Maria Menounos (Greek:Μαρία Μενούνου) (born June 8, 1978) is an American actress, journalist, and television presenter known in America for her appearances as a correspondent for Today, Access Hollywood, Extra, and abroad for co-hosting the Eurovision Song Contest 2006 in Athens, Greece. Menounos, a Greek American, was born in Medford, Massachusetts to immigrant parents Costas and Litsa Menounos. She has a younger brother, Peter, and is fluent in the Greek language. At age 17, she was an employee of Dunkin' Donuts. Menounos attended the Dormition of the Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church in Somerville, Massachusetts. Menounos attended Medford High School in Medford, MA. In 1995, Menounos began to compete in beauty pageants. The following year, she won the title of Miss Massachusetts Teen USA and competed at Miss Teen USA where she placed in the top 15, receiving an honorary mention, during the preliminary competition; Menounos placed 13th in preliminaries. The pageant was won by Christie Lee Woods. Maria competed for the title of Miss Massachusetts USA 2000; she was the 1st runner up.
Later Menounos attended Boston's Emerson College where she participated in the now award winning organization, Emerson Independent Video. During her senior year, she was hired as a reporter for Channel One News. Her work for Channel One's 10-minute segments included traveling to El Salvador to report on the earthquake of 2001, interviewing North Atlantic Treaty Organization aircrew members aboard an AWACS while flying a combat air patrol mission during the military alliance's Operation Eagle Assist and interviewing then President George W. Bush. Entertainment Tonight hired Menounos as a correspondent in 2002, where she reported on movies, music and fashion. ET executives offered her a hosting gig for ET on MTV & VH1; she left the program in 2005 to focus on her acting career, though she would eventually join rival program Access Hollywood later that Fall as a special correspondent. She went on to co-host a few episodes of the Today show in the late summer and fall of 2006 as well as in April 2007. In 2003, Menounos appeared on the November 30 episode of Punk'd where she was one of many celebrities caught in the awkward and embarrassing "Red Carpet Interviews". In 2004, Menounos briefly appeared in an episode of the UPN series One on One as Glinda, an eccentric, self-proclaimed "Fairy Godmother to the Stars". In the summer of 2005, she appeared in the comic book film Fantastic Four, where she played a nurse who is romanced by the "Human Torch", played by Chris Evans. Her likeness and voice was featured in the 2005 Electronic Arts video game, From Russia with Love as Eva Adara, Red Grant's henchwoman, which stars Sean Connery as James Bond. She is also the spokesperson for Pantene hair products. Menounos presented the 2006 Eurovision Song Contest (along with Greek singer Sakis Rouvas) that took place in Athens.
As an actress, Maria had recurring roles on CBS' Without a Trace and as Jules in the second season of The CW's One Tree Hill (during its run on The WB). Menounos also appeared on the Scrubs episode "My Extra Mile", which aired in May 2006 where she is attracted to John Dorian because she likes his hair. In 2006, Menounos appeared in the music video for "A Public Affair" by Jessica Simpson. On April 27, 2007, Maria starred in Kickin' It Old Skool. In 2007, Menounos continued in her run as international spokesperson doing print and television commercials for Pantene hair products as well as print ads for New York & Company. From December 17 to December 20, 2007, Menounos hosted the reality game show miniseries Clash of the Choirs.
In 2008, she became the host of Hollywood Green on the Planet Green network. "Maria Menounos brings glamour to green living as the hostess of Hollywood Green. Both as the special correspondent for daily entertainment newsmagazine "Access Hollywood," and on Hollywood Green, Maria provides TV viewers with comprehensive coverage of entertainment and news personalities." In 2008, she had a role in the movie Tropic Thunder. In 2008, she became the first journalist to interview the entire Obama family as a whole. She is represented by Jon Rosen at WME (William Morris Endeavor).
In May 2008, she played in the AVP Cuervo Gold Crown Huntington Beach Open, but was eliminated in the qualifying round. On July 13, 2008, Menounos starred in the celebrity softball game at Yankee Stadium in New York. In November 2008, when Richard Belzer fell ill, she filled in as host for the North Shore Animal League's Dogcatemy Celebrity Gala, which takes place at NYC's Capitale. Since 2009, she has hosted reunion specials of MTV's The Real World and the Real World/Road Rules Challenge. Menounos appeared on the 2008 Knight Rider series episode "Fly By Knight", which aired on February 11, 2009 where she played a DEA agent who is in charge of investigating a plane crash. On October 12, Menounos joined Nancy O'Dell guest hosting WWE Raw. She made her professional wrestling debut in a six diva tag team match with Kelly Kelly and Gail Kim against Beth Phoenix, Rosa Mendes, and Alicia Fox. Menounos's team was victorious, with the match highlighted by Menounos slapping the much larger-statured Phoenix.
On August 4, 2011, it was announced that she is joining Warner Bros.'s Extra, where she will co-host the show with Mario Lopez. She'll also have on-air duties at Dr. Drew's Lifechangers, and will develop new projects. On December 11th edition of WWE Tribute To The Troops, Maria had a tag team match with Eve Torres, Kelly Kelly, and Alicia Fox defeated the team of The Bella Twins (Nikki & Brie) and The Divas of Doom (Natalya & Beth Phoenix) This makes her 2-0 in her WWE career.
Menounos appeared in FHM magazine and in People magazine in 2004 as one of the "50 Most Beautiful People." In another poll conducted by askmen.com, Menounos was voted one of the top five girls a guy would most want to marry, along with Angelina Jolie, Charlize Theron and Jessica Alba. She has also beaten Jessica Alba and Charlize Theron for "Cyber Vixen of the Year" on Spike TV's video game awards. On August 8, 2010 she won the Madden NFL Pro-AM MVP award. She also won MadTV's "Smokin' Hot TV Personality" Award for 2010. Say this of Menounos -- she honors her bets. The co-host of "Extra" bet AJ Calloway that the Patriots would win the Super Bowl. Spoiler alert: She lost. So, Maria donned a Giants-themed bikini in New York City's Times Square on Monday. If Calloway lost he apparently would have had to wear a Patriots cheerleader outfit.