One of the most vibrant, wonderful people I have ever known.
My dear friend, and a wonderful person, Elizabeth Pena has died Tuesday of natural causes after a brief illness.
I met Elizabeth after partnering in a business venture in 1996 and we remained friends. Surely, there will be numerous eulogies for this wonderful woman, so my humble addition needn't be long;
Elizabeth embodied the strong but compassionate person so many people aspire to be. From humble beginnings and getting the shortest end of the stick so many times, personally and professionally, Elizabeth never gave up on humanity. She continued to see the best in people, trust people from the outset, and give far more than she took from those around her.
She was one of the most talented actresses I knew, and truly never hit her peak. Every performance was literally better than the last. Never using her ethnicity, and never shunning the risk of stereotype, Elizabeth was a consummate professional, and those who worked with her, bar none, will attest to this ethic.
A mother, daughter, sister, wife, and friend to so many, Elizabeth will be missed beyond words.
Thank you Elizabeth, for sharing a slice of your life with me.
Excerpt from the CNN press release:
Among her many roles, Pena is known for appearing as the mother of a character played by Sofia Vergara
in the ABC sitcom "Modern Family."
She's played on both the big and small screens during her more than three-decade career. She also tried her hand at directing, becoming only the fourth Latina member of the Director's Guild of America when she joined, the statement said.
Other career highlights include roles in "Down and Out in Beverly Hills," "La Bamba," "Rush Hour," and "The Incredibles."
Most recently, Pena appeared in the TV drama "Matador."
"I am stunned and heartbroken, just found out about the passing of my friend Elizabeth Pena. She was such a Life Force it's hard to believe," tweeted actor Lou Diamond Phillips, who starred in "La Bamba."
"Elizabeth was not only an amazing actress, she was one of the most vibrant, wonderful people I have ever known. My prayers to her family," he said.
Pena was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and she graduated from New York's High School of Performing Arts in 1977.
She is survived by her mother, a sister, her husband, and two children.