Born on October 29, 1971, in Winona, Minnesota, Winona is a seasoned award winning actress. She was named after the city in Minnesota where she was born. Winona's parents, Michael and Cindy Horowitz were hippie intellectuals, and family friends include poet Allen Ginsberg, and Timothy Leary, who was Winona's godfather. She is the third of four siblings ,including one half-brother and one half-sister from her mothers first marriage.
Winona had a very interesting childhood. She lived briefly in Colombia with Chilean revolutionaries before returning to northern California in 1974 with her parents. Her family then moved to a commune in Mendocino, where they lived for four years without television or electricity. In the early 80's, the family relocated to Petaluma, California.
At the age of 12, her parents encouraged her to enroll in the American Conservatory Theater in San Francisco. Winona graduated from Petaluma High School, with a 4.0 grade point average. Throughout her high school career, Winona's parents tutored her at home whenever necessary to accommodate her acting career.
In 1985, while at the American Conservatory Theater, Winona performed a monologue chosen from J.D. Salinger's Franny & Zooey. Deborah Lucchesi, a talent scout, spotted her, and arranged for Winona to take a screen test for the upcoming film "Desert Bloom", starring Jon Voight and Ellen Barkin. Winona did not get this part, but it wasn't long before she was cast in her debut role as Rina in David Seltzer's coming-of-age-film "Lucas". She shot the film during her summer vacation then entered eighth grade in the fall.
As a young actress, Winona had unusual success. Her waifish beauty and her ability to portray innocence with world savvy characters landed her some great teenage roles. Following the positive reception of "Lucas", Winona appeared in the Golden Globe nominated drama "Square Dance". She then did a comic turn as the frustrated daughter of oblivious yuppie parents in Tim Burton's "Beetlejuice". In 1990, Winona appeared in "Mermaids", featuring Cher, and was nominated for a Golden Globe and won a Best Supporting Actress Award from the National Board of Review for her role.
Winona backed out of a role in Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather III" due to exhaustion. She checked herself into a mental health facility to be treated for the depression and anxiety that she had been intermittently suffering from for years. Within a week of her hospitalization, she decided that her treatment was not helping and opted to return to her home in San Francisco.
Winona's performance in Martin Scorsese's Oscar-winning "The Age of Innocence", was a tremendous success, costarring Daniel Day-Lewis and Michelle Pfeiffer. She won a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for an Academy Award.
Winona has been romantically linked to actor Johnny Depp, to whom she was engaged for three years. Depp tattooed "Winona Forever" on his arm, and has since had it partially removed so that it now reads, "Wino Forever". After her heavily publicized breakup with Depp, she dated David Pirner, the lead singer for the rock group Soul Asylum, from 1993 to 1996. She began dating actor Matt Damon in 1998, after the two met at a New Year's Eve party. Most recently, Winona has had a host of well publicized legal problems involving felony accusations, and it will be interesting to see how this affects her future.