Cote de Pablo: Breaking the Mold

The oldest of three siblings, De Pablo was born in Santiago, Chile, into a family of achievers. Her mother, Maria Olga Fernandez, is a well-known TV personality, “a sort of Latin American Kelly Ripa,” De Pablo says, while her father, Francisco, is an entrepreneur in the import/export industry. She describes her upbringing as privileged and very conservative, and her large extended family as boisterous. In order to be heard, a young De Pablo found her own way to cut through the noise.

“I realized I would get more attention if I stayed quiet,” says De Pablo, who, according to E-Poll Market Research’s annual “appeal” list, is one of America’s top-10 most likable celebrities, alongside Betty White and Tom Hanks. “People gravitated towards me.”

When De Pablo was 10, her mother accepted an offer to host the show Hola America for Telemundo in Miami. Moving to the U.S. was difficult, but when she enrolled in New World School of the Arts, a public performing arts high school in downtown Miami, De Pablo’s life changed dramatically. “For a long time, I felt I was so different from anyone here. I hated it. I wanted to go back home,” she says. “It wasn’t until I found my tribe of artists—people who were outspoken and not afraid to say what they thought, whether in a song or a dance or a piece of classical music—that I found a refuge.”

Still, De Pablo’s ties to Chile remain strong. Her parents are now divorced, with her father living in Miami and her mom in Santiago, where De Pablo faithfully visits at least twice a year. Just two hours northwest from the capital is a favorite haunt: Zapallar, a lovely seaside village. And like any true local, she enjoys feasting on traditional meals like machas a la parmesana (razor clams made with Chilean parmesan), along with pastel de choclo (a tasty chicken-and-corn casserole). When she’s not with family, you’ll find De Pablo giving back by visiting local high schools, offering advice to students.

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