and working as a Central Sterile Manager/Surgical Tech in two New York City hospitals. Since then, in addition to numerous film and TV roles, Polanco has been featured as the face of Old Navy’s national Spanish commercial campaign. Last year, she became part of the NFL's 2015/2016 Women’s Apparel campaign, representing the New York Giants and the Latino community.
Her achievements have been recognized by numerous awards, including the ALMA Awards, HOLA Awards, and The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (Lupe Award). Huffington Post recognized her as one of the Latinas to be "Breaking The Mold,” and The Hollywood Reporter named her one of the 40 Young Latino Powerhouses in Hollywood. Dascha also enjoys spending her time traveling the world, completing missions to help children in need, such as her most recent trip to Haiti. She is on the Board of Directors for the Starfish Foundation, which provides financial support to hardworking young women in need of the resources necessary to succeed. In addition, she has partnered up with the DREAM Project Foundation in the Dominican Republic to open up the first theater and arts programs for children in the country.