After her marriage, she and her husband moved to California to realize his dream of starting an automotive business. During a period of dissatisfaction with her career as a social worker, Ontiveros was trying to decide whether to go back to school for a nursing degree when she saw an article about a need for local film extras. With her husband's encouragement, she took the job and parlayed it into a long stage and screen career. Prior to acting, she had worked for 18 years as a social worker, and she continued as an activist with many of the same causes with which she worked in that profession, such as domestic violence prevention and AIDS awareness and prevention.
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