as Stella Bonasera
With her genuine smile, earthy beauty, and striking green eyes, Melina Kanakaredes staked her claim on daytime television in The Guiding Light before expanding her talents to numerous other popular series and, eventually, the silver screen.
Born and raised in Akron, OH, the second-generation Greek-American was the third daughter of an insurance salesman and homemaker who began her career as an actress in a community theater production of Tom Sawyer at the age of eight. Later enrolling in Ohio State University to study music, dance, and theater but disheartened at poor inter-departmental relations, Kanakaredes opted for a conservatory education at Point Park College in Pittsburgh. Soon performing with the Pittsburgh Playhouse and appearing in commercials and industrial videos, Kanakaredes moved to New York after graduating magna cum laude and began working in dinner boat theater and off-Broadway productions. Taking her role as Greek immigrant Eleni Andros Cooper in The Guiding Light after being spotted by the William Morris Agency in 1991, Kanakaredes was nominated for two Emmys and soon began to expand to roles on NYPD Blue and OZ. Soon turning up in such features as The Long Kiss Goodnight and Rounders, the natural beauty began to gain even more footing in her feature aspirations with her turn in the Robert DeNiro heist-thriller The Score in 2001. ~ Jason Buchanan, All Movie Guide