By Jessica Michele Herring ( | First Posted: Sep 18, 2013 04:40 PM EDT

(Photo : Matt Hoyle/CBS)

Cote de Pablo is best known for playing an Israeli Mossad officer turned NCIS agent on the hit drama "NCIS." Yet, the Chilean actress has accomplished a great deal beyond her "NCIS" role, including roles in musical theater and Latino entertainment. 

De Pablo's, whose birth name is María José de Pablo Fernández, was born in 1979 in Santiago, Chile to Maria Olga Fernandez and Francisco de Pablo. According to Cote de Pablos' website, when de Pablo was 10 years old, her mother got a job with Latino-American television station Telemundo, which prompted her family's move to Miami, FL. While in elementary school, many of her peers could not pronounce her name, so she insisted they call her "Cote" instead, a common Chilean nickname for María José.

She gained her first acting experience at the young age of 15 as a co-host on the Latin-themed talk show "Control" with Carlos Ponce. Cote later attended Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned a BFA in Acting and Musical Theater.  While in college, she performed in many plays and musical theater productions such as "The Fantasticks" and "A Little Night Music."

After she graduated, she moved to New York to break into acting, where she had to work as a waitress to support herself. She eventually gained parts in New York City Public Theater productions and the soap opera "All My Children." Right before she was about to make her Broadway debut in "The Mambo Kings" in 2005, the show closed after a trial run in San Francisco. Two days after closing, de Pablo was approached to audition for "NCIS."

The producers of the show had her read with her co-star, Michael Weatherly, to see if the two had chemistry. Weatherly went offscript, and brushed de Pablo's hair back, saying, "You remind me of Salma Hayek." De Pablo stayed in character and shrugged off his come-on. Producer Donald Bellisario liked the performance so much that he met de Pablo while she was waiting to catch a cab back to the airport to tell her that she snagged the role. 

Cote de Pablo's role of Israeli NCIS officer Ziva David quickly became a fan favorite. Yet, de Pablo announced this year that she will not be returning to "NCIS" in order to pursue other acting opportunities. Hence, de Pablo's Ziva will depart from the show within the first two episodes of upcoming season 11. 

"NCIS" executive producer Gary Glasberg put out a statement regarding her departure, which was posted on Cote de

"I know Cote's decision was a shock to everybody. Us, too," Glasberg wrote. "But we need everyone to remember that, in addition to being a professional family, we're a television show, and change happens. Writers move on. Actors move on. Life, for some, interferes with work and then we rise to the occasion and adapt. Very often, extraordinary creativity comes out of adjustment. And so we find ourselves not dwelling on the past, but eager to guide you into the future of NCIS."

"Like I've said multiple times, we respect Cote's decision immensely and wish her all the best. The amazing resolution you're going to see is pretty damn heart-wrenching and we're incredibly proud of it. Prepare yourselves for a moment in television history," Glasberg continued. 

De Pablo won an Imagen Award for her role on NCIS, as well as an ALMA Award for Favorite Television Actress for the role. 

It was recently announced that former "Sopranos" star Emily Wickersham will join NCIS as Ziva's successor. 

De Pablo has also appeared in the feature film "The Last Rites of Ransom Pride" and the TV series "The Jury" and "The Education of Max Bickford."

It is only a matter of time before Ziva fans see de Pablo back in action on the big or small screen. 

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