Spotlight on JoAnna Garcia Swisher

JoAnna Garcia Swisher’s star is rising. Landing the top role in an upcoming comedy pilot, the actress will lead a primetime show once again.

The Florida-born Latina got her first big break in high school when she was cast on Nickelodeon’s “Are You Afraid of the Dark?” Ever since then, she has starred in hit shows, such as “Reba,” “Privileged” and “Gossip Girl.” But it was playing Mia Putney, the lead in the hit comedy “Better With You,” that secured her place as a young comedic actress to watch.

If the 32-year-old’s work accomplishments impress, then her off-camera efforts inspire. Last June, Garcia Swisher teamed up with Merck to launch the Let’s Go There campaign, an initiative to encourage women to talk to their doctors about birth control options. “As the daughter of an OB/GYN, I learned from an early age the importance of educating myself to better understand my health options,” said Garcia Swisher last summer.

To top it off, last Thanksgiving, Garcia Swisher and her husband -- New York Yankees outfielder Nick Swisher -- finally took their overdue honeymoon (they married in December 2010) to Afghanistan. But this wasn’t just an adventurous trip to a rugged country. They were there to cheer on the troops. “I think we had about eight different Thanksgiving meals,” said Garcia Swisher afterward. “We’ve made friends for a lifetime.”

Photo:  Getty Images

by Shirley Velásquez