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Isabel Torres, actress known for 'Veneno' on HBO Max, dies at 52
Ms. Torres was one of three transgender performers to play Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez, a beloved Spanish television personality, in the eight-part streaming series.

by Johnny Diaz

NEW YORK, NY.- Isabel Torres, the Spanish actress best known for playing transgender singer and television personality Cristina Ortiz Rodríguez in the HBO Max series “Veneno,” died Friday. She was 52.

Torres’ family confirmed her death in a statement on her official Instagram account. The statement did not specify a cause or say where she died.

In recent years, Torres had documented her treatments for lung cancer on Instagram. In November, she shared a video in which she said she had been told she had only about two months to live.

“Let’s see if I get over it,” she said. “And if not,” she added, “what are we going to do? Life is like that.” She said the video would be her last, though she continued to post photographs for several weeks.

Torres had acted sporadically since the mid-1990s before she found her largest audience in 2020 in “Veneno,” as one of three transgender performers who portrayed Rodríguez, a transgender singer and television personality. In the show, Rodríguez, who was known as “La Veneno” (“The Poison”), rises to fame after being interviewed by a television journalist in a park in Madrid where she had been working as a prostitute. She becomes a fixture on Spanish television and the most prominent transgender person in the country before her death in 2016 at 52.

“Veneno” is based on the book “Listen! Not a Whore, Not a Saint: The Memories of La Veneno” by journalist Valeria Vegas. Created and directed by Javier Ambrossi and Javier Calvo, the series debuted on Spanish streaming platform Atresplayer Premium in 2020 and was then picked up by HBO Max.

Torres was the oldest of the three actors who played Rodríguez in the eight-part series. In one Instagram post, Torres said it was the role of a lifetime, adding that she had gained weight to transform herself for it.

For her performance, she won an Ondas Award for best actress in a television series.

Torres was born July 14, 1969, in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, in the Canary Islands, according to

In 1996, she became the first Canarian woman to have her gender legally changed on her identification, according to Spanish news outlet Las Provincias.

In 2005, she became the first transgender woman to be a candidate for the title of Las Palmas Carnival Queen, Las Provincias reported. Last year, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria honored her as its “favorite daughter.”

Information about her survivors was not immediately available.

In an interview with The Advocate last year, Torres said that she was surprised to discover how much she had in common with Rodríguez when she was cast in “Veneno” and that she had seized on those similarities to shape her performance.

“I think in it there was a lot of me, and in her there was a lot of all of us,” she said. “I never thought we would have a lot of similarities, and at the end, after seeing the character, learning her story and learning to love her through her wounds, I understood that we share a lot in common.”

This article originally appeared in The New York Times.

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