Full Name: Mena (MEE-nah) Alexandra Suvari (Sue-VAR-ee)
Birth Place: Newport, Rhode Island, USA
Date of Birth: February 13, 1979
Height: 5″4 (1.63 m)
Breakthrough: Her role as Angela in ‘American Beauty’ (1999)
1979 – 1990
The youngest child of an Estonian retired psychiatrist (Ando Suvari, born in 1923) and Greek nurse (Candice Suvari, born in 1947), Mena Alexandra Suvari was born on February 13, 1979, in Newport, Rhode Island. Mena’s first name comes from her British Aunt named after the Mena Hotel (at the base of the pyramids in Egypt). She has three older brothers: AJ (ex Intelligence analyst in the U.S. Army, now a real estate agent), Sulev (also enlisted in the U.S. Army) and Yuri (attends school in Florida). Mena lived with her family in an old Rhode Island mansion (built in 1870) until she reached 9 years old. Mena then followed her family when they moved to the US Virgin Islands then later they settled in Charleston, South Carolina where she attended middle school at the Ashley Hall All-girls School.
Commencing her show biz career as a model at age 12, Mena Suvari joined with Wilhelmina Modeling Agency for five years and modeled for Oscar de la Renta printed ads. Considering her potential career as a model, her parents took her to California where she landed on television appearing on a Rice-A-Roni TV commercial.
More TV work knocked and she was seen as a guest on ABC’s Boy Meets World and UPN’s Minor Adjustments (1996-1997). She also played the reoccurring role of brash Sergeant Jim Marsh’s daughter on ABC’s High Incident and was spotted on two medical drama series: NBC’s ER and CBS’ Chicago Hope (1997).
During these busy years she graduated from Providence High School (class of ‘97) in Burbank. While there she received the nickname Bean.
Gregg Araki’s teen drama Nowhere (1997, starring James Duval) was Suvari’s debut movie work. She followed it up with Philippe Mora’s creative approach on the rise of Hitler in Snide and Prejudice (alongside Angus MacFadyen and Rene Auberjonois) and Gary Fleder’s adaptation of James Patterson’s thriller novel, Kiss the Girls (with Morgan Freeman and Ashley Judd).
In the next years, Suvari appeared with Natasha Lyonne in Tamara Jenkins’ drama comedy The Slums of Beverly Hills (1998) and portrayed Emily Bergl’s misfit in Katt Shea’s teen horror The Rage: Carrie 2 (1999). She also returned to television, playing Rob Lowe’s disobedient daughter in the NBC’s miniseries Atomic Train (also in 1999).
Mena then won the role of Heather, a virginal choirgirl in the Weitz brothers’ coming-of-age comedy American Pie (1999, alongside Jason Biggs and Chris Klein), a role that she reprised in its 2001 sequel. Moreover, she broke into the Hollywood movie “noticed” scene with her portrayal of Kevin Spacey’s fantasy object, seductive cheerleader Angela, in Sam Mendes’ drama comedy American Beauty (also in 1999). The film was highly praised at the Academy Awards and Suvari’s role received applause, nabbing her a Young Hollywood and Screen Actors Guild award. Soon, she found herself on the cover of such magazines as Cosmopolitan and Vanity Fair.
After her victory in American Beauty, Suvari netted more distinguished roles. She became Robert Loggia’s virginal daughter Katrina in Jean-Pierre Marois’ comedy American Virgin (2000) and Greg Kinnear’s poor girlfriend Dora in Amy Heckerling’s college comedy Loser (2000, opposite Jason Biggs). On March 4, 2000, Mena Suvari happily wed cinematographer (who she meet on the set of Sugar & Spice) Robert Brinkmann (born on November 20, 1961).
She also costarred with Marley Shelton in Francine McDougall’s crime comedy Sugar & Spice and with Justin Chambers and Catherine Deneuve in Peter Hyams’ classic adventure tale, based on Alexandre Dumas Père’s novels, The Musketeer (both in 2001). On the small screen, she hosted the Saturday Night Live show in January of 2001.
Nicolas Cage’s prositution drama Sonny (starring James Franco) and Jonas Akerlund’s crime comedy Spun (with Jason Schwartzman and Mickey Rourke) were Suvari’s film works in 2002.
She added to her acting resume such recent films as Matthew Cole Weiss’ Standing Still (as Lana, with Jon Abrahams and Ethan Embry), Marc Evans’ thriller Trauma (as Charlotte, Colin Firth’s love obsession) and Bille Woodruff’s comedy Beauty Shop (played one of Queen Latifah’s clients), Domino (as Kimmie, a prouduction assistant on the TV show for the film), Edmond (simply playing ‘Whore’ along side William H Macy) and Rob Reiner’s drama comedy Rumor Has It (as Annie, Jennifer Aniston’s annoying little sister). She also played the reoccurring role of Claire Fisher’s fellow art student, Edie, in the HBO hit series Six Feet Under (2004).
Sadly, Mena and husband Robert separated on April 24, 2005. Citing irreconcilable differences, the couple then filed for divorce on May 10, 2005.
In 2006 Mena was busy filming and promoting a range of films like Caffeine (with Mike Vogel and Breckin Meyer), Brooklyn Rules (with Freddie Prinze Jr.), The Dog Problem (again with Brekin Meyer), Day Of The Dead (with Nick Cannon), Stuck (with Stephen Rea) and Factory Girl (with Guy Pearce and Sienna Miller).
2007 was a big year for Mena. She spent the first few months promoting ‘Factory Girl’ with various TV chat show appearances and events. In June she headed to Spain to film the film adaptation of Earnest Hemingway’s ‘The Garden Of Eden’ where she would play one of the lead characters ‘Catherine’. The media went up in arms when she came back to the US with her head shaved – which she had done for the role. Mena said “I was really excited to get to shave my head – it’s something I’d wanted to do for a while and now I had a good excuse. It was nice to shed that level of vanity for a girl”. She then spent the rest of the year promoting Stuck at various film festivals and rockin her new look at fashion events.
2008 started with Mena showing her photography talents by providing her photos to ECHO designs, they then printed them onto beautiful silk scarf. She also was appointed US good will ambassador for AMREF (African Medical and Research Foundation) where her and her brother, Yuri traveled to Africa to see the work that AMREF had been doing and help spread the word about the foundation.
In July 2008, Mena and her boyfriend music promoter, Simone Sestito announced their engagement. While on vacation in Jamaica, Simone popped the question which is happily said yes too! Up for the rest of the year will be the release of the TV movie ‘Sex & Lies in Sin City’ on Lifetime TV and the release of ‘The Garden Of Eden’ and ‘The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh’.
Mena’s career proves her to be one of Hollywood’s busiest actors as she appears in both studio and independent films all over the world.
Mena is a natural blonde with blue eyes. Mena also plays on the World Poker Tour in the Hollywood Home games for the Starlight Children’s Foundation charity. While not busy filming, she enjoys making jewelry, photography, and outdoor sports like mountain biking and hiking.
Mena is currently with the Gersh Agency and represented by Chuck James.
Last updated March 19th 2011