When Darren Star launched the Beverly Hills, 90210 spinoff Melrose Place in 1992, he based one main character on his former college roommate, Daphne Zuniga. Zuniga would go on to actually star in the show—not as waitress Alison Parker, who was based on her, but as photographer Jo Reynolds, a role she would play for four seasons until leaving the soap in 1996.
Zuniga has led an active life in the decades since she left the show, often crossing paths with her former Melrose Place co-stars. Read on to find out where she is now at age 59.
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She took up residence in One Tree Hill.
By the time she joined Melrose Place, Zuniga was already known for starring in the 1980s movies The Sure Thing, opposite John Cusack, and Spaceballs, playing Princess Vespa, as well as making appearances on Family Ties. Her acting career continued over the decades to come with roles on television dramas including American Dreams and Beautiful People, indie films like Those Left Behind, and a number of Lifetime and Hallmark movies. Perhaps most memorably, she joined the series One Tree Hill in 2008 as Brooke’s (Sophia Bush) mother Victoria Davis, a role she played until the series’ end 2012.
She directed her first feature film.
Zuniga made her directorial debut with Deadly Assistant, a Lifetime thriller about a woman unraveling the truth behind her sister’s death, which aired on the network in 2019. That same year, she told HollywoodLife that she was working on a second film, an indie feature called The Waiting Room, although there’s been no official news about it since then.
She’s an environmental and equality activist.
Inspired by childhood trips to national parks and an experience with mercury poisoning after consuming fish, Zuniga has been active in environmental causes for decades. She was a founding board member of Earth Communications Office (ECO), a nonprofit devoted to harnessing the entertainment industry for environmental purposes and was also appointed to the board of the Los Angeles River Revitalization Corp., a nonprofit aiming to bring the LA River back . In 2008, she spoke out about environmental justice in a piece for the HuffPost and in 2011 was awarded the CLCV Environmental Leadership Award from the California Environmental Voters for her leadership.
In addition to her environmental work, Zuniga has also worked with the feminist organization Equality Now to promote women’s rights and equality.
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She draws inspiration from meditation.
Zuniga often speaks about her meditation practice and has attended several multi-day meditation retreats over the years. She has described the experience as revelatory, calling it in a 2005 interview, “the most powerfully shifting thing” that helped her face and become free of “fears of success, of relationships, and of love.”
She married for the first time at 56.
In 2019, Zuniga married her long-time beau David Mleczkothe co-founder of a public relations and marketing firm for sustainable organizations, in a small ceremony officiated by mindfulness writer Sharon Salzberg. It is the first marriage for the actor, who had met her husband on a blind date more than a decade earlier, in 2006.
“I…associated marrying someone with giving up who I was,” she wrote for the glamor of why she married later in life. “And the last thing I wanted was to feel pressure to give up a career that I had worked so hard for.”
She reunited with her co-stars on new shows.
Zuniga reprized the role of Jo Reynolds for The CW’s one-season Melrose Place reboot in 2009 and told The Wrap in 2019 that she would be “totally open to” another revival. Fans don’t have to wait to see her reunite with many of her past co-stars, however, as she’s recently appeared with them on a couple of other Aaron Spelling reboot. In 2021, she and former co-stars Josie Bisett other Laura Leighton Visited Fantasy Island, playing three friends celebrating their 50th birthdays. In 2022, she guest-starred on an episode of the CW’s Dynasty with her Melrose Place love interest, grant show. And she starred in the 2019 Lifetime movie Gates of Paradise as wicked Nurse Broadbent alongside fellow Star/Spelling alumnus Jason Priestley.
The actor also stays close with many of her Melrose Place co-stars socially. Earlier this summer, she met up with Leighton and Courtney Thorne-Smith for lunch, sharing a shot from the reunion with her Instagram followers.