Award winning Queens actress fine with being stereotyped

In conjunction with the Greater Astoria Historical Society, the TimesLedger newspaper presents noteworthy events in the borough’s history

Born Andrea Donna de Matteo on Jan. 19, 1972, actress and Queens native Drea de Matteo is best known for her portrayal of Mafia moll Adriana La Cerva in the HBO series “The Sopranos.”

After receiving an Emmy for her role as supporting actress in the drama series, the critically acclaimed star has since shown her versatility in a television universe spanning comedy, drama and fictional superheroes.

She has two children from a relationship with Shooter Jennings, son of famed country singer Waylon Jennings. In March 2015, de Matteo lost her East Village apartment of 22 years in a highly publicized deadly gas explosion.

The future thespian spent her early years in the Whitestone section of Queens.

Her mother, Donna, is a playwright and teacher at the AB Actors Studio and her father, Albert, was a successful CEO of two furniture companies.

The de Matteos later moved to the Upper East Side, where they occupied the former townhouse of singer Aretha Franklin.

After graduating from the Loyola School, young Drea studied at the Tisch School of the Arts at NYU, originally hoping to become a director, not an actress.

The future star soon caught the acting bug, however, and her breakout role was undeniably that of Adriana La Cerva, girlfriend to an up-and-coming Mafia soldier in the six-season crime drama “The Sopranos.”

Although auditioning for just a one-episode role, the Queens native so impressed the show’s producers with her acting skills that she became an award-winning regular in the series.

During her six-year run with the mob crime drama, de Matteo also earned a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series as well as a Gracie Award, presented to outstanding women in entertainment and news media.

While still portraying Adriana, by 2004 the television star had taken the next step in her career, appearing in the short-lived sitcom “Joey,” a spinoff from the series “Friends.”

In recent years, the accomplished actress from Queens has continued to build a remarkable television career across a variety of genres.

Aside from acting in the highly popular series “Desperate Housewives” for two seasons, among other roles de Matteo also became one of the main characters in the cable TV crime drama “Sons of Anarchy.”

In addition, the girl from Whitestone who made it big has appeared on police procedurals such as “CSI: Miami” and “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.”

In early 2016 she returned home as NYPD Detective Tess Nazario, one of the main cast in the NBC crime series “Shades of Blue.”

Notable Quote: “I’m definitely stereotyped, and I’m very OK with that.”

Compiled by Dan McDonald, Greater Astoria Historical Society. For further information, contact the Society at 718-278-0700 or visit our website at www.astorialic.org.

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