What Did Cote de Pablo Do Before She Was Famous for ‘NCIS’?

The excitement of Cote de Pablo returning to NCIS next fall as Ziva David continues to heat up this summer. If it holds true, then it could change everything about NCIS and bring it some needed new energy it arguably lacked in the last six years since de Pablo departed.

Only one liability exists in de Pablo returning as Ziva: This is primarily what she’s known for, so far. This isn’t to say she didn’t have an interesting history as an actress before finding herself on NCIS.

Her earliest days had some surprising turns, including a desire to act in a far different medium from television.

Being a TV host was Cote de Pablo’s first exposure to TV

Cote de Pablo and Michael Weatherly
Ziva (Cote de Pablo) and Tony (Michael Weatherly) | Sonja Flemming/CBS via Getty Images

We’ve covered de Pablo’s Chilean origins in some recent pieces, including a fortuitous move to America with her parents. When they moved to Miami in 1989, de Pablo was only ten years old, though she probably assimilated early to a television environment. Her family moved there because her mom landed a job at Telemundo.

No doubt de Pablo spent some time in Telemundo learning how TV works. This could have been a deciding factor in wanting to do something in the entertainment industry.

Ultimately, though, de Pablo had acting dreams in a different place. After graduating from high school, she attended Carnegie Mellon University to study music and theater. Her full dream was to maybe work on Broadway, a typical place to gain acting exposure before moving up the ladder.

Cote de Pablo worked in musical theater and hosted a TV show on Univision

While de Pablo studied at Carnegie Mellon, she appeared in numerous musicals there before graduating. Living in NYC is already the stuff of dreams of every actor, and she did find work there in some stage productions.

Univision also hired her as a TV co-host for a talk show called Control, a job also leading to other acting on TV, namely soap operas. Her appearance on All My Children in the early 2000s is still well-noted by daytime TV fans.

TV proved too hard to resist as many Broadway actors find out. She soon managed to win a role on a brief Fox drama called The Jury. Many thought this would be her big break, despite the show being canceled early.

As you can see in the video clip above, she was truly memorable in the role. No wonder NCIS came calling for her to fill in for the departing Sasha Alexander, who played the role of Caitlin Todd.

How Cote de Pablo springboarded into movies

Some of you NCIS fans may not remember de Pablo won numerous awards for playing Ziva David. She won the ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Television Series in 2011 as just starters. Five years earlier, she won an Imagen Award for Best Supporting Actress.

There was no secret she was a natural-born actress who could easily outshine her male co-stars on NCIS. Maybe there was some internal bias there because we all know her leaving the show out of the blue was due to her unheard request to give Ziva better respect and value.

It’s unfortunate some critics say her coming back to the show was probably due to her movie career fizzling out. You may remember she started doing movies during her NCIS hiatuses. Her performances were always good, though the movies didn’t do well at the box office. There is a movie with her coming out soon, outside of most efforts thus far being indie fare.

Should she return as Ziva regularly, we have to wonder if a new, positive TV chapter will be written we’ll have to fill in here at a later date. Let’s hope it’s one truly worthy and not a writing team pulling the rug out from hopeful viewers.