Born in Winnipeg, Canada on September 24, 1962, Nia Vardalos got her start by performing at a local theater before joining the Second City comedy troupe. She then moved to Los Angeles for a variety of bit parts on television shows, including a longer stint in Team Knight Rider. Her one-woman play, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was made into a major hit independent film in 2002, and a TV show a year later. After a variety of additional screen projects, Vardolos served as star, producer and screenwriter for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 in 2016.
Background and Early Career
Actor and writer Antonia Eugenia Vardalos was born on September 24, 1962, in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. An outgoing girl since childhood, Vardalos began her professional acting career at the Rainbow Stage, a local theater company that helped her land a scholarship to Toronto's Ryerson University in 1986. Two years later, she joined Toronto's Second City theater troupe, moving to Chicago's Second City stage shortly thereafter. After moving to Los Angeles to continue acting, Vardalos received bit parts on sitcoms like The Drew Carey Show.
'My Big Fat Greek Wedding'
Drawing on her eccentric Greek upbringing, as well as stories shared by her Greek friends, Vardalos soon began penning a stage play entitled My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The one-woman play drew the attention of actress Rita Wilson and husband Tom Hanks, who agreed to turn it into a film, with Vardalos serving as screenwriter. For a paltry $5 million, My Big Fat Greek Wedding debuted in 2002 to become the sleeper hit of the year. With virtually no television or billboard advertising, the independent film drew record numbers by sheer word-of-mouth momentum, eventually earning almost $370 million worldwide. In February 2003, CBS briefly ran a follow-up sitcom My Big Fat Greek Life, which featured much of the same cast.
In 2004, Vardalos wrote and costarred with Toni Collette in another film, Connie and Carla, about two women who go undercover as drag queens. After a variety of additional screen projects over the years, Vardalos returned in 2016 with the sequel My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, serving as star, screenwriter and producer for the project.
Vardalos married actor Ian Gomez in September 1993.
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