“She's breathtaking and the talent is obvious. But what is not obvious is that she is so genuine. She comes from an extraordinary family. She has remained a wonderful human being. That's what I find so attractive.” Casting director Canice Kennedy on Melina Kanakaredes
Daytime Emmy nominated actress Melina Kanakaredes first came to the attention of the public playing Greek immigrant Eleni Andros on the CBS daytime series “Guiding Light” from 1991 to 1995. Delivering an outstanding performance, she netted two Soap Opera Digest nominations and her Daytime Emmy nominations. On prime time TV, the green eyed performer is most famous for her portrayals of Dr. Sydney Hansen on the NBC critically acclaimed series “Providence” (1999-2002), from which she won a TV Guide Award, and Detective Stella Bonasera on the CBS popular police drama “CSI: New York” (2004-present). She has also acted in several films, including “Bleeding Hearts” (1994), “Dangerous Beauty” (1998), John Dahl's “Rounders” (1998) and “Into the Fire” (2005).
Childhood and Family:
Melina Eleni Kanakaredes was born on April 23, 1967, in Akron, Ohio, to Harry and Connie Kanakaredes, who worked as an insurance salesman and a homemaker, respectively. She grew up in a Greek-American family and has two older sisters, Aretta and Lia. After graduating from Firestone High School in Akron, Melina briefly attended Ohio State University, where she studied music, dance and theater, before transferring to Point Park College in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In 1989, she graduated magna cum laude with a BFA in theater.
On September 6, 1992, Melina tied the knot with Peter Constantinides, a chef and restaurateur whom she met in 1989. She gave birth to a daughter named Zoe Constantinides on May 23, 2000. Her second daughter, Karina Eleni, was born on January 25, 2003, in Los Angeles, California. Melina and her husband own the Tria Greek Kuzina restaurant in Powell, Ohio.
Born and raised in Akron, Melina Kanakaredes became involved in dance and theatrical productions when she was a teenager. While pursuing her studies in Pittsburgh, she appeared in commercials, industrial films and on stage at the Pittsburgh Playhouse and Pittsburgh Public Theatre. With a BFA degree in theater, the former runner up in the Miss Ohio beauty pageant headed to New York City in 1989 to become a full time performer.
Her early years in New York City were filled with work on a dinner boat and in off-Broadway plays until she was discovered by a William Morris agent. Kanakaredes then appeared in a number of TV commercials in 1991, including ads for Kmart, Hyundai, Sony, Diet Rite and Rave. She did not enjoy her first real breakthrough until she was cast as Greek immigrant Eleni Andros Cooper on the CBS daytime soap opera “Guiding Light.” In the series, she portrayed Eleni from 1991 to 1995, during which time her character transferred from an innocent girl to a more mature wife and mother. For her good performance, the actress was handed Daytime Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series (1994, 1995) and Soap Opera Digest nominations for Outstanding Female Newcomer, Daytime (1992) and Hottest Female Star (1994).
Kanakaredes' first feature film role arrived when she landed a supporting role in “Bleeding Hearts” (1994), the Gregory Hines portrait of an interracial romance. The following year, she made her primetime debut in ABC's “NYPD Blue” and portrayed Victoria Metcalf on the two part finale of CBS' “Due South.” Later that same year, the actress became a series regular in the short lived CBS drama “New York News,” where she portrayed journalist Angela Villanova.
After a small role in “The Long Kiss Goodnight” (1996), an action film starring Geena Davis and Samuel L. Jackson, Kanakaredes starred with Christopher Meloni on the ABC drama “Leaving L.A.” (1997), but the series only lasted six episodes. She followed it up with guest roles on such shows as “The Practice” (1997, as Andrea Wexler) and “Oz” (1998, as Marilyn Crenshaw) and a supporting role opposite Blythe Danner and Edward Herrmann in the television movie “Saint Maybe” (1999). She also appeared in the historical drama “Dangerous Beauty” and John Dahl's “Rounders,” which starred Matt Damon and Edward Norton (both 1998).
In 1999, Kanakaredes hit the big time when she won the role of Dr. Sydney Hansen on the series “Providence,” which aired on NBC until 2002. Costarring with Seth Peterson as a successful California-based plastic surgeon who moved back to her New England home, she took home a 2000 TV Guide award for Favorite Actress in a Drama. Her increasing popularity was confirmed when she was hired to become a celebrity spokesperson for Maybelline in 2001 and appeared in their national television and print campaigns.
Kanakaredes next supported Robert De Niro in the action film “15 Minutes” (2001), where she played TV journalist Nicolette Karas. She then portrayed Sally Bowles in a revival of the Broadway play “Cabaret” and costarred with Sean Patrick Flanery and JoBeth Williams in the independent drama “Into the Fire” (2005), which was written and directed by Michael Phelan.
Beginning in May 2004, Melina has starred opposite Gary Sinise on the hit dramatic series “CSI: New York,” where she plays forensic investigator Stella Bonasera.
TV Guide: Favorite Actress in a Drama, “Providence,” 2000