The Greek-American beauty Maria Menounos has been a natural fit for entertainment since she started pursuing pageantry as a teen. Born on June 8, 1978, in Medford, Massachusetts, Maria debuted in beauty pageants at 17 and a year later, she won the Miss Massachusetts Teen USA crown, sending her to Miss Teen USA. Although she didn’t win, she later competed for Miss Massachusetts USA in 2000 and finished as the first runner-up.
Maria Menounos’ parents wanted her to work on something more practical in college than acting, but she took a liking to performing and producing. She showed her skills in a handful of independent films before learning how to do journalistic duties in front of the camera at Emerson College. By 2001, her talents won her a spot on Channel One News, and she scored a one-on-one interview with President Bush, a mark that her career was on the upswing.
Through a pageant, Maria Menounos was introduced to Entertainment Tonight cohost Bob Goen, and she seized the opportunity. As luck would have it, she earned a place on the show in 2002 as a reporter. Maria Menounos covered all areas of entertainment news with ET, and her superiors were so pleased that they offered her a chance to work on their MTV and VH1 spin-off. By 2005, though, Maria Menounos wanted a change and she found it.
Maria Menounos wanted to get back into acting, so she quit Entertainment Tonight and secured a deal with NBC/Universal that would let her act and also work on television. As a result, Maria began to pop up in all media. Fantastic Four was her big movie break in 2005 opposite the Human Torch, Chris Evans. On TV, Maria Menounos split her time between talk shows The Today Show and Access Hollywood, but also found her way onto established series like Without a Trace, One Tree Hill and Scrubs. Clearly, Maria Menounos was wasting no time in taking advantage of her more flexible work schedule.
In 2007, Maria Menounos equally divided her time between television, acting and social causes. Kickin’ It Old Skool marked her comedy debut with Jamie Kennedy, and In the Land of Merry Misfits, a film she produced at age 17 and later restored from lost elements, played at the 2007 Tribeca Film Festival. She also served as the host for Clash of the Choirs, a music-based reality series that served as a personal throwback to Maria Menounos’ own days singing in school choirs.
Maria’s sexual sparks and hard-earned success are two reasons for her inclusion in AskMen.com’s Top 99 of 2009, but her continued generosity toward others can’t be ignored either. Maria Menounos takes time to devote herself to charitable causes, with her most well-known endeavor being Take Action Hollywood, an organization that uses celebrities to bring attention to social causes.
In 2010, Maria Menounos will both produce and star in the dark comedy Serial Buddies.