Miami Vice Wiki
Saundra Santiago


April 13, 1957
Bronx, New York
Miami Vice Characters
Miami Vice Performer
Roger Squitero (1999-present)

Saundra Santiago (born April 13, 1957 in Bronx, New York) is an American actress, born of Cuban & Puerto Rican parentage. Her most famous role was that of Metro-Dade Detective Gina Calabrese in Miami Vice. Santiago also played a dual role of Gina Calabrese and her mother, Elena Obregon, in the episode "Heroes of the Revolution".

Early Life and Acting Career

Saundra's family moved to Homestead, Florida when she was 13, and she later attended the University of Miami, majoring in psychology. She became interested in acting while in college, and after graduation she attended Southern Methodist University, earning a masters in theater & arts. She began acting in a Broadway production of "A View From The Bridge" and had other roles in both on- and off-Broadway plays. She made her movie debut in 1982's The End Of August (with Mark-Linn Baker and Paul Roebling), then appeared as Carmen in 1984's breakdancing movie Beat Street (with Shawn Elliott).

Miami Vice

In 1984, Santiago was cast as Detective Gina Calabrese in the police drama Miami Vice. Originally Santiago's character (and that of Olivia Brown's Trudy Joplin) were "lures" for prostitution busts, but as the series developed, Gina became more of a regular police detective, getting involved in undercover operations (sometimes with devastating personal consequences). Gina was also romantically involved (on and off) with Don Johnson's character James "Sonny" Crockett, but the relationship turned to deep friendship later on. Santiago also displayed her singing talent in the third season finale "Heroes of the Revolution", singing two songs live on stage, but unlike Johnson and Philip Michael Thomas, she never released any albums of her work. Santiago reprised her "Gina" role on an episode of the daytime soap Days of our Lives, when the storyline was based in Miami, and her and co-star Michael Talbott appeared as their respective roles of Gina and Switek in an episode of NBC's MTV imitator Friday Night Videos.

After Vice

Santiago as Gina Calabrese

After Vice's cancellation, Santiago appeared in a few TV shows and made-for-TV movies in the 1990s, guesting on Dick Wolf's Law & Order series, then landed a recurring role as mob boss Carmen Santos on the CBS soap Guiding Light, which lasted for three years, during this time she also played in the HBO mob series The Sopranos as Tony Soprano's neighbor Jeannie Cusamano, and her twin, Joan. She also returned to Broadway in the Tony Award winning play Nine, which featured Melanie Griffith's husband, Antonio Banderas. Santiago also played a short role on the soap One Life To Live after leaving Guiding Light, returning to One Life in June, 2009 in a recurring role, her last appearance being in September, 2010, appeared in an episode of the 2011 series Person of Interest (with Olek Krupa), the TV movie Meddling Mom (with Tony Plana), Gang Related (with Terry O'Quinn), Gotham (with Michael Chiklis), and her most recent TV appearance, in Madam Secretary. In movies, she also had a small role in the 1993 Brian De Palma movie Carlito's Way, starring Al Pacino and fellow Miami Vice guest stars John Leguizamo and Penelope Ann Miller, and her most recent movie appearance, 2013's The House that Jack Built.

Personal life

Santiago met musician Roger Squitero (who performed with Luther Vandross, Irene Cara, and many others) in 1994 when they performed in the Broadway play Chronicle of a Death Foretold. They married five years later, and have no children.