Monica Barbaro

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Monica Barbaro
A young woman with tanned skin staring into the camera
Barbaro in 2022, at the premiere of Top Gun: Maverick
Born (1990-06-18) June 18, 1990 (age 32)[1][2][3]
Years active2015–present

Monica Barbaro (born June 18, 1990) is an American actress. She is best known for her roles as Lieutenant Natasha 'Phoenix' Trace in Top Gun: Maverick, Yael in season 2 of Unreal, and Cora Vasquez in The Good Cop.


Barbaro was born on June 18, 1990, in San Francisco. She grew up in Mill Valley, California, where she graduated from Tamalpais High School in 2007.[4][5][6] Her parents are Heidi Wagner, who is of Mexican, German, Nicaraguan and English descent, and Nicholas Barbaro, who is of Italian descent.[7] They divorced when she was a child.[4]

Barbaro started dancing at an early age[4] and would go on to study ballet, completing a degree in dance at Tisch School of the Arts while taking electives in acting. Ultimately she decided to pursue acting instead of dance.[3][4] After graduating she moved back to California where she pivoted into acting and studied at Beverly Hills Playhouse.[4]

She first gained attention for her lead role in a viral sketch entitled "It's Not About the Nail".[4][8][9]


Barbaro's first major television role was portraying the character of Yael on the second season of the Lifetime television series UnREAL.[10] Yael was also known as "Hot Rachel," a nemesis to the character portrayed by Shiri Appleby.[11][12][13] Following her work on UnREAL, Barbaro joined the cast as a lead of the new NBC legal drama Chicago Justice, an entry in Dick Wolf's Chicago franchise.[14] In Chicago Justice, she portrayed Anna Valdez, a well-educated, whip-smart, quick-tongued and sharp-witted assistant state's attorney.[15] In 2018, Barbaro also played Cora Vasquez, a homicide detective on The Good Cop, alongside Josh Groban and Tony Danza. Between 2018 and 2019, Barbaro played the recurring role of Lisa Apple, Martin's new girlfriend, in the ABC sitcom Splitting Up Together.



Year Title Role Notes
2013 Bullish Eva
2021 The Cathedral Lydia Damrosch
2022 Top Gun: Maverick Natasha "Phoenix" Trace [16]
2022 I'm Charlie Walker Peggy


Year Title Role Notes
2015 Stitchers Brenda 'Bentley' Miller Episode: "The Root of All Evil"
2016 Hawaii Five-0 Ella Koha Episode: "Ke Koa Lokomaika'i"
2016 Cooper Barrett's Guide to Surviving Life Attractive Girl Episode "How to Survive Working with Friends"
2016 Unreal Yael Main role (season 2), 10 episodes
2016 Notorious Chloe Edwards Episode: "Tell Me a Secret"
2016–2017 Chicago P.D. Assistant State's Attorney Anna Valdez 4 episodes
2017 Chicago Justice Assistant State's Attorney Anna Valdez Main role
2017 Lethal Weapon Nora Cooper Episode: "Flight Risk"
2018 The Good Cop Cora Vasquez Main role
2018–2019 Splitting Up Together Lisa Apple Recurring role
2019 Stumptown Liz Melero 4 episodes
TBA Army of the Dead: Lost Vegas Not yet released Meagan (voice) Upcoming
TBA Utap Not yet released Emma Brunner Main Cast, Filming

Video games

Year Title Role Notes
2022 Forspoken Auden [17]


  1. ^ Craig Bierko (June 18, 2016). "Birthday wish". Twitter. Happy fricking @monicabarbaro Exists on Planet Earth Day! Rejoice! Rinse! Repeat! Happy goddamn Birthday! XO
  2. ^ "Instagram video by Monica Barbaro". Instagram. June 18, 2016. Thank you for all the wonderful birthday wishes!
  3. ^ a b "Hot Rachel From "UnREAL" Talks Breaking Into Acting and Playing a Manipulator". Cosmopolitan. June 20, 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d e f "BA #198: Monica Barbaro". the Box Angeles podcast. September 24, 2017. Retrieved May 17, 2022.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  5. ^ Johnson, G. Allen (May 26, 2022). "Bay Area actress went through grueling 'boot camp' with Tom Cruise for 'Top Gun: Maverick'". San Francisco Chronicle. Hearst Communications, Inc. Retrieved May 28, 2022.
  6. ^ Tamalpais High School Alumni Directory. Dallas TX: Publishing Concepts, Inc. 2018.
  7. ^ Valencia, Fe (July 22, 2019). "'Top Gun 2' Female Pilot: Fast Facts About Monica Barbaro". Latin Times. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  8. ^ "Viral Video: 'It's Not About the Nail' Is a Hilarious Look at Marriage". Babble. June 6, 2013. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  9. ^ Saperstein, Pat (June 29, 2013). "Variety's Picks: 15 Symptoms of Life in L.A., New Burt Bacharach Book, Goodie Mob Album, More". Variety. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  10. ^ "'UnREAL': Before They Were Stars". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  11. ^ "UnREAL's Monica Barbaro on Hot Rachel's Reveal and the Show's Prescient Police Scene". Elle. July 26, 2016. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  12. ^ "Monica Barbaro on Hot Rachel's Shady 'UnREAL' Reveal". Yahoo. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  13. ^ Petski, Denise (January 29, 2016). "'UnReal': Monica Barbaro, Denée Benton & More Join Season 2 Cast On Lifetime". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 30, 2016.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 25, 2016). "Chicago Justice's Monica Barbaro Cast as Series Regular". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  15. ^ "Chicago Justice's Monica Barbaro Dancing Her Way into Dream Role". Parade. February 8, 2017. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  16. ^ Kroll, Justin (August 21, 2018). "'Unreal's' Monica Barbaro to Play Miles Teller's Love Interest in 'Top Gun: Maverick' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved August 22, 2018.
  17. ^ Mitsuno, Raio (September 9, 2021). "Journey with Frey to Forspoken's fantastical world next spring". PlayStation Blog. Sony Interactive Entertainment. Retrieved September 14, 2021.

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