When Vanessa was 8 she started acting in plays and even performed her own song at a sixth-grade talent show, which she won.
Soon afterward she began pursuing an acting career and starred in several theatre productions before landing the role of Brenda Barrett on the ABC daytime soap opera General Hospital in 1992.
Vanessa Marcil was born on October 15, 1968, in Indio, California, to Peter Ortiz, a contractor, and Patricia Marcil Ortiz, an herbalist.
She grew up in Palm Desert with her parents and her two older sisters Tina (born October 20, 1959) and Sherry (born September 7, 1962) and her older brother Sam (born November 16, 1958).
Vanessa later joined the cast of the NBC drama Las Vegas as Sam Marquez, a casino host where she remained on the show for five seasons until 2008.