Nia Vardalos is the writer and star of the movie My Big Fat Greek Wedding, a low-budget, independently produced feature that became one of the biggest box office hits of 2002. Based on her own family background, the screenplay was adapted from Vardalos's stage play (she received financial support from actors Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson).
Made for under $5 million, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" was released in April 2002 by HBO Independent Productions with little if any pre-release fanfare-including virtually no television advertising or billboards-yet somehow the film was able to attract an audience.
The film's success catapulted Vardalos to national fame, and spawned 2003's My Big Fat Greek Life, a CBS television series based on the movie. The series, which had actually been picked up for development prior to the film's release after a CBS executive happened to catch Vardalos' show at the Just for Laughs International Comedy Festival in Montreal, was revamped at the last minute to pick up where the film left off rather than re-tell the courtship story.
Vardalos is married to actor Ian Gomez, who is of Russian Jewish and Puerto Rican descent and who appeared in her hit film My Big Fat Greek Wedding.
As of 2004, her latest work is the movie Connie and Carla, which co-starred Toni Collette.
- 1988 Took a job in the box office of Toronto's Second City theater; joined the performing troupe when she replaced an actress who fell ill 15 minutes before curtain
- 1990 Member of Chicago's Second City troupe
- 1995 Relocated to Hollywood, California
- 1996 Made feature debut in "No Experience Necessary"
- 1997 Voiced Domino in the short-lived television series "Team Knight Rider"
- 1999 Co-starred as Jessica in the independent comedy "Meet Prince Charming"
- 2000 Penned the one-woman stage play "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," based on her friends' recollection of humorous stories about her family and centered around her account of her wedding
- 2002 Wrote and starred in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" based on her one-woman stage play; received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy/Musical and an Oscar nomination for Original Screenplay
- 2003 Starred again as Toula Portokalos in the short-lived TV series "My Big Fat Greek Life" (CBS)
- 2004 Wrote screenplay and co-starred with Toni Collette in "Connie and Carla, as two women posing as drag queens on the run from the mob
- 2005 Cast in the ensemble feature "Living in Neon Dreams," starring Alan Cumming, Marilyn Manson, Daryl Hannah and Jonathan Pryce
- 2009 Starred in the movie “My Life In Ruins” as Georgia Yanokopoulos
- 2009 Wrote, directed and starred in “I Hate Valentine’s Day”
- 2016 Wrote and starred in My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 as Toula Portokalos