Growing up in Puerto Rico as a child, Lymari Nadal was always encouraged by her parents to dedicate her life to a field where a job was a guaranteed result of hard work. Acting – or anything artistic for that matter – was simply never an option.

“I came from a place where they told me when I was very small that people are born artists,” Nadal, 30, said during a phone interview. “There was never talk of music or movies or anything like that.”

With a more practical mindset, Nadal went to college and earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry. Her natural interest in the arts, however, kept her attending a few acting classes at the University of Puerto Rico and joining a theater company in San Juan after graduation.

“As I got older, I learned that people aren’t born anything,” Nadal said. “People are born babies and that’s it. I started feeding my curiosity and found an amazing world in acting.”

Nadal’s curiosity for acting turned out to be more than just a phase. In 2001, she moved to Los Angeles to see what kind of opportunities she could get as a Hollywood newcomer. Roles started coming slowly as Nadal earned bit parts on the TV shows “American Family” and “Battlestar Galactica.” She also starred in the independent film “Thieves and Liars” opposite Cuban actor Steven Bauer (“Traffic”).

“When I was in college I absolutely loved chemistry,” Nadal said. “But in acting, you use your imagination, mind, emotions, and humanity much more. So, I decided to dedicate my life to something different.”

In 2007, Nadal, who is the wife of veteran actor and Academy Award-nominee Edward James Olmos (“Stand and Deliver”), got an early break in her career when she was offered a role in Ridley Scott’s film “American Gangster” with Oscar winners Denzel Washington (“Training Day”) and Russell Crowe (“Gladiator”). It was an experience, Nadal says, that felt positive right from the beginning.

“I got the script and loved the story and loved the people involved,” Nadal said. “The experience going to work every morning with Ridley and Denzel and Russell and Ruby Dee was surreal. They are so masterful at what they do. They were so kind with me. I really enjoyed the process.”

Although she has not lined up her next film for 2008, Nadal is looking forward to auditioning for more roles and proving to everyone that her decision to make a career change was the correct one.

“I’m not taking anything for granted,” Nadal said. “I want to work very hard and get more opportunities to do what I love.”

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