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Why You Never Hear From Judy Reyes Anymore

If you're one of the countless fans of the cult comedy Scrubs, you're familiar with Judy Reyes, who played the bold, busybody nurse Carla Espinosa for eight of the show's nine seasons. The actor is best known for bringing Carla to life with a mix of zaniness and determination, cementing her reputation as one of show's most memorable characters. Reyes has been recognized for her dedicated performance, winning two American Latino Media Arts awards for the role and continuing to grow the series' fanbase across new generations of viewers.

Reyes has yet to match the success of her breakout performance on Scrubs, but the Bronx-born actor has continued working in film and television, often playing smaller parts or taking on a role for a limited run. She's remained committed to diversifying the kinds of roles she plays, which can prove challenging for a Latina actor in Hollywood. Nevertheless, Reyes has remained a working actor, albeit with a slightly lower profile than she had in her Scrubs days.

Here's what she's been up to since she left the successful sitcom.

Judy Reyes quit Scrubs amid pay disputes

Judy Reyes was cast in the role of Carla on Scrubs, as she told Shondaland, after "a lot of breaks in between and a lot of part-time jobs." She would go on to play Carla for an astounding 169 episodes, becoming a consistent face alongside the three interns-turned-doctors JD (Zach Braff), Turk (Donald Faison), and Elliot (Sarah Chalke), as they navigated the ins and outs of Sacred Heart hospital. Carla's no-nonsense attitude always came from a good place, and she was always there to offer her advice, whether solicited or not.

Despite the success of the show, all good things must come to an end. In 2008, Reyes announced that she, along with show creator Bill Lawrence and Braff, would be leaving after the eighth season. At the time, she explained that her colleagues' salaries "exceed[ed] the budget... so do their ambitions. Mine do too."

The show would only continue for one season after their departure before being canceled.

Judy Reyes struggled to escape stereotypical Latina roles

Following her exit from Scrubs in 2009, Judy Reyes was cast in guest roles on various television shows, including Medium and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit. It wasn't until 2013, when she got a major role on the ABC comedy-drama series Devious Maids, which follows a group of Latina housekeepers as they work for the wealthy residents of Beverly Hills, that she began to work steadily again. She would go on to score parts on other sitcoms including Jane the Virgin, Fresh Off the Boat, and The Good Wife but struggled to escape the "fiery Latina" stereotype that many actors face.

Reyes told Shondaland that she appreciates that she's able to get work playing these types of roles but longs for something new. "Achieving success playing the sassy nurse on 'Scrubs' was the most amazing thing in terms of generating the career that I have. I get to be the sassy this and the sassy that. It makes money for people. It makes money for me. But I still want to be able to play something else," she stated. "As a working Latina actor, I want the challenge and freedom to play different roles."

Judy Reyes changed things up on Claws

More recently, Judy Reyes had in a starring role in the ensemble dramedy Claws on TNT, which tells the story of five manicurists at a Florida nail salon who become involved with organized crime. While TNT announced that the show's upcoming fourth season will be its last, the show gave Reyes the opportunity to play against type. Reyes plays "Quiet Ann," a lesbian ex-con who went to jail for almost beating her girlfriend to death. The character is decidedly less "sassy" than her previous roles, with Ann living up to her name and keeping a relatively low profile. Reyes knew the role would be a challenge, but she was able to reach back into her memories of growing up in the Bronx to bring her character to life. 

"The opportunity is what attracted me to her. I was like, 'Oh sh*t, I know this girl,'" she said. "I just filtered from the outside in and made her what I know. It was a lot of fun to have the freedom of playing her physically — no makeup, none of that. Someone that you actually know."

Judy Reyes is still popping up in shows we love

While audiences will be saying goodbye to Quiet Ann and the other quirky characters on Claws, the role gave Judy Reyes the opportunity to expand her repertoire and has opened the door for other complex and interesting parts for the 53-year-old actress. In 2017, she had a recurring role on the popular HBO (formerly TBS) crime comedy Search Party, where she plays Deb, one of many characters looking for answers surrounding a murder that Dory (Alia Shawkat) and her millennial friends may or may not have committed. Reyes brings a wonderful duality to the role, tapping into the same aggressive exterior that gives way to genuine warmth that Carla Espinosa was known for. 

You also may have spotted her in a bit part on HBO's Succession, which follows the sordid inner workings of the wealthy Roy family and its media and hospitality conglomerate. Reyes is on the show for three episodes playing Eva, a ruthless executive producer for the company's news channel. Commenting on her appearance, one fan on Reddit said, "Anyone else happy to see Judy (Carla) working again, even if her character isn't particularly likeable? She was one of my favorite actors on the show, and I haven't seen her in any other major recurring roles since Scrubs." 

In 2020, Reyes returned to her medical roots playing Dr. Paul, a colleague of Dr. Rainbow Johnson (Tracee Ellis Ross) on the popular series Black-ish. She's also had roles on a host of other popular series, including One Day at a TimeBetter Things, and Dirty John

Judy Reyes is investing in family and getting political

While Judy Reyes has continued to act in smaller roles over the years since she left Scrubs, she's also become a mother in the interlude. While she was married to writer and director Edwin M. Figueroa from 1997 to 2008, it wasn't until she met George Valencia, who writes and directs documentaries and animated series, that she took on the role as parent. The two met on Valencia's 2008 film Glow Ropes: The Rise and Fall of a Bar Mitzvah Emcee and soon became a couple. The two had a daughter, Leila Rey, in 2009. In an Instagram post from November 2020, Reyes writes Leila a heartfelt birthday note: "She is fearless, smart, creative, funny, sparkling and 11 today. Love you, Monster! Proud to be your mom!!" 

Reyes isn't shy about sharing social media posts of her family, and the same goes for her political beliefs. She rallied behind Joe Biden and Kamala Harris in the 2020 election and has used her platform to fight anti-abortion laws. In this post from June 2020, she shares a photo and message celebrating the Supreme Court decision to expand abortion rights: "YES! The Supreme Court just struck down Louisiana's anti-abortion law! This is a victory, but why were they attacking our health care and rights in the first place?! Abortion access is still not attainable for all — we are watching and will continue to fight!" 

While it's unclear what's next for Judy Reyes, we hope she will continue to grace our television screens and show the world what she's capable of.