Valeria has made a name for herself ever since her featured role in the film Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit; along with Whoopi Goldberg, she co-wrote the song “Pay Attention” for the film’s soundtrack. She’s also recorded two other songs featured on movie soundtracksâ€š “Rhythm of the Night” for Moulin Rouge and “Ooh La La” for Legally Blonde. Her breakthrough dance single “Girl I Told Ya” made its splash on the hit TV series Gossip Girl. Her video for “Girl I Told Ya”, which looks like it takes place on the set of Marie Antoinette, was shot by noted video director Marc Webb on location in Hungary.
Her best-known movie role was the amorous Wendy in Just Married, played alongside Ashton Kutcher. Valeria’s other acting credits include a recurring role in the PBS series American Family, alongside Edward James Olmos, Esai Morales, Paul Rodriguez, Rita Moreno, and Raquel Welch. She co-hosted a whole season of the “Idol”-like Next Big Star talent competition show with Ed McMahon, and more recently Valeria guest-starred on the ABC sitcoms Freddie and The George Lopez Show.
Valeria’s real-life story is the stuff of old Hollywood movies. She was born and raised in Sydney, Australia. Her father was Australian and her mother is from Montevideo, Uruguay. Her parents married within two weeks of meeting, and not being able to speak each other’s languages, divorced soon after. Valeria began singing at the age of three, busking during the days on weekends while competing in talent contests at night, before moving on to appear in Falstaff at the Sydney Opera House and later starring in the lead role of Annie.
Eleven year old Valeria and her father boarded a plane to Hollywood two nights after Annie closed. They rented a single apartment up the street from Hollywood and Vine and for the next five years hit the Venice boardwalk every weekend with a boom-box and a coffee can to sing for their supper. Valeria remembers, “One of the only times I took the weekend off was when I appeared on The Gong Show. I had to lie about my age and give a fake name, but I won $720, a hairdryer and a yearâ€™s worth of Ragu spaghetti sauce. We were deperado for that chunk of change.”
“My dad thought it would be more like the movies and we would be right alongside all the other sparkly starlets. Instead, nobody in our building, or anyone else in the hood at the time, seemed to be either singing or dancing — more like druggin’ and ho-in’. Our only view was of the halfway house next door. We worked everyday, whether it was cold-calling or circling the open-call ads. My dad kept me out of school for a long time before we were caught. We had convinced ourselves that I was close to hitting it big and weâ€™d move to Beverly Hills and Iâ€™d get a tutor,” she laughs. Persistence landed her a leading role in Alan & Marilyn Bergmanâ€™s Musical Revue How Do You Keep The Music Playing at The Santa Monica Coast Playhouse, and she played naval bases for the USO, eventually signing to Motown Records as part of a girl group at the age of 14.
After a few years and a very bumpy ride, Valeria ran away from home and her father was later deported. Valeria became a ward of the court, and rented rooms in homes until she was 18. She co-wrote and recorded songs for New Line Cinema’s Poison Ivy 2 and for a time sang in Kyoto, Japan, six nights a week, four shows a night so that back in Los Angeles she could produce a demo package for the record companies. The resulting six minute EPK made the major label rounds and after several months of negotiation, Interscope Records mogul Jimmy Iovine and Warner Chappell Publishing edged out the others and Valeria’s recording career was underway.
“Iâ€™ve released my first album ! â€œFRESHLY SQUEEZED” is out, Alleluia !” exclaims Valeria (available for download on AmazonMP3, iTunes and other major digital online retailers). This energetic pop record features the work of famed producers Dave Aude, Space Cowboy, and Madd Scientist, and you can include Lady Gaga as one of the many star collaborators.
Valeria’s inspiration came from putting up a MySpace page (myspace.com/valeria, you’re lookin’ at it !).
“For the first time, I was in direct contact with people who have made up dance routines to my soundtrack songs or have practiced “Pay Attention” in their singing classes or at the very least have seen me kiss Ashton Kutcher in Just Married,” she laughs. “Their MySpace pages are yummy. Full of girly fun and positive energy, and that’s what inspired me to come up with the concept for “Girl, I Told Yaâ€. After that, Freshly Squeezed was put together as an ongoing tribute to all of that loveliness.”
â€œIâ€™m happy. Iâ€™ve released Freshly Squeezed and my own label stampâ€™s going on it, â€œPink Lips Records.â€ There’s nothing like singing or dancing along to your favorite song. I do it all day long. It thrills me to death to think that maybe someoneâ€™s smiling and singing at the top of their lungs WITH me.â€