Evelina Fernandez was born in East Los Angeles, California, the youngest of five children. When she was six months old, her family moved to Phoenix, Arizona, where she lived until 1964 when her parents were divorced. She then returned to East Los Angeles to live with her grandparents, mother, and siblings. Evelina began writing short stories and speeches in elementary school and tried her hand at acting in junior high productions. In high school she admits she attended only drama, choir, and typing classes. She dropped out of school at seventeen and attended beauty school but dropped out when she realized "she was not good at combing hair." At nineteen she was married and celebrated with a big, traditional Mexican wedding, but she was divorced "before her family had paid off the bill."
Fernandez attended East Los Angeles College, California State University, where she became involved in Chicano theatre and the Chicano movement, which was working to defend the rights of undocumented workers. She also made three trips to Cuba with the Venceremos Brigade during the 1970s and 1980s. In 1978 Fernandez began her professional acting career by playing Della in Luis Valdez Zoot Suit.
In 1981 she met Jose Luis Valenzuela and began working with him at El Teatro de La Esperanza, touring nationally and internationally with the troupe during the next four years. It was during this period that Evelina Fernandez resumed her writing while she was learning the collective creation process.
In 1984 she and Jose Luis moved back to East Los Angeles where she continues her work in theatre, film, and television. She starred with Edward James Olmos in the critically acclaimed 1992 film American Me and won a Golden