One of Mexico’s most acclaimed actresses, Lumi Cavazos first grabbed the attention of U.S. critics and filmgoers with her portrayal of Tita, the heroine of Alfonso Arau’s celebrated 1993 adaptation of Laura Esquivel’s Como Agua para Chocolate. The star of numerous Mexican films, Cavazos has also done a fair amount of work in the States, appearing in such independent dramas as Sugar Town.
Born in Monterey, Northern Mexico, in 1969, Cavazos was raised the youngest of nine children. She began her acting career at the age of 15, performing with an avant-garde theater company in Guadalajara for three years. Cavazos made her film debut in Busi Cortes’ 1988 El Secreto de Romalia and again worked with the director when she starred in Serpientes y escaleras (1992). Cavazos’ true breakthrough came courtesy of her portrayal of Tita, a young woman who expresses her love and passion through her cooking in Como Agua para Chocolate. In addition to winning her Best Actress awards at the Tokyo Film Festival and Brazil’s Festival de Gramado, the film also provided Cavazos with an introduction to co-star Marco Leonardi, whose role as her onscreen love interest soon crossed over into real life.
Cavazos did more work in her native country, but eventually relocated to Los Angeles. After her arrival she starred in the independent drama Land of Milk and Honey (1995) and had a supporting role as the hotel maid who falls for Luke Wilson in Wes Anderson’s celebrated independent comedy Bottle Rocket (1996). Continuing to work in Mexico in such films as Viva San Isidro (1995) and Fibre Optica (1998), Cavazos was also visible in such stateside dramas as Allison Anders’ and Kurt Voss’ Sugar Town (1999), which cast her as a Latina singer,and in 2000 moved into the mainstream film arena with a part as a nun in Bless the Child, a supernatural thriller also starring Kim Basinger, Rufus Sewall, and Sir Ian Holm.