Nia Vardalos is an actress, screenwriter, and producer. Vardalos was made famous with the 2002 film My Big Fat Greek Wedding, which she wrote and c-produced.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a movie that proved the effectiveness that positive word of mouth can have. My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a low-budget independent production that came from nowhere to become an Oscar-nominated hit that would compete and outperform all the Hollywood summer 2002 movies.
With very little advertising to build an audience in the weeks before its release, My Big Fat Greek Wedding continued to build box-office momentum to become one of the most successful independent films ever released.
Born Antonia Eugenia Vardalos in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada on September 24, 1962, to Doreen Christakis and Constantine “Gus” Vardalos, Nia Vardalos’ good-natured and eccentric family encouraged the talented youngster’s creativity. Nia Vardalos’ love of performing led her to begin her professional career at the Rainbow Stage, a theater company that eventually provided her with the means to get a scholarship to Toronto’s Ryerson University in 1986.
Two years later Vardalos would join Toronto’s Second City theater troupe and moved to Chicago’s Second City stage shortly thereafter. Vardalos was introduced to her future husband Ian Gomez while performing in Chicago. They got married in September 1993 and moved to Los Angeles shortly thereafter.
Vardalos and Gomez began appearing on numerous TV shows such as The Drew Carey Show, and during this time Vardalos, inspired by her eccentric family and her colorful childhood, began to write a stage play entitled My Big Fat Greek Wedding. The play was put together based on friends’ recollection of humorous stories about her family, and centered around her account of her and Gomez’s memorable wedding.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding soon became a stage hit in Los Angeles and drew the attention of actress Rita Wilson who recommended the play to husband Tom Hanks. The couple agreed that a film version would captivate audiences and agreed to produce it. Vardalos faced much adversity by movie executives who wanted to cast a major star for the leading role and tinker with her script, however, she stuck to her guns and brought her vision to the screen fully intact for only five million dollars.
Vardalos likewise starred in and co-wrote My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2, which was released in 2016. It was much less successful than the original had been, however, it earned over $60 million from an $18 million budget.