Talisa Soto (born March 27, 1967) is an American model and actress of Puerto Rican descent.
Soto was born Miriam Soto in Brooklyn, New York, where her parents moved to from Puerto Rico in the 1950s. Her parents relocated to Northampton, Massachusetts when she was still just a child. Soto’s family was one of the few Puerto Rican families that resided in her neighborhood. She was raised and educated there, but she felt that people were prejudiced against her and she became a loner.
Soto landed her first modeling job in 1982, when she was fifteen years old. In 1985, she tried to sign up with the Ford modeling agency, but was rejected because she looked “too” Latina. Soto then went and signed with Click Model Management and headed for Europe. (On a side note: Frances Grill, who owns Click, thought the name Miriam sounded too old for her. So they decided to call her Lisa, but sometimes when she called the agency she was put on hold. Her booker would say, “tell Lisa I will be right with her,” after this happened a few times; “tell Lisa, tell Lisa,” her name evolved into: Talisa.)
She established herself as one of the top models of the 1980s and was busy modeling in Italy and France. She appeared on the covers of Vogue, British Elle, British Vogue (Photographed by Lord Snowdon) Mademoiselle, Glamour, and Self magazines. She also appeared in her first music video with former boyfriend Nick Kamen, Madonna’s “Each Time You Break My Heart”, directed by Tony Viramontes. Soto and Kamen were often used as modeles by Ray Petri: the late fashion stylist and creator of the 80’s London “Buffalo Boy” look.
In 1988, when Soto returned to the United States, she auditioned and landed the role of “India” in her feature debut, Spike of Bensonhurst, a comedy which starred Sasha Mitchell and Ernest Borgnine. In 1989, she was cast as Lupe Lamora, in the James Bond movie Licence to Kill starring Timothy Dalton and as Maria Rivera in The Mambo Kings.
Soto has participated in more than 20 movies, among which are: Mortal Kombat (1995) as Kitana; Island of the Dead as Melissa O’Keefe; Pinero (2001) as Sugar, starring Benjamin Bratt; and Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever (2002) as Ryne alongside Lucy Lui and Antonio Banderas. Soto also made two guest appearances on the television series C-16: FBI. In 1995, she played the role of Doña Julia, one of Johnny Depp’s many love interests in the tongue-in-cheek romantic comedy Don Juan DeMarco, Depp playing the title role. She also made an appearance in Marc Anthony’s music video for I Need to Know. In 1996 Soto played the title role in the campy movie Vampirella based on the comic book character.
In 1990, Soto was chosen by People magazine as one of the 50 Most Beautiful People in the World. In 1995, she was featured in the Sports Illustrated “Swimsuit Issue”. She was ranked #58 on the Maxim Hot 100 Women of 2002.
During the 80s, Soto resided both in London and New York City with Nick Kamen. In 1997, Soto married Costas Mandylor and they were divorced in 2000. She met actor Benjamin Bratt while the two were filming Pinero and they were married on April 13, 2002. The couple has two children: daughter Sophia Rosalinda Bratt, born December 6, 2002, and a son, Mateo Bravery Bratt, born October 3, 2005. They reside in Los Angeles, California.