June 13, 1965
Whitestone, New York, United States
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A striking, dark-haired actress of Puerto Rican descent, New York City native Lisa Vidal began acting in repertory theater at age 14 and was cast the following year in the PBS series "Oye Willie" (1980-81), jump-starting a long and varied acting career, most often playing grounded professionals balancing work and family. A small role in the 1984 comedy "Delivery Boys" marked Vidal's feature debut. In 1986 she played the charming housekeeper for a good-natured elderly heiress (Loretta Young) in the NBC holiday TV-movie tearjerker "Christmas Eve." The late 1980s saw the actress busy on the small screen with guest roles on such wildly popular series as "The Cosby Show" and "Miami Vice" (both NBC). Determined to take roles that reflected the diversity of the Latino community while at the same time building it up, Vidal acted in the two "ABC Afterschool Special" educational presentations "Class Act: A Teacher's Story" (1987) and "In the Shadow of Love: A Teen AIDS Story" (1991).Though television would remain her primary medium, in the 90s, Vidal saw her film career begin to take off, with a part in the 1992 remake "Night and the City" and a significant supporting role in the engaging slice-of-life comedy-drama "I Like It Like That" (1994). Working primarily in small independent features wouldn't land Vidal on the cover of major magazines, but the actress did good work, including her appearance in 1997's "Fall." A 1994-95 recurring role on "New York Undercover" (Fox), playing the sister of Michael DeLorenzo's NYC police detective widened her audience, which would grow even more in 1995 when she was featured on two episodes of ABC's "The Commish," playing a Manhattan cop who joins forces with the suburban commissioner (Michael Chiklis) in order to solve a crime. Though the potential spin-off went nowhere, Vidal was soon cast as cocky Jessica Helgado in the critically-lauded police drama "High Incident," a Steven Spielberg production aired on ABC. Though the show won many devoted fans and got good write ups across the board, "High Incident" couldn't capture an audience big enough to keep it on the air, and ceased production after a brief 1996-1997 run. Such stop and starts weren't foreign to Vidal, who would face some more in her career, including the short-lived sitcom "The Brian Benben Show" (CBS) in 1998. Her dependable performances in TV-movies kept the actress ahead of the game even when series were pulled out from under her. Her turns in the 1997 CBS miniseries "Ken Follett's The Third Twin" and the somewhat shaky ABC remake "The Taking of Pelham One Two Three" (1998) were solid, as were her 1998 entries in the Showtime noir series "Naked City."While Vidal was a capable portrayer of characters of all types, in the late 90s an interesting shift toward exceptionally powerful but merciful roles was apparent. She modernizing the Latin earth mother image to that of a woman with concerns and status both outside and inside the home, maintaining a heartfelt humanity and down-to-earth practicality. The 1999 Lifetime TV-movie "Hit and Run" featured the actress as a sharp detective hot on the trail of a seemingly perfect citizen (Margaret Colin) who left the scene of a crime in a moment of shock and tries to cover up her involvement in a series of bad judgments. Vidal proved adept at evincing both the might and mildness of the character, a balance she would also be called upon to bring to Dr. Sara Morales, her recurring role on the NBC drama series "Third Watch" (1999-2005). Playing Magdalena Ramirez, a detective and single mother, on the Lifetime police drama "The Division" (2001-04), Vidal had excellent chemistry with co-stars including Nancy McKeon, and proved again her ability to portray both hard and soft in turn without either side being shorted with two-dimensional treatment.