Ponce began his acting career by participating in Spanish language soap operas for Televisa and Telemundo. Ponce continued to expand his acting career by participating in various American television series. He did not limit himself solely to a career in television. Ponce, who is also a singer, is also active in the American movie industry as a character actor.
Ponce was born Carlos Ponce Freyre in Santurce, Puerto Rico. His parents, Carlos Ponce, Sr. and Esther Freyre, emigrated from Cuba after the Cuban Revolution led by Fidel Castro. After his birth, the family moved to Humacao, where Ponce was raised. As a child, he actively participated in his school's plays and at home he would often put on a show for the family where he would sing the latest tunes. "Carlitos", as he is known in Puerto Rico, started to appear in television commercials at the age of six. He attended high school in Humacao and was a member of the school's drama club.
In 1986, the Ponce family moved to Miami, Florida and Ponce continued to participate in his school's productions at South Miami Senior High. He was named the best student actor of the southern region of the United States.
In 1990, Ponce participated in the Southeastern Theatre Conference and competed for the chance to win a scholarship. He won and enrolled in the New World School of the Arts conservatory. However, the Spanish-language television station Univision offered Ponce the opportunity to host a show called Hablando (Talking). This was his first serious television debut and after his debut he gave up his university studies.
After the show came to its end, Ponce went to Mexico to visit a friend. While there he visited the Televisa television station. The talent director of the station met Ponce and offered Ponce his first role in a soap opera: Guadalupe, starring Adela Noriega and Eduardo Yáñez. He participated in another soap opera for Televisa, Sentimientos Ajenos, in which he played the main character. Ponce also sang the theme song for the production. He received the "Actor Revelation of 1997 Award" by Eres magazine and named "Best Actor" by TV y Novelas magazine (both are Mexican publications).
In between productions, Ponce returned to Miami and Univision hired him as the host of a new show, Control. He hosted the show for three years and won an "ACE Award".
In 2003, Ponce joined Entertainment Tonight as a correspondent. He also hosted An Entertainment Tonight Event — Celebrity Weddings Unveiled, a CBS primetime special. Ponce hosted the 2006 Miss Universe pageant in Los Angeles, with Shandi Finnessey, Nancy O'Dell and Carson Kressley. In 2007, he starred in the Telemundo NBC Universal telenovela Dame Chocolate (Give Me Chocolate) alongside Génesis Rodríguez and Karla Monroig. Ponce also starred in Perro Amor in 2010 on the same network. In 2012, Ponce began hosting the hit Puerto Rican singing competition for kids on Wapa Television called Idol Kids Puerto Rico. In 2013, Ponce appeared on Telemundo's Santa Diabla as Humberto Cano.
From 2014-2015 Ponce co-starred in the ABC comedy Cristela as Felix, the male lead on the show.
In 1998, Emilio Estefan Jr. and Kike Santander signed Ponce to a record contract. His first album was entitled Carlos Ponce, and included three of his own compositions. The album reached the #1 spot in the Latin Billboardsfor nine weeks in the Hispanic community of the United States. It also reached the #1 spot in Central America and South America. He was Awarded a Double Platinum Award for the sales which his album generated.
On the Billboard Hot Latin Tracks Carlos Ponce reached the number-one spot three times with "Rezo" (I Pray), "Decir Adiós" (Say Good-Bye) and "Escúchame" (Listen to Me).
In 1999, Ponce received many awards, including:
- "Best Pop Album" from Billboard magazine
- "Artist Revelation" from Premios Lo Nuestro and
- "Pop Ballad Revelation of the Year" from Premios Tu Musica de Puerto Rico.
During this period he also made his debut in American television with his participation in the TV series Beverly Hills, 90210 and 7th Heaven where he played the on-screen husband of Jessica Biel's character Mary Camden. He also made guest appearances in Live with Regis and Kathie Lee and in Donny & Marie.
In 1999, Ponce recorded his second studio album, Todo lo que Soy (Everything that I Am). The World Athletic Games held in Seville, Spain adopted the song "Amelia" from Ponce's second album as its official theme. That same year, he was contracted by the Walt Disney Studios to vocalize the song "Bella Notte" for the animated film, Lady and the Tramp II: Scamp's Adventure. He also appeared in ABC's drama series Once and Again.
After the tragedy of the September 11, 2001 attacks, Ponce joined a group of 100 Latin American singers, who united to pay tribute to the victims by recording "Ultimo Adios" ("Last Good-Bye"). The proceeds of the recording were donated to families of the victims. That same year Ponce participated in Televisa production, Sin Pecado Concebido, along with Mexican actress, Angélica Rivera. In 2002, he recorded his third studio album, Ponce; later that year he signed a contract with Telemundo to host a reality show called Protagonista de la Musica", which became one of the most popular Hispanic programs in the U.S. and Puerto Rico.
In 2006, Ponce participated in the controversial recording of the Spanish-language version of the Star-Spangled Banner, called "Nuestro Himno", alongside Wyclef Jean, Gloria Trevi and Olga Tañón. That same year Ponce also played a role in a Lifetime movie, Break-In. A Suspense Thriller, A nightmare honeymoon for newlyweds vacationing at a remote location in the Caribbean when intruders take them hostage in the middle of the night.
In May 2008, VH1 began a search for America's "numero uno telenovela star" and will chronicle the journey to stardom in its newest original series, "¡Viva Hollywood!". The "¡Viva Hollywood!" cast of aspiring Latino and Latina telenovela stars will move into the "Casa De Locos" where they must master the "7 Deadly Sins of Telenovelas": passion, lust, charisma, drama, fire, seduction and scandal. The "sins" are disciplines each cast member must learn in order to capture the over-the-top style and flair of a true telenovela star and impress the celebrity judges: the award-winning actress and singer María Conchita Alonso and accomplished actor singer/song-writer Carlos Ponce. International celebrity astrologer and Latino legend, Walter Mercado, will appear in each episode to give the contestants guidance on their journey and alert the cast of their upcoming challenges. Daisy Fuentes, Angélica Vale, Charo, Cristián de la Fuente, Lorena Rojas, María Celeste Arrarás and Perez Hilton have signed on as celebrity guest judges that will assist in determining who gets to stay and who will need to go. Each week contestants up for elimination discover their fate by watching their own over the top telenovela death scenes. Ponce started in the second season of Lipstick Jungle, where he played a character called "Rodrigo". He has noted that he selected the program because it could "benefit" his career.
Ponce married his high school sweetheart, photographer Veronica Rubio (who is the sister of current U.S. Senator Marco Rubio). They resided in Miami, Florida with their four children, Giancarlo (born 1999), Sebastián (born 2001), and twins Savannah and Sienna (born 2002). In 2010, the couple divorced. From 2010 to 2015 he was in a relationship with Colombian actress Ximena Duque.
In 2003, Ponce played himself in the movie Chasing Papi alongside fellow Latinos: Puerto Ricans Roselyn Sánchez, Lisa Vidal, Walter Mercado, Colombian actress Sofía Vergara, and Latin pop singer Jaci Velásquez. After this experience, he left for New Zealand, where he participated in the independent film Meet Me in Miami.
In 2005, Ponce briefly appeared in the movie Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo. In 2006, Ponce lent his voice to the controversial recording of the Spanish-language version of "the Star-Spangled Banner", entitled "Nuestro Himno", alongside Wyclef Jean, Gloria Trevi and Olga Tañón.
He hosted the Miss Universe 2006 pageant in Los Angeles, along with Shandi Finnessey, Nancy O'Dell and Carson Kressley. He also appears in the movie Just My Luck, with Lindsay Lohan, Chris Pine and McFly.
Ponce was cast as Salvadore, a sexy yoga instructor, in the 2009 comedy Couples Retreat.