Sabina was recently included in the Los Angeles Times inaugural list of Latino Vanguards.
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The light that Zúñiga Varela radiates in her acting comes from a luminous intelligence. Her characters are quick to take in subtleties others miss. A renowned acting teacher at USC, where she received her MFA, Zúñiga Varela was born and raised in New Mexico. The daughter of a civil rights activist and a Vietnam veteran, according to her website bio, she “was raised on red and green chili, elk meat, jazz, and Cat Stevens.” A stage actor who has anchored updated versions of Culture Clash’s “Chavez Ravine,” Zúñiga Varela transforms whatever she touches. In Luis Alfaro’s “Mojada: A Medea in Los Angeles,” she lent an aching new reality to the vengeful wife who was reimagined as a hardworking Boyle Heights seamstress. Zúñiga Varela, whose TV appearances include a recurring role a few seasons back on “Madam Secretary,” brings a soulful timelessness to her theatrical work that bridges historical eras and cultural backgrounds. — Charles McNulty