Merrin Dungey

Active - 1998 - 2020  |   Born - Aug 6, 1971 in Sacramento, California, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Comedy Drama, Action

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Biography by Jason Buchanan

A popular television actress who has also found success on the silver screen, Merrin Dungey has been entertaining audiences since strapping on her ballet shoes at the age of four. Always quick on her feet, the talented dancer moved from ballet to ice skating before discovering her talent as an actress while hosting a local teen talk show at 18. Commercial work was quick to follow, and shortly thereafter, Dungey enrolled as a theater major at U.C.L.A. During her sophomore year at college, Dungey became the youngest person ever to win the U.C.L.A. School of Theater's top acting prize at the Annual Acting Awards Ceremony. Following her graduation, the up-and-coming actress developed a one-woman show entitled Black Like Who? for the HBO Comedy Workspace. It didn't take long for Dungey's reputation as a talent to watch spread through Hollywood, and on the heels of Black Like Who?, she signed with the William Morris Agency. Television roles were quick to follow, and after guest appearances on Martin and Living Single, Dungey landed a recurring role on the television series Party Girl (an adaptation of the 1995 Parker Posey indie). After making her film debut with a small role in the 1998 disaster flick Deep Impact, Dungey returned to the small screen in supporting capacity with The King of Queens in 1998. With roles in EDtv (1999) and The Sky Is Falling (2000), Dungey seemed to be balancing films and television nicely, and following a memorable turn on Malcolm in the Middle, she was cast on the small-screen spy drama-thriller series Alias in 2001. In addition to continuing roles on television on such popular shows as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Dungey still appearred in such features as Scream at the Sound of the Beep (2002). In 2004, Dungey took on a role in the made-for-television drama Summerland. In 2007 she was cast in the Grey's Anatomy spinoff Private Practice as Dr. Naomi Bennett.

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  • Began studying ballet at the age of 4, then moved on to ice skating, before finally settling on acting.
  • Was the youngest person ever to win the UCLA School of Theater's top acting prize, which Dungey received for her role in the play Anatol.
  • After graduating from UCLA, developed a one-woman show for HBO Comedy Workspace titled Black Like Who?, an autobiographical look at her upbringing.
  • Made her TV debut in a 1995 episode of Fox sitcom Martin; Dungey has since had recurring roles on a number of popular series, including Malcolm in the Middle, AliasThe King of Queens, Better Off Ted and Revenge.
  • In 2007, landed a role on ABC's Grey's Anatomy spinoff, Private Practice, only to be replaced by Audra McDonald when the pilot was picked up for series.
  • Sings in a rock band called Bad Francie, named after her Alias character, Francie Calfo.