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Gina Torres (1969- ) is an American actress. She starred in the television shows “Firefly” (2002-2003) and “Cleopatra 2525” (2000-2001), but in general she plays a supporting character in science fiction & fantasy or FBI agent sort of shows, like “Hercules”, “24”, “Alias”, “Standoff” and two of the Matrix films. You can see her now in “FlashForward” which is an FBI science fiction show!  She is tall, pretty and does her own stunts. Oh, and she can sing opera too.

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gina18Those who do not watch those sort of shows might remember her as the wife of Chris Rock in “I Think I Love My Wife” (2007).

Off stage she is the wife of Larry Fishburne, another serious black actor. They married in 2002 and had a daughter, Delilah, in 2007. They live in New Rochelle, New York just north of New York City

She is tall, thin and has beautiful eyes and beautiful lips! Her natural hair seems to be Type 3. She is as tall as a model: 5 foot 10 (1.78 m). And as tall as her husband!

At first I thought she was Nuyorican. She is in fact from New York – she was born in Manhattan and grew up in the Bronx – but her parents came from Cuba, not Puerto Rico. Her father was a newspaper typesetter.

Her parents loved Latin jazz and so did she. She wanted to be a singer – and had talent: she got into La Guardia High School for the Arts in New York. She sang opera, jazz and gospel. She wanted to go to university and had the grades but her parents did not have the money.

So she went to Lincoln Center and did office work hoping to get noticed. She did. That led to stage acting (“Dreamgirls”, “Antigone”, “Blood Wedding” and others) and, in time, to television. From 1995 to 1996 she played Magdelena on the soap opera “One Life to Live”.

She got her start as an action character on “Xena: Warrior Princess” in 1997. She only appeared once, but that led to a regular part on “Hercules” (1998-1999) and then to two seasons of  “Cleopatra 2525” (2000-2001) where she was one of the three main characters. That led to parts on the Matrix films and primetime shows.

Torres:

You have to have a spirit of warrior in you. You’re going to be facing battles as a woman in this industry and a woman of color. You have to be prepared to face battles of respect and pride and sexuality, and you can’t tire of fighting.

How Larry Fishburne won her heart: the Wikipedia says they met on the set of a Matrix film. Not true: they met and dated years before. One of their dates was during the New York blizzard of 1995: all the snow of one winter fell in one day. And they were outside having a snowball fight in Fort Tryon Park! Then they sat down on a bench overlooking the Hudson River. Sitting there knee-deep in snow he pulled out his harmonica and serenaded her.

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SotomayerSonia Sotomayor (1954- ), one of the top judges in New York City, was chosen on May 26th 2009 by Barack Obama for the Supreme Court.

The Senate will hold its hearing, probably in July. Barring any ugly surprises, she is expected to pass easily: Democrats control 59% of the Senate. She would be the first ever Hispanic on the court and the third woman.

Sotomayor has degrees from top universities, Princeton and Yale, and has more experience as a judge than anyone named to the Supreme Court in the past 70 years.

Her views are centre left, well within the mainstream. She is closer to the centre than Obama himself. She will not change the balance on the court since she is taking the place of David Souter, also centre left.

The first female justice, Sandra Day O’Connor, once said a wise old man and a wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. To which Sotomayor said:

I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.

And about being unaffected by her colour:

I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of colour we do a disservice both to the law and to society.

Being Catholic she would make the court two-thirds Catholic – in a country that is mostly Protestant.

Sotomayer has not yet ruled on hot issues like abortion, the death penalty or gay marriage.

The case that is most likely to hurt her is Ricci v DeStefano: the New Haven fire department gave a test for some open positions for captain and lieutenant. When no blacks scored well it threw out the test: otherwise the black firefighters would take it to court for using a racist test. Instead the white ones did, arguing racism the other way. Sotomayor agreed with New Haven.

Sotomayor is Nuyorican – a Puerto Rican who grew up in New York. Her parents came from Puerto Rico to New York in 1944. Her father was a welder, her mother, a nurse. She grew up in the public housing projects of the Bronx (Soundview, Bronxdale Houses, Co-op City). Her family was the only one in the neighbourhood with an encyclopedia (Britannica). By 1964, at age ten, she knew she wanted to go into law like her hero on television, Perry Mason.

She went to Catholic school and then to Princeton on a scholarship. Princeton was like another country. She was in over her head, but she got help and graduated at the top of her class. She went on to Yale to get her law degree and was editor of the law review.  She came back to New York to practise law. In 1992 President Bush, the first one, made her a judge.

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