Polanco at the 2014 Peabody Awards
|Alma mater||Hunter College|
Polanco was born in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and moved to the United States at a young age. She was raised in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, New York and Miami by her father, a mechanic, and mother, a cosmetologist. Polanco is the oldest of three children; she has a brother and sister.
Polanco aspired to be an actress from an early age but "always doubted auditioning because of [her] weight", so she completed a bachelor's degree in psychology at Hunter College. After college she began working in the healthcare industry with the intention of becoming a nurse. She was working in hospital administration at Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx while studying nursing when she gained the courage to pursue acting again and registered herself with an acting studio. She attended BIH Studios in New York, and while there was signed by the talent agency Shirley Grant Management. Her first acting credits were minor parts in the television series Unforgettable and NYC 22.
In 2013, Polanco appeared in the independent film Gimme Shelter before returning to her role on Orange Is the New Black for the show's second season. In June 2014, it was announced that she had been promoted from a recurring role to a series regular for the show's third season, which was released in June 2015. She appeared in the comedy films The Cobbler and Joy, and starred in the film The Perfect Match.
In 2018, Polanco had a recurring role in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story, and in 2019, she had a recurring role in Netflix series, Russian Doll and When They See Us.
|2016||The Perfect Match||Sheila "Pressy" Wells|
|2018||MFKZ||Luna (voice)||English dub|
|2020||In the Heights||Cuca||Filming|
|2012||NYC 22||Fan #2||Episode: "Firebomb"|
|2013–2019||Orange Is the New Black||Dayanara "Daya" Diaz||81 episodes|
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (2014, 2015)
|2018||The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story||Det. Lori Wieder||3 episodes|
|2019||Russian Doll||Beatrice||4 episodes|
|2019||When They See Us||Elena||Episode: "Part Three"|
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- Greco, Patti (August 3, 2013). "OITNB's Dascha Polanco on Daya and Bennett, Doodling Penises, and Her Johnny Depp Crush". New York. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- Rapp, Ilana (July 15, 2014). "Actress Dascha Polanco Tells Us About Life Before and After Netflix's Orange Is the New Black". Huffington Post. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
- Thomas, Kaitlin (June 12, 2014). "Orange Is the New Black Promotes Dascha Polanco to Series Regular". TV Guide. Retrieved June 13, 2014.