Skip to main content
Eva Mendes
Donato Sardella/Getty Images for New York & Company

Eva Mendes

Biography
Actor, Model (1974–)
  • Publish date:
American actress Eva Mendes is known for movies such as 'Training Day,' 'Hitch' and 'The Place Beyond the Pines.' She is also a designer and has two children with actor Ryan Gosling.

Who Is Eva Mendes?

Eva Mendes's big breakthrough came playing Denzel Washington's mistress in the film Training Day (2001). Her other hits include Stuck on You (2003) and Hitch (2005). She has been the face of numerous advertisements for companies including Revlon and Calvin Klein.

How Old Is Eva Mendes?

Eva Mendes was born Eva de la Caridad Mendez on March 5, 1974, in Miami, Florida. She is the youngest of four children born to Cuban émigrés Eva Perez Suarez and Carlos Mendez. She used Mendes as a stage name for her acting career.

Early Life

When Mendes was young, her family moved to Los Angeles and settled in the city's Silver Lake neighborhood. Her parents divorced when she was around 10 years old.

Mendes's working-class family struggled to make ends meet at times. Her mother, who worked in accounting, had a weekend job at Grauman's Chinese Theatre, where Mendes sometimes tagged along, and her father made his living in meat distribution.

Mendes studied marketing at California State University, Northridge. But her career path changed after a neighbor's photographs of her drew the interest of a manager.

Success as an Actress

Mendes decided to try her hand at acting, initially assuming she could make money over the summer. She was hired for music videos, but had less luck in other auditions. At one point, a commercial casting director told her she was "too ethnic…to be the face of any American product."

This bigotry didn't deter Mendes. In the same interview, she said, "I have fond memories of that moment now, because that woman actually provided me with the fuel I needed, so I used it as a challenge, to give me that fire or extra kick I needed to break through."

Making the straight-to-video Children of the Corn V: Fields of Terror (1998) boosted Mendes's interest in acting. She said in 2008, "Going in, I had no plans to make a career of it. But I realized that I was a terrible actress, and it started to seem like the right kind of challenge for me to pursue. I thought I could really do something with it."

Mendes turned to an acting coach for guidance, then had a breakthrough role in Training Day as Denzel Washington's mistress. Her subsequent films include Out of Time (2003), Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003), the comedy Stuck on You and 2 Fast 2 Furious (2003). She was part of a huge hit when she portrayed Will Smith's love interest in the romantic comedy Hitch.

Mendes acted opposite Joaquin Phoenix in the thriller We Own the Night (2007) and with Nicolas Cage in Ghost Rider (2007). She was part of Frank Miller's The Spirit (2008) and joined an ensemble of talented actresses to remake The Women (2008).

Around 2009, Mendes decided it was time to take a new approach to acting. She later explained, "I started feeling extremely empty and unsatisfied with the work that I was putting out there. So I made a change to do what I actually want to do."

In this phase of her career, Mendes was directed by Werner Herzog on the noir Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009) and showed a flair for comedy in The Other Guys (2010). She also drew attention in the independent film Last Night (2011) and in the unique Holy Motors (2012).

In The Place Beyond the Pines, Mendes played a down-on-her-luck waitress who was the romantic interest for Ryan Gosling's character. After the movie filmed in 2011, the pair began appearing in public as a couple. They worked together again in Lost River (2014), which was written and directed by Gosling and starred Mendes.

Scroll to Continue

READ NEXT

Representative Deb Haaland, a Democrat from New Mexico, speaks during a House Natural Resources Committee hearing in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Monday, June 29, 2020. The hearing is titled "U.S. Park Police Attack on Peaceful Protesters at Lafayette Square Park." Photographer: Bonnie Cash/The Hill/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Deb Haaland

LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM - NOVEMBER 09: John Major attends the annual Remembrance Sunday Service at the Cenotaph on Whitehall on November 9, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. People across the UK gather to pay tribute to service personnel who have died in the two World Wars and subsequent conflicts, with this year taking on added significance as it is the centenary of the outbreak of World War One. (Photo by Chris Jackson/Getty Images)

John Major

Personal Life

In January 2008, Mendes entered a rehab facility. At the time, her representatives stated she had "made a positive decision to take some much-needed time off to proactively attend to some personal issues that, while not critical, she felt deserved some outside professional support."

Mendes has never shared what type of treatment she sought. This reflects her consistent desire to keep the media and the public separate from her private life.

Partner and Children

Mendes has been in a relationship with Ryan Gosling, her The Place Beyond the Pines co-star, since 2011. The pair have been circumspect about sharing details of their life together. Though some reports said they met on set, they actually knew each other for years beforehand. It was Gosling who suggested casting Mendes to the film's director.

In a 2019 interview, Mendes said she wasn't sure about having children until she met Gosling. "It made sense for me to have…not kids, but his kids. It was very specific to him." The pair share two daughters: Esmeralda Amada (born in 2014; her first name was inspired by a Victor Hugo novel) and Amada Lee (born in 2016; her first name belonged to Mendes's grandmother).

Mendes tries to maintain as much privacy for her children as possible and does not post their pictures on social media. She grew up speaking Spanish and English and is raising her daughters to be bilingual as well.

In 2016, reports said Mendes and Gosling tied the knot, but sources denied it to People magazine.

Before her romance with Gosling, Mendes was in an eight-year relationship with music producer and design entrepreneur George Augusto.

Designer and Entrepreneur

Mendes had a dinnerware line at Macy's called Vida by Eva Mendes.

In 2013, Mendes signed a deal with New York & Company to design and promote a clothing line known as Eva by Eva Mendes. Her line has expanded to include plus sizes and jewelry.

While cleaning during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mendes became a fan of the sponge brand Skura Style. Her interest led to her becoming a co-owner of the company and a brand ambassador.

Why Did Eva Mendes Stop Acting?

Mendes took a step back from acting to focus on her children, though she continued her design work. She said of the decision, "I applaud and look up to those women who can do it all, but I'm not one of them, and, thankfully, I have a choice not to work, and I realize how fortunate I am that it's even a choice."

Mendes did voice a character in an episode of the animated series "Bluey," a favorite of her daughters. And she stated in 2019, "Now I can feel my ambition coming back to me slowly as my children are no longer babies."

However, she has also specified that being a parent has altered the type of projects she'll do. "I won't do most of the movies I've done in the past.… I don't want to do anything too violent. Of course, I don't want to do anything too sexual or sexual at all."

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!

Tags: