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Mena Suvari was born on 13 February 1979, in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
Smart, stylish, and probably older than you think, Mena Suvari is poised to become one of the busiest leading ladies of Generation Y. The petite actress inched her way into film, only to rocket into the spotlight with back-to-back performances in American Pie (1999) and American Beauty (1999). Now, with scripts pouring in and gossipmongers nipping at her heels, there's no going back to life as the girl next door.
Born in Newport, Rhode Island, and named after an Egyptian godmother, Suvari spent her early years in an old stone mansion that she insists was haunted. The family later relocated to Charleston, South Carolina, where her three older brothers lined up to attend the Citadel (a military college). Mena, meanwhile, was entertaining dreams of becoming an archaeologist, astronaut or doctor. Her interests took a turn for the... less cerebral, however, when a modeling agency stopped by her all-girls school to offer classes. At age 12, after receiving a few pointers on her runway strut, Suvari attended a modeling convention and was snapped up by the New York-based Wilhelmina agency.
She commuted up and down the East Coast for two years before her parents, Candice (a nurse) and Ando (a retired psychiatrist), decided to move their budding starlet to California. When she reached L.A., Suvari started in on TV work almost immediately--commercials at first, followed by guest appearances on "Boy Meets World" (1993), "ER" (1994) and "Chicago Hope" (1994). She launched her movie career in 1997, picking up small roles in Gregg Araki's Nowhere (1997) and the Morgan Freeman- Ashley Judd thriller Kiss the Girls (1997). She popped up again in the background of Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), then landed a slightly meatier role as the best friend of the telekinetic heroine in The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999).
Suvari's ticket to fame was the teen sex quest American Pie (1999), which cast her as a wholesome high-schooler who falls for a jock (Chris Klein). A few months later, she turned even more heads as the vampish cheerleader who captures Kevin Spacey's unwholesome imagination in American Beauty (1999). The sultry-but-fragile character earned Suvari a British Academy Award nomination, as well as a flurry of job offers and gushing fansites. In the midst of the hubbub surrounding the film, she slipped off with her boyfriend, cinematographer Robert Brinkmann, to tie the knot in a secret ceremony. The media was quick to point out the pair's 16-year age difference, but Suvari shrugged it off (her parents are separated by more than 20 years). The in-demand actress completed her patriotic hat trick by starring in American Virgin (2000) (originally titled "Live Virgin") as the daughter of a porn king. The title change wasn't enough of a boost to keep the mediocre movie afloat in theaters--after a brief New York run, it headed straight to video. Her next effort was another underperformer, but the aptly named Loser (2000) (a collegiate love story that reunited her with American Pie (1999)'s Jason Biggs) at least made it into suburban circulation--perhaps on the name recognition of its two young stars. Suvari kept her chin up, heading back to high school for the cheerleading/bank heist flick Sugar & Spice (2001) and joining the cast of the period film The Musketeer (2001).