• David Zayas was born in Ponce, Puerto Rico and raised in The Bronx, New York City.
• He was a police officer for 15 years, while his wife Liza Colon-Zayas is an off-Broadway actress and playwright.
• He was part of the LAByrinth Theatre Company, and was cast in the HBO series “Oz”, which served as his big break.
• He has appeared in several television series and films, including “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”, “Dexter”, “Gotham”, and “The Purge: Election Year”.
• His net worth is estimated at over $4 million and his salary per episode of “Gotham” was estimated at $75,000.

Known for movies

Short Info

Date Of BirthAugust 15, 1962
SpouseLiza Colón-Zayas
MarkLow nasal voice
FactThe only cast member of 'Dexter' to have been an actual Police Officer.

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.

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My Air Force days. 19yrs old.

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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.”

David Zayas


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.

Batista (David Zayas)

Posted by Dexterman.cz on Sunday, July 28, 2013


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 NameDavid Zayas
Date Of BirthAugust 15, 1962
Height1.83 m
ProfessionActor, Police officer


SpouseLiza Colón-Zayas
ChildrenDavid Zayas Jr.


AwardsSatellite Award for Best Supporting Actor – Series, Miniseries or Television Film
NominationsScreen 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
MoviesThe 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 ShowsDexter, Oz

Social profile links


#Marks / Signs
1Low nasal voice


1I 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.
2There'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.
3As 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.
4I 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.
5To 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.
6Art has to be reflective of our society.
7Part 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.
8Working on 'Dexter' is like shooting one big movie every year.
9You just see a good project and want to be involved in it, and that's what 'Dexter' was.]
10People are complicated. People have secrets. It doesn't make them good people or bad people.


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




The Savages2007Eduardo
Numb3rs2006TV SeriesCarlos Costavo
Bristol Boys2006Detective Benson
The Path to 9/112006TV Mini-SeriesLou Napoli
Conviction2006TV SeriesCartwright
16 Blocks2006Robert Torres
La fiesta del Chivo2005Antonio de la Maza
Angel2005TV MovieAngel's Father
The Interpreter2005Charlie Russell
Brooklyn Bound2004Popo
Mimmo & Paulie2004ShortPaulie
Angels in America2003TV Mini-SeriesSuper
La Araña2003ShortLa Araña
Undefeated2003TV MoviePaulie
Anne B. Real2003Cynthia's Dad
Oz2000-2003TV SeriesEnrique Morales
Guiding Light2002TV SeriesPrison Guard
A Gentleman's Game2002Alfred D'Angelo
Washington Heights2002David
UC: Undercover2002TV SeriesJorge Gonzales
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit2002TV SeriesDetective Milton
Wit2001TV MovieCode Team Blue Head
Sam the Man2001Billy the Cop
All My Children2000TV Series
The Beat2000TV SeriesRei Morales
The Yards2000Officer Jerry Rifkin
NYPD Blue2000TV SeriesJoaquin Enriquez
Kingdom Come1999
Bringing Out the Dead1999Cop in Elevator
Third Watch1999TV SeriesMotorman
Bleach1998ShortLt. Ballard
Trinity1998TV SeriesUniform Cop #1
Above Freezing1998Hector
Return to Paradise1998Construction Foreman
Scar City1998Cop #1
O.K. Garage1998Omar
Lena's Dreams1997Jorge
Feds1997TV Series
New York Undercover1996TV SeriesPaco Martinez
BlancoTV MovieOrtiz
Tell No Tales2018pre-productionFrank (rumored)
Eli Moran2018post-productionCoach Romero
Shut Eye2016TV SeriesEduardo Bernal
The Blacklist2013-2016TV SeriesManny Soto
Bloodline2016TV SeriesSheriff Aguirre
The Lennon Report2016Officer Joseph Medina
Tallulah2016Detective Richards
Lost Cat Corona2015Ponce
Elementary2015TV SeriesJuan Murillo
Gotham2014-2015TV SeriesSal Maroni
The Wannabe2015
Saint George2014TV SeriesJunior
Dexter2006-2013TV SeriesSgt. Angel Batista Det. Angel Batista Lt. Angel Batista
Jodi Arias: Dirty Little Secret2013TV MovieDetective Flores
The Following2013TV SeriesTyson Hernandez
Samuel Bleak2013Ruben Ramirez
Deception2013TV SeriesFrank
Junction2012Lt. Tarelli
Grimm2012TV SeriesSalvadore Butrell
Person of Interest2012TV SeriesErnie Trask
H.A.W.X.22010Video GameManny (voice)
The Expendables2010General Garza
Law & Order: Criminal Intent2006-2010TV SeriesCaptain Pro Tem Stanley Maas Fire Marshall
132010/IDetective Larry Mullane
In Plain Sight2009TV SeriesHarrison Locke
Flying By2009Tony
CSI: Miami2009TV SeriesBen Porterson
Wake2009/IDetective Grayson
Concerto2009ShortRay Lorentz
Burning Mussolini2009Hector
Law & Order1995-2008TV SeriesDetective Justin Cabrera / John Mireles / Carlos / ...
Michael Clayton2007Detective Dalberto
Burn Notice2007TV SeriesJavier
The Closer2007TV SeriesBrian
Shark2007TV SeriesAlvarez
Without a Trace2007TV SeriesGabriel Molina


10-13producer announced


Grand Theft Auto: Liberty City Stories2005Video Game motion capture performer
Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas2004Video Game motion capture actor






2013 ALMA Awards2013TV SpecialHimself
Action: 'The Expendables'2011Video shortHimself
When Pop Culture Saved America: A 9-11 Story2011TV Movie documentaryHimself
Latino 1012010-2011TV SeriesHimself
Working in the Theatre2011TV Series documentaryHimself
Made in Hollywood: Teen Edition2011TV SeriesHimself
The Mo'Nique Show2010TV SeriesHimself
Made in Hollywood2010TV SeriesHimself
Inferno: The Making of 'The Expendables'2010TV Movie documentaryHimself
2009 Alma Awards2009TV SpecialHimself
Infanity2008TV Series documentaryHimself
ADHDtv: With Lew Marklin2008TV SeriesHimself - Celebrity Guest
Quite Frankly with Stephen A. Smith2006TV SeriesHimself

Archive Footage

The Third Annual 'On Cinema' Oscar Special2015VideoHimself (uncredited)


Won Awards

2013ALMA AwardALMA AwardsSpecial Achievement in TelevisionDexter (2006)
2007Satellite AwardSatellite AwardsBest Actor in a Supporting Role in a Series, Mini-Series or Motion Picture Made for TelevisionDexter (2006)

Nominated Awards

2012ALMA AwardALMA AwardsFavorite TV Actor-Supporting Role in a DramaDexter (2006)
2012ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDexter (2006)
2011ALMA AwardALMA AwardsFavorite TV Actor - Supporting RoleDexter (2006)
2011ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDexter (2006)
2010ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDexter (2006)
2009ALMA AwardALMA AwardsActor in Television - DramaDexter (2006)
2009ActorScreen Actors Guild AwardsOutstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Drama SeriesDexter (2006)
2007Imagen AwardImagen Foundation AwardsBest Supporting Actor - TelevisionDexter (2006)

Source: IMDb, Wikipedia

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