Daphne Rubin-Vega was born in Panama City, Panama. She moved to NYC’s Greenwich Village as a child and always wanted to be a singer. Her parents divorced when she was little and her dad stayed in Panama. Her mom remarried an Italian man, she died a few years later, and Daphne was rasied by her stepfather. Daphne says that her last name is a tribute to her real dad (Rubin) and her stepfather (Vega). When she was a teenager, she begged producer Arif Mardin to let her sing on the soundtrack to the movie “Labyrinth.” He obliged and Daphne was off. She became part of the girl group “Pajama Party” which produced two albums. They had a number one club hit with "Yo No Se" and got 3 songs on the top 100 from 1989-1990. After she left the band to write her own songs for the record label Maxi, she joined the Labyrinth theatre company and started performing at Caroline’s Comedy Club with a Latino comedy troop -
El Barrio USA
In 1994, Daphne auditioned for the role of Mimi, a junky S&M dancer, in the New York Theatre Workshop’s RENT. The creator, Jonathon Larson, was very impressed by her audition and declared her “the real thing.” In 1995, Daphne made her Broadway debut as Mimi when RENT went to Broadway. She won a Theatre World Award and was nominated for a Tony and a Drama Desk Award for her performance. She was the first original cast member to leave RENT in 1997 when Polygram’s approached her with a record deal. Her album “Souvenirs” was to be released later that year, but it fell though the cracks when Polygram merged with another record company. Her song hit "I Found It" hit the top of the Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts in 1996 in spite of this.
Since appearing in RENT, Daphne has graced the New York stage in “Gum.” She played a Middle-Eastern girl struggling within the confides of her culture. She was the lead, Sofia, in “Two Sisters and a Piano” which told the story of a pianist under house arrest in Cuba. In 2001, Daphne returned to Broadway as Magenta in “The Rocky Horror Show.” The show was nominated for 4 Tony Awards, but did not win any. She preformed in the off-Broadway “Free To Be You And Me” in 2003. Also that year, she received a Lucille Lortel Best Featured Actress nomination for her role is Canary Mary in “F****** A” at the New York Public Theatre. She feels that these roles helped her grow greatly both as an actress and as a human being
In 2004, Daphne received her second Tony award nomination for her role in “Anna In The Tropics.” Fellow RENT cast member, Idina Menzel, was also nominated for a Tony that year and the two reunited at the ceremony.
Daphne has appeared in many movies including a role as a cop, Gloria Perez, in “Wild Things” for which she won a Blockbuster Award for Best Supporting Actress/Suspense. In 1999, she started as Tia in the movie “Flawless" which also featured her RENT costar Wilson Jermaine Hereida. In 2001, she won an award for Best Actress in a Feature Film for her role as Olya in Skeleton Woman. Most recently, Daphne appeared in “Between Us” for which she wow the first Outstanding Female Performance award given by Rutgers University and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Kean University.Daphne has continued to be active in the music busness as well. In 2003, her version of Elton John's "Rocketman" hit the top of the Hot Dance Music/Club Play charts. She is currently working on her second album - Redemption Songs - and that should be out later this year.
Daphne has been married to lawyer Tommy Costanza since September 2002 and still lives in the New York apartment that she has been in since before the RENT phenomenon. She recently gave birth to her first son (she did not revise her role as Mimi in the RENT movie because she was pregnant at the time of shooting). Since March, Daphne has been starring with Phylicia Rashad in "The House of Bernarda Alba" at the Lincoln Center. RENT celebrated its 10 Anniversay on 4/29/2006, making it the 6th longest running show on Broadway. On 4/24/2006, Daphne and the rest of the original RENT cast came back for a special preformance. The theatre was packed and the night was a huge success!