Playing an illegal immigrant who's the nanny of two American children, Barraza received critical acclaim for her performance, including a San Francisco Film Critics Circle award for Best Supporting Actress and Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations.
A popular television actress since 1993, Barraza's first Hollywood experience was behind the scenes as an acting coach for the filming of Spanglish (2004), starring Adam Sandler and Paz Vega. She’d worked with director Alejandro González Iñárritu in Amores Perros (2000), and when he was having difficulty casting the role of Amelia in Babel, his wife recalled Barraza, who then sent an audition tape at his request. He says, "It was so good that I was almost crying. Every scene hit me in the heart and the gut." Most recently, she starred in The 33 (2015) and Cake (2015).