Lana Maria Parrilla was born in Brooklyn, New York. Her father, Sam Parrilla, was a Puerto Rican-born baseball player who played professionally for 11 seasons, including one season with the Major League Philadelphia Phillies in 1970 as an outfielder. Her mother is an American painter of Sicilian descent who works in banking. Parrilla has one older sister, Deena, and a nephew named Sammy. She is also the niece of character actress Candice Azzara. Parrilla's parents legally divorced when she was four years old. She spent her first ten years living with her mother, and then lived with her father. During the time she lived with her father, he was too protective to allow her to attend a performing arts school, which delayed her acting career. Parrilla lived with her father until his murder in 1994, when she was 16. Her father was shot once in the chest by a 15-year-old female assailant at point blank range. After high school she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career in acting. She studied voice for ten years. Parrilla then began to be cast in small parts and later on, larger ones. Parrilla visited Granada in 2007 to learn Spanish.
In her early career, Parrilla appeared in several movies, including Very Mean Men (2000), Spiders (2000), Replicant (2001) and Frozen Stars (2003). She made her television debut in 1999, on the UON sitcom Grown Ups. She is best known for her role in the ABC adventure fantasy dramat, Once Upon a Time.
Parrilla's performance also received positive reviews from critics. In 2012 and 2013, she was regarded as a promising contender for an Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series category, though she did not receive a nomination. She won the TV Guide Award for Favorite Villain and the ALMA Award for Outstanding Actress in a Drama Series in 2012. Parrilla also received a nomination for Best Supporting Actress on Television from the 38th Saturn Awards.
Parrilla became engaged to boyfriend Fred Di Blasio on April 28, 2013, while in Israel. The two were married in the summer of 2014. Parrilla is the stepmother to Di Blasio's three sons: Jack, Patrick, and Matthew.