Melina is a second-generation Greek-American who was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, as the youngest of three
sisters. Her retired father was an insurance salesman and her mother is a homemaker. Growing up, she spent many
hours in her family's candy store.
She began singing locally with her sisters and made her acting debut at 8 years old in a community theater
production of "Tom Sawyer." In high school, she would troop over to the all-boys Jesuit school to work
on stage ("They really needed girls for their plays."). She was a runner-up in the Miss Ohio beauty
Kanakaredes attended Ohio State University to study music, dance and theater, but the lack of unity between the
theater and music departments prompted her to opt for a conservatory education. She transferred to Point Park
College in Pittsburgh, which was affiliated with the Pittsburgh Playhouse, and she soon appeared in commercials,
industrial films and on stage at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Pittsburgh Public Theatre. She graduated magna cum
laude with a bachelor of fine arts in theater and moved to New York City, where she supported her acting dreams by
working on a dinner boat and in off-Broadway plays.
Eventually, Kanakaredes was spotted by a William Morris agent, and from 1991-95, she portrayed Greek immigrant
Eleni Andros Cooper and earned two Emmy nominations in the daytime drama "The Guiding Light." This led
to being cast in a recurring role as Jimmy Smitsí girlfriend in "NYPD Blue." In 1995 she co-starred in
the drama series "New York News" and was a co-lead in the drama "Leaving L.A." She
guest-starred in "The Practice" and "Oz," as well as in the television movie "Saint
Maybe." Her feature films include the recent "Rounders," "Dangerous Beauty" and "The
Long Kiss Goodnight."
Known for researching her projects, she visited a coroner's office for "Leaving L.A." and plastic
surgeons for "Providence." She was cast for "Providence" without an audition and the other
members of the cast were chosen on the basis of their chemistry with her.
Last summer, Kanakaredes starred opposite Robert DeNiro in "Fifteen Minutes." The film is scheduled for
release by New Line in 2000.
Away from the set, Kanakaredes enjoys visiting her family in Ohio, reading, swimming, working out with the Pilates
system, traveling (especially to Greece), listening to James Taylor, and is a sports fan of the Cleveland Indians
and Chicago Bulls.
She met her husband, Peter Constantinides, a professional chef, at Ohio State in Sigma Epsilon Phi, a group for
Greek-American students. Her extended family is so large that she and her husband invited 550 guests to their 1992
wedding. The couple reside in Los Angelesí San Fernando Valley.
Her birthday is April 23, 1967.
Biography courtesy National Broadcasting Company and People Weekly.