Alba Villanueva in “Jane The Virgin”
In The CW’s Golden Globe-nominated comedy series “Jane The Virgin,” Ivonne Coll stars as Alba, Jane’s (Gina Rodriguez) tough as nails, but loving grandmother and finally a U.S. citizen.
People’s Choice Award winner and Golden Globe nominee Ivonne Coll is a theater, television, and film actress from Fajardo, Puerto Rico where as a child she trained in classical ballet and flamenco dance with Walter Mercado. This marked her artistic debut at age six with Mercado’s Baby Ballet company for the American soldiers in the Ramey Naval Base in Ceiba, Puerto Rico.
Coll’s first film was “The Godfather Part II.” Director Francis Ford Coppola was looking for a night club act for the film while looking for locations in Puerto Rico. After meeting Ivonne Coll he decided to create the role of the Red-Headed Yolanda so she could have her first film credit.
In the 1960s while she was a psychology student at The University of Puerto Rico, she was working part time as a Haute Couture runway fashion model for top designers, and in 1967, she won the title of Ms. Puerto Rico to represent the island in the Miss Universe contest.
The early ‘70s were the beginning of Coll’s singing and dancing career performing at such iconic places as “The Ocho Puertas” and the “Puerto Rico Sheraton,” among others. In 1972, she was the first Puerto Rican singer to perform in Vietnam as part of the USO Tour Puerto Rico Sings.
From 1972 to 1974, she starred in a one-hour variety show called “Una Chica Llamada Ivonne Coll” (A Girl named Ivonne Coll) produced by Telecadena Perez-Perry. In it, she hosted stars such as Celia Cruz, Armando Manzanero and Mauricio Garces among many others.
In 1975, she relocated to Los Angeles to study at The Academy of Stage and Cinema Arts with David Alexander and Bob Ellenstein. She also trained in Musical Theater with David Craig and Comedy with Lucille Ball. Coll moved to New York City to continue her training at HB Studios and with Lee Strasberg and as a working observer at The Actors Studio.
In 1980, The Puerto Rican Traveling Theater gave Coll first Union job. That same year she made her Broadway debut with the play “Goodbye Fidel” starring Jane Alexander.
In 1987, Ms. Coll starred in “Cuqui a Woman Like You,” a half an hour sitcom produced by WAPA TV in Puerto Rico.
She was a member of the Joseph Papp’s NY Shakespeare Festival Players performing at the Public Theater, Shakespeare in the Park and The Belasco Theater on Broadway playing Lady Macbeth in “Macbeth,” Rosalind in “As you Like It” and the nurse in “Romeo & Juliet,” directed by Estelle Parsons. Other Broadway credits include the Tony Award-nominated Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ “Chronicle of a Death Foretold” produced by The Lincoln Center directed by Graciela Daniele.
Regional Theater performances include playing the title role in “Mother Courage” at Berkley Repertory Theater and La Jolla Playhouse. Other regional work includes Chicago’s Goodman Theater, Princeton’s McCarter Theater, Mark Tapper Forum, San Diego Rep, Arizona Theater Company and San Jose Rep Theater. In 2018, Coll played the lead role in “The Madres” by Stephanie Alison Walker at Teatro Vista in Chicago.
Awards received include the People’s Choice Award (“Jane The Virgin”), TCA’s Outstanding Achievement in Youth Programming (“Switched at Birth”), The National Association of Latino Independent Producers (NALIP) Lifetime Achievement Award, Eternity Award Los Angeles Women’s Theater Festival, ACE Award NY Hispanic Media (“Orinoco”), Puerto Rico International Short Film Festival Best Actress (“De Pura Cepa”), Craig Noel Award for Outstanding Performance San Diego Critics Circle (Adoration of the Old Woman), and Agueybana de Oro Best Supporting Actress (Coralito). Award nominations include Golden Globe (Jane The Virgin/Ensemble), Chicago’s Jefferson Award as Best Supporting Actress for “Electricidad,” and Best Actress for “Mother Courage” by the San Francisco Bay Area Critics Circle.
Film credits include “Lean on Me,” “Instinct,” “La Gran Fiesta,” “Counterpunch,” “De Pura Cepa,” “The Apostate,” “Death In Granada,” “In Too Deep,” “Endgame,” “The Pest,” “Hemingway & Gellhorn,” “Waking The Dead,” among many others.
Short Films leading roles include “A Rainy Day” (Universal) and “From Now On” (True Form Film.) The award-winning (Best Overall Romance Story, Rincon International Film Festival) “From Now On” marks her debut as a director, writer and a producer.
Coll other television credits include “Switched at Birth,” “Teen Wolf,” Glee,” “East Los High,” “Nip Tuck,” “An American Family,” “Six Feet Under,” “NYPD Blue,” “The Practice,” “ER,” “Heroes,” “Crossing Jordan,” “Judging Amy,” “Saturday Night Live,” “Cold Case,” “Joan of Arcadia,” “LA Law,” “Wings,” “Without a Trace,” “CSI,” “One Day at a Time” and “Being There.” Animation work includes “Elena of Avalor” and “Fancy Nancy.”