Bright, articulate, engaging, and one of People Magazine's '50 Most Beautiful 2004,' Maria is one of the hottest up and coming talents in Hollywood. Menounos has played the roles of actress, journalist, entertainment reporter, filmmaker, singer and humanitarian; she is the industry's total package!
Maria most recently filmed a cameo in the upcoming Ben Stiller comedy, "Tropic of Thunder". Maria has also recently starred in the romantic comedy "Kickin It Old Skool" opposite Jamie Kennedy for the Yari Film Group co-produced with Jamie Kennedy's Jizzy Entertainment and Hi-Def Entertainment.
In 2005, Maria added two exciting roles to her repertoire. She joined both NBC News' "Today" as the new "West Coast" correspondent and NBC Universal's "Access Hollywood" as a "special correspondent." Maria frequently hosts the third hour of the Today Show. While continuing her acting endeavors, she has landed guest roles on the highly acclaimed dramatic CBS series Without a Trace and starred in a recurring role as "Jules" in the WB drama One Tree Hill, acting opposite Chad Michael Murray and recently had a guest role on NBC's Scrubs playing Zach Braff's love interest. Menounos and a recent cameo on HBO's Entourage and also appeared in the 20th Century FOX Sci Fi/Action movie blockbuster Fantastic Four alongside Jessica Alba and Michael Chiklis. As a celebrity journalist, she formerly hosted ET on MTV and ET on VH-1, both of which soared to number-one weekend ratings on their respective networks. Her charisma and energy proved a successful combination as she also appeared nightly as co-host and journalist for Entertainment Tonight and again on weekends for ET Weekend. Menounos is currently the 2007 spokesperson for PANTENE hair care products. She was awarded the "Cyber Vixen of the Year Award" at the 2005 Video Game Awards for her role in "James Bond 007: From Russia With Love." Maria co-hosted the annual Eurovision Music Competition Awards in May 2006 which took place in Athens, Greece and was viewed all throughout Europe.
As a filmmaker, Menounos directed and produced two dark comedy films. The first film, Longtime Listener, stars Wilmer Valderamma and the second film, Fwiends.com stars Lara Flynn Boyle. Longtime Listener recently competed in the South by South West Film Festival and the Tribeca Film Festival. The films were shot on 35mm film, anamorphic style. She served as both Producer and Executive Producer of In the Land of Merry Misfits, another 35mm feature length movie that recently screened at the Tribeca Film Festival, Cinevegas Film Festival and Boston Film Festival. As a humanitarian, she is the founder and Executive Director of the charity Take Action Hollywood! Maria and her non-profit organization which worked on a joint venture with Miramax Films promoting Paper Clips, a Holocaust documentary film strongly considered for an Oscar nomination. As a journalist, she has traveled the globe covering tragedies and interviewing world leaders, including President George W. Bush.
A former model, actress and Miss Massachusetts Teen USA, Maria attended Boston's Emerson College, where she double-majored in broadcast journalism and film. In 1996, Maria became the first freshman in Emerson's history to win the prestigious Evvy Award for Best Newscaster. She also hosted a Greek-American radio talk show on Boston's WNRB.
During the summer of her sophomore year, the nineteen-year-old Menounos further exhibited her career range, producing the previously mentioned Merry Misfits with a cast and crew from MTV. When finishing funds fell through and the film was vaulted, it was Maria, four years later, who rescued the project - she, herself, providing the financing for completion.
After completing her junior year at Emerson, Menounos was hired as an International correspondent/anchor for Channel One News, a news magazine show that boasts a daily audience of eight-million teenagers. At Channel One, Maria interviewed the President and covered many serious topics, most notably the AIDS virus in South Africa.
It was her journey to South Africa and her exposure to the suffering of its citizens that inspired Maria to found Take Action Hollywood! The charity's mission aims to utilize the power of the entertainment industry and the medium of production to educate, empower and raise social awareness. With the motto "social change through the silver screen," the group targets central social issues by producing and promoting quality feature films and commercials. To encourage greater understanding of such subjects, the productions will generally feature the talents of big name stars and directors, much like the Holocaust-based success, "Schlinder's List."
Maria and TAH! have already produced a commercial for AIDS awareness and have similarly promoted pet adoption through featured articles in various publications, as well as through segments airing on Entertainment Tonight. Maria and TAH! are currently developing a quirky commercial campaign to curb pet overpopulation as well as a narrative feature film tentatively titled Aids for Dummies concerning the current state of the AIDS virus. Maria will serve as Executive Producer on both projects.
She continues to volunteer at various dog shelters in the Los Angeles area, where she resides with her four adopted dogs.