The former model burst onto the scene with her debut role as the love interest to Jim Carrey in 90s comedy, The Mask, and has since become one of the highest-paid actresses in Hollywood.
Born in California, Diaz's mother, Billie, was in import-export agent, while her father, Emilio, spent 20 years in the employ of Californian oli company, UNOCAL.
Emilio was a second-generation Cuban American, while Cameron's mother Billie has German, English and Native American ancestral roots.
Diaz attended Long Beach Polytechnic High School at the same time as rapper Snoop Dogg, and immediately began a career in modelling after graduation, signing with top modelling agency, Elite Model Management.
A job in Japan introduced her to video director Carlos de la Torre, and the pair began a five-year relationship, as Diaz's modelling career blossomed. Jetting around the world, Cameron donned clothes for the likes of Calvin Klein and Levi's, and appeared on the cover of various magazines.
It was in 1992 when Diaz appeared in a softcore S&M video called She's No Angel, shot by photographer John Rutter. 11 years later Diaz won an injunction against Rutter, stopping him from releasing the video to the public. However, much to Diaz's anger, scenes and images appeared on illegal download sites soon after.
At the age of 21, Diaz decided to audition for the female lead in The Mask, despite having no acting experience whatsoever. Having won the role, Diaz immediately began acting lessons. Her performance earned rave reviews in a movie that registered as one of the biggest grossers of 1994.
The following three years saw Diaz choose numerous low-budget, independent projects, including The Last Supper (1995), Feeling Minnesota (1996), She's The One (1996) and A Life Less Ordinary (1996), the Danny Boyle fanatsy/ comedy in which she starred opposite Ewan MacGregor.
Her next mainstream role was 1997's My Best Friend's Wedding, with Julia Roberts, but it was 1998's There's Something About Mary that sealed Diaz's status as a Hollywood star.
The Farrelly brothers gross-out comedy was a huge hit with critics and moviegoers alike, and earned Diaz a Golden Globe nomination.
The actress also became romantically involved with co-star Mat Dillon, but the relationship ended after three years, and Diaz became involved with actor Jared Leto for another three years, and then became one half of the hugely famous celebrity pairing when she began dating singer Justin Timberlake in 2003.
Diaz received even more acclaim with her next comedy, Spike Jonze's Being John Malkovich, in which she played a character far departed form the glamourous, beautiful women she had become associated with.
Towards the end of the 90s Diaz became rather prolific, appearing in numerous movies including the commercial flops, Very Bad Things and Any Given Sunday, as well as the mega-hit, Charlie's Angels. During the promotional tour for the all-girl action vehicle, which coincided with the US election, Diaz was spotted in a pro-Al Gore T-shirt emblazoned with the words, "I won't vote for a son of a Bush".
The 2001 drama, Vanilla Sky, saw more nominations go Diaz's way, as she played Tom Cruise's betrayed girlfriend who causes a crash which leaves him disfigured. At the same time, the actress was paid a reported $10m for lending her vocals to Princess Fiona in the first Shrek movie.
In 2003 Martin Scorsese offered Diaz the female lead in Gangs Of New York, and later that year Diaz became just the third actress to receive a $20m pay cheque, this time for the Charlie's Angels sequel, Full Throttle.
More recently, Diaz has earned a reported $50m for a selection of ovies, including In Her Shoes, What Happens In Vegas, and the first two Shrek sequels.
Critical flops My Sister's Keeper and The Box haven't dented her pulling power, particularly given the films' box office takings, and this year Diaz will once again add the voice to Princess Fiona, and reunite with her Vanilla Sky co-star, Tom Cruise, for the romantic action thriller, Knight & Day.