07/06/1998 at 01:00 AM EDT
Eight years ago, Jacqueline Obradors was ringing up groceries at a Malibu supermarket when fate stepped up to her register. In a real-life version of a Hollywood cliché, shopper Rocco Urbisci, a TV producer, took note and cast the stunning brunette in a pilot. "It failed, but Obradors subsequently landed bit parts on TV while checking out groceries for locals like Mel Gibson. But in 1994 she checked out of the $15-an-hour gig entirely to throw herself into acting. Not without second thoughts. When auditioning for the plum role of Angelica, the fun-loving island girl who seduces David Schwimmer in Six Days, Seven Nights, Obradors recalls thinking, " 'I don't have a shot at this job.' "
Wrong. The 31-year-old ingenue beat out more than 150 competitors by charming star Harrison Ford and director Ivan Reitman with a quirky, if improvised, Latin accent. On the film's Hawaii set, she proved even more ambidextrous. After a scene in which she gives Ford a back massage in bed, Obradors recalls telling him," 'You know, I've got the best job today' He said, 'No, you don't. I do.' "
Obradors, who grew up in a close-knit Catholic family in the San Fernando Valley, was uncomfortable explaining her risqué scenes to her Argentine-immigrant parents Albert, 76, the retired owner of an office-cleaning business, and church worker Angie, 68. Jackie, says boyfriend John Garcia, an actor she met while filming a Tater Tots commercial, is "very spiritual."
Not to mention enterprising. Obradors, who rents a Spanish-style, two-bedroom house in L.A., is shopping for a new manager. "While you're the flavor of the month," she explains matter-of-factly, "you've got to play it up."