Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of Birth August 15, 1962
Spouse Liza Colón-Zayas
Mark Goatee
Fact Father of David Zayas Jr.

Early life, family, educational background

Puerto Rican actor David Zayas was born on 15 August 1962 in Ponce, Puerto Rico. He was raised in The Bronx, New York City USA, and dreamed of acting since he was 13.

He and his cousins went to the cinema and watched the 1975 Al Pacino film, “Dog Day Afternoon” – he sat in the front row while his cousins sat in the back of the cinema with their girlfriends. In a 2015 interview with Danny Hajek for NPR, David recalled watching the film, ‘I was fascinated. This was the art that was attractive to me.’ He added that it was, however, just a dream to him. He grew up in the Bronx in a blue-collar family; his father was a sanitation man, so he knew his chances of becoming an actor were slim.

David mentioned when he first expressed his desire to his father, ‘He looked at me like I was thinking outside of the reality of where we were at… And I respected my father. He was a good man, and he was a good father…’ He felt discouraged, so he pushed his dreams aside and didn’t work on pursuing them.

Family’s personal life

David’s wife, actress, and playwright Liza Colón-Zayas, was born in 1972 in The Bronx. Her career began as an off-Broadway actress, when she wrote, starred in, and produced a one-woman show, “Sistah Supreme,” which was loosely based on her life as a Latina woman in the 1970s and 1980s living in New York. This play helped her break into mainstream theater. Since 1992, she has been a member of the LAByrinth Theatre Company.

She was the original actress in the off-Broadway production of “Our Lady of 121st Street” as Norca. She appeared in “In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings,” which was directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman and co-starred Ana Ortiz, listed as one of the ten best plays of 1999 by Time Out New York.

She has appeared in several television series, including “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” as Detective Maria Baez’s sister Ana Baez in “Stomping Grounds,” in “Sex and the City” in episode 124 of “Blue Bloods”, and in season 5, episodes 7 and 8 of “Dexter,” she guest appeared as a snitch to the detectives who were investigating the Santa Muerte killings.

She played a passenger in the 2006 film, “United 93”; in 2008 as Judge Angel Rodriguez in “Righteous Kill”; and as Dawn in the 2016 horror, “The Purge: Election Year.”


When David was 19, he joined the US Air Force, and then worked at the New York Police Department as a police officer for almost 15 years. His real-life experience helped him portray police officers in most of his subsequent film and television work, as well as occasionally playing criminals.

He joined the world of entertainment after witnessing a Broadway performance of “A Few Good Men”, signing-up for acting classes with Ernie Martin during his off-hours. He didn’t share his extracurricular activities with his colleagues, but his partner knew. In an interview with NPR, he shared, ‘I remember riding in the car with him during the midnight shifts, and he would run lines with me for my audition the next day… he was a pretty good actor, so it was a good time.’


In 1992 he became a member of a New York City-based traveling acting group, the LAByrinth Theater Company, alongside John Ortiz and Phillip Seymour Hoffman. While part of the company, he appeared in numerous productions, including “Jesus Hopped the “A” Train” and “In Arabia, We’d All Be Kings.”

He had appeared in 30 plays when he was cast in the HBO series “Oz”, after being discovered by Tom Fontana. His love for the theater never disappeared, though – in 2003 he appeared in “Anna in the Tropics,” a Broadway production at the Royal Theater, and in “The Little Flower of East Orange,” in April 2008, produced by the studio and directed by Phillip Seymour Hoffman.


In 2000 he began playing his first recurring role as Rei Morales in “The Beat.” The show followed two uniformed police officers as they went through their daily routines, but was short-lived. He was given the role after the creators saw him perform one night and decided he should have a more prominent role in the series than the one he auditioned for. ‘From there, I created a relationship with Tom Fontana, who was writing and producing “Oz” on HBO.’

He played Enrique Morales in the HBO prison drama “Oz,” and considers this role to be his big break. The show aired from 1997, and David joined in 2000 until 2003 when the series ended.  Between 2002 and 2003, he often guest-starred in “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Guiding Light,” and “Law & Order.”

From 2006 to 2013, he played colleague and friend of Dexter Morgan, Angel Batista, in “Dexter”, which starred Michael C. Hall in the Showtime crime thriller drama about a forensic technician who lives a double life as a serial killer – from 2009 to 2012, David was jointly nominated for the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, and personally won the Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film. Along with Erik King, Luna Lauren Velez and Scott William Winters, he was one of four cast members who appeared in both “Oz” and “Dexter”, but was the only actor in the show who was a real-life Police Officer.

David played Ryan Hardy’s best friend, Tyson Hernandez, a retired FBI agent in “The Following”, then appeared in the Fox drama series episode, “Guilt”,  and from 2014 to 2015, he played Don Salvatore Maroni in the Fox Batman prequel series “Gotham.”

From 2017 to 2019, he played New York Governor Martin Mendez, in “Blue Bloods”, and in 2018 was Charlie in the episode entitled “Hell’s Gate” of the series “Quantico”.

He has made several crime drama appearances throughout his career. In 1996 he played Paco Martinez in the “New York Undercover” episode entitled “The Enforcers”; as Joaquin Enriquez in a 2000 episode of “NYPD Blue” in the episode entitled “These Shoots Are Made for Joaquin”; in 2012 as hotel manager Ernie Trask, in the episode “Super” of “Person of Interest”; and in 2018 he appeared in “Chicago P.D.” as Carlos Mendoza in the episode “Endings.”


In 1997 he played Jorge in “Lena’s Dreams,”; a cop, Osborne in 1998’s “Scar City;” another cop in 1999’s “Bringing Out the Dead;” and again as Billy in 2001’s “Sam the Man.” In 2006, he played a corrupt police officer, Detective Robert Torres in “16 Blocks”, and the following year NYPD Detective Dalberto in “Michael Clayton,” which was a huge commercial success and received numerous awards.

He appeared in three films in 2010 – as Bill in “Shadowboxing,” an independent film which was shown on the film festival circuit; as General Garza in Sylvester Stallone’s feature film, “The Expendables”, which Sylvester directed, and was a huge commercial success, earning more than $270 million on an $80 million budget, despite the reviews being mostly negative. David also played Oliver in The Brother’s Strause’s film, “Skyline.”

He played a sociable bodega owner named Lou in the 2014 remake of the family musical, “Annie ” – his character has a major crush on Miss. Hannigan, played by Cameron Diaz, and helps her learn self-love. The Will Gluck-directed film was a commercial success, despite receiving mostly negative reviews.

In 2016 he played Detective Richards in “Tallulah,” and in 2020, Sgt. Kesper in “Body Cam.”

Personal life

During his 20s, he married for the first time but divorced in his late 20s – nothing is known of his wife.

He met his second wife, Liza Colón-Zayas, at LAByrinth. They married on 21 November 1998 and have a son, David Zayas Jr.


David has black hair and dark brown eyes. He is 5ft 11ins (1.8m) tall.

Net worth and salary

David’s net worth is estimated at over $4 million, as of mid-2020.

General Info

Full Name David Zayas
Date Of Birth August 15, 1962
Height 1.83 m
Profession Actor, Police officer


Spouse Liza Colón-Zayas
Children David Zayas Jr.


Awards Satellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
Nominations Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series, ALMA Award for Favorite TV Actor – Supporting Role, ALMA Award for Favorite TV Actor
Movies The Expendables, Skyline, 16 Blocks, Annie, The Wannabe, Michael Clayton, Tallulah, The Savages, The Interpreter, A Gentleman’s Game, Anne B. Real, Brooklyn Bound, Jailbait, Samuel Bleak, Bringing Out the Dead, Washington Heights, Return to Paradise, The Feast of the Goat, Bristol Boys, The Lennon R…
TV Shows Dexter, Oz

Social profile links



# Marks / Signs
1 Low nasal voice
2 Goatee


# Quote
1 I love it and it is a blessing to be able to have seventy-five to eighty episodes to develop a character and find your voice. You have a similar through voice, and yet you are making different decisions, and so you act differently and you make different choices, as that is what your character would do.
2 There’s not too many things I’m afraid of, but I’m not too brave when it comes to sitting in a chair getting my teeth drilled.
3 As an actor, I’ve always found that my job is not to judge the content in which I’ve agreed to perform in. What I try to do is just find the truth in every moment that they’ve written.
4 I saw the original that Gela Babluani wrote and directed called ’13 Tzameti,’ and that was very interesting. I believe it was a French film, and I was just intrigued by the awkwardness; the off-beatness of the film really just grasped me.
5 To get into another person’s mindset and what they are trying to do with their project is a challenge, and it is what I like.
6 Art has to be reflective of our society.
7 Part of an actor’s job, in my opinion, is adjust to the characteristics of the director and try to understand to how he tries to work.
8 Working on ‘Dexter’ is like shooting one big movie every year.
9 You just see a good project and want to be involved in it, and that’s what ‘Dexter’ was.]
10 People are complicated. People have secrets. It doesn’t make them good people or bad people.


# Fact
1 Father of David Zayas Jr.
2 The only cast member of ‘Dexter’ to have been an actual Police Officer.
3 Served in the U.S. Air Force.
4 Born in Puerto Rico and raised in the Bronx, New York.
5 One of four actors to star in the television series Dexter and Oz, along with Lauren Luna Vélez, Erik King and Scott William Winters.
6 Member of Labyrinth Theater Company.
7 Former NYPD beat cop in Times Square.


All pictures



Title Year Status Character
The Savages 2007 Eduardo
Numb3rs 2006 TV Series Carlos Costavo
Bristol Boys 2006 Detective Benson
The Path to 9/11 2006 TV Mini-Series Lou Napoli
Conviction 2006 TV Series Cartwright
16 Blocks 2006 Robert Torres
La fiesta del Chivo 2005 Antonio de la Maza
Angel 2005 TV Movie Angel’s Father
Sangre/Blood 2005 Short Nestor
The Interpreter 2005 Charlie Russell
Brooklyn Bound 2004 Popo
Jailbait 2004 Guard
Mimmo & Paulie 2004 Short Paulie
Angels in America 2003 TV Mini-Series Super
La Araña 2003 Short La Araña
Undefeated 2003 TV Movie Paulie
Anne B. Real 2003 Cynthia’s Dad
Oz 2000-2003 TV Series Enrique Morales
Guiding Light 2002 TV Series Prison Guard
A Gentleman’s Game 2002 Alfred D’Angelo
Washington Heights 2002 David
UC: Undercover 2002 TV Series Jorge Gonzales
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit 2002 TV Series Detective Milton
Wit 2001 TV Movie Code Team Blue Head
Sam the Man 2001 Billy the Cop
All My Children 2000 TV Series
The Beat 2000 TV Series Rei Morales
The Yards 2000 Officer Jerry Rifkin
NYPD Blue 2000 TV Series Joaquin Enriquez
Kingdom Come 1999
Bringing Out the Dead 1999 Cop in Elevator
Third Watch 1999 TV Series Motorman
Bleach 1998 Short Lt. Ballard
Trinity 1998 TV Series Uniform Cop #1
Stepmom 1998 Policeman
Above Freezing 1998 Hector
Rounders 1998 Osborne
Return to Paradise 1998 Construction Foreman
Scar City 1998 Cop #1
O.K. Garage 1998 Omar
Lena’s Dreams 1997 Jorge
Feds 1997 TV Series
New York Undercover 1996 TV Series Paco Martinez
Blanco TV Movie Ortiz
Tell No Tales 2018 pre-production Frank (rumored)
Eli Moran 2018 post-production Coach Romero
Shine 2017 post-production Ramon
Shut Eye 2016 TV Series Eduardo Bernal
The Blacklist 2013-2016 TV Series Manny Soto
11:55 2016 Maurice
Bloodline 2016 TV Series Sheriff Aguirre
The Lennon Report 2016 Officer Joseph Medina
Tallulah 2016 Detective Richards
Lost Cat Corona 2015 Ponce
Elementary 2015 TV Series Juan Murillo
Gotham 2014-2015 TV Series Sal Maroni
The Wannabe 2015
Annie 2014 Lou
Ride 2014/I Ramon
Saint George 2014 TV Series Junior
Dexter 2006-2013 TV Series Sgt. Angel Batista
Det. Angel Batista
Lt. Angel Batista
Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret 2013 TV Movie Detective Flores
The Following 2013 TV Series Tyson Hernandez
Samuel Bleak 2013 Ruben Ramirez
Deception 2013 TV Series Frank
Junction 2012 Lt. Tarelli
Grimm 2012 TV Series Salvadore Butrell
Person of Interest 2012 TV Series Ernie Trask
Skyline 2010 Oliver
H.A.W.X.2 2010 Video Game Manny (voice)
The Expendables 2010 General Garza
Coach 2010 Video Ramon
Shadowboxing 2010/II Bill
Law & Order: Criminal Intent 2006-2010 TV Series Captain Pro Tem Stanley Maas
Fire Marshall
13 2010/I Detective Larry Mullane
In Plain Sight 2009 TV Series Harrison Locke
Flying By 2009 Tony
CSI: Miami 2009 TV Series Ben Porterson
Wake 2009/I Detective Grayson
Concerto 2009 Short Ray Lorentz
Burning Mussolini 2009 Hector
Law & Order 1995-2008 TV Series Detective Justin Cabrera / John Mireles / Carlos / …
Michael Clayton 2007 Detective Dalberto
Burn Notice 2007 TV Series Javier
The Closer 2007 TV Series Brian
Shark 2007 TV Series Alvarez
Without a Trace 2007 TV Series Gabriel Molina


Title Year Status Character
10-13 producer announced


Title Year Status Character
Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories 2005 Video Game motion capture performer
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas 2004 Video Game motion capture actor


Title Year Status Character
10-13 announced


Title Year Status Character
10-13 announced


Title Year Status Character
2013 ALMA Awards 2013 TV Special Himself
Action: ‘The Expendables’ 2011 Video short Himself
When Pop Culture Saved America: A 9-11 Story 2011 TV Movie documentary Himself
Latino 101 2010-2011 TV Series Himself
Working in the Theatre 2011 TV Series documentary Himself
Made in Hollywood: Teen Edition 2011 TV Series Himself
The Mo’Nique Show 2010 TV Series Himself
Made in Hollywood 2010 TV Series Himself
Inferno: The Making of ‘The Expendables’ 2010 TV Movie documentary Himself
2009 Alma Awards 2009 TV Special Himself
Infanity 2008 TV Series documentary Himself
ADHDtv: With Lew Marklin 2008 TV Series Himself – Celebrity Guest
Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith 2006 TV Series Himself

Archive Footage

Title Year Status Character
The Third Annual ‘On Cinema’ Oscar Special 2015 Video Himself (uncredited)


Won Awards

Year Award Ceremony Nomination Movie
2013 ALMA Award ALMA Awards Special Achievement in Television Dexter (2006)
2007 Satellite Award Satellite Awards Best Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for Television Dexter (2006)

Nominated Awards

Year Award Ceremony Nomination Movie
2012 ALMA Award ALMA Awards Favorite TV Actor-Supporting Role in a Drama Dexter (2006)
2012 Actor Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Dexter (2006)
2011 ALMA Award ALMA Awards Favorite TV Actor – Supporting Role Dexter (2006)
2011 Actor Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Dexter (2006)
2010 Actor Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Dexter (2006)
2009 ALMA Award ALMA Awards Actor in Television – Drama Dexter (2006)
2009 Actor Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama Series Dexter (2006)
2007 Imagen Award Imagen Foundation Awards Best Supporting Actor – Television Dexter (2006)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia