Born on April 18, 1967, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, Maria Bello has forged a highly successful acting career, landing a role in E.R. before going on to star in big-screen works like Permanent Midnight (1998) and Coyote Ugly (2000). She earned further acclaim for parts in The Cooler (2003) and A History of Violence (2005), winning a NY Films Critic Circle Award for the latter. Bello is also a global humanitarian. In 2013, she revealed in a New York Times piece that she was happily in a relationship with another woman.
Maria Elana Bello was born on April 18, 1967, in Norristown, Pennsylvania, to Kathy and Joe Bello. Growing up in a blue-collar household, she attended Villanova University with the thought that she would pursue a career in human rights law, inspired by the example of her professorial mentor, Father Ray Jackson. Yet upon taking her first acting class as a junior, she fell in love with the craft, and her mentor encouraged Bello to follow her passion.
Role in 'E.R.'
Bello did Off-Broadway work for a while before landing a television spot as a corporate spy in 1996's Mr. and Mrs. Smith, alongside Scott Bakula. She garnered major attention with the short-lived role, next starring for a season as pediatrician Anna Del Amico on NBC's popular hospital drama E.R. (1994-09).
Prolific Film Career
Bello's big-screen debut came in the form of the 1998 Ben Stiller drama Permanent Midnight; in the first decade of the new millennium Bello would be featured in film after film, with her work often earning distinguished recognition from critics.
Some of the highlights are 2003's romantically laced The Cooler, where Bello played a cocktail waitress who falls for a hard-on-his-luck gambler (William H. Macy); 2005's A History of Violence—from director David Cronenberg and starring Viggo Mortensen—where Bello portrayed a wife under siege from her husband's past, for which she earned a New York Film Critics Circle award and a Golden Globe nomination; and 2009's The Private Lives of Pippa Lee, where Bello was part of an ensemble cast focusing on the story of a woman (Robin Wright) reconnecting with her lost self.
Other projects included China: The Panda Adventure (2001), Secret Window (2004), World Trade Center (2006), Towelhead (2008) and The Yellow Handkerchief (2010).
Returns to TV
The end of the decade saw Bello co-starring in the ensemble summer comedy Grown Ups (2010), also taking part in its sequel three years later. In 2011, Bello returned to television to star in a U.S. remake of Prime Suspect, the acclaimed Helen Mirren British series, with the domestic version lasting for one season. Bello next starred for a time in the Kiefer Sutherland drama Touch (2012-13).
In 2013, she appeared as a distraught mother in the abduction film Prisoners and also commenced filming on the indie DJ drama Strings, which co-stars Lucas Till and Josh Duhamel.
Though following her heart as a thespian, Bello followed through on her activism vision, helping to establish the DreamYard Drama Project for youth in the Bronx and doing vital work for women and families in Darfur and Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Writing on Bello's activism can be found on her own personal blog as well as on The Huffington Post at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/maria-bello/.
In 2013, Bello also wrote an intimate piece for The New York Times about her romantic relationship. In the piece, entitled "Coming Out as a Modern Family," Bello described the conversation she had with her 12-year-old son about who she had been dating, after he inquired about it. She described in detail how she met her partner, Clare, and how their relationship blossomed, which was followed by the love and support of her son. In addition to her son, Bello received waves of support following her revealing op-ed piece. She went on to write a book published in 2015, Whatever...Love Is Love: Questioning the Labels We Give Ourselves, which calls for people to have a more expansive and fluid view of relationships, both romantic and platonic.
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