Samaire Armstrong's unique first name is Gaelic for "dawning sun," but despite choosing their daughter's name for its beautiful meaning, Armstrong's parents didn't actually know how to pronounce the name for the first three months of her life. They pronounced it "Sam-Air" until they happened to meet a Gaelic man, who explained that it was in fact pronounced "Sam-eer-ah." The girl with the curious name was born in Japan, and her family lived there, and then in Hawaii, before finally settling in Arizona, where young Armstrong did most of her growing up. She excelled in the theater arts in high school, and she briefly attended the University of Arizona before leaving, frustrated by the fact that freshmen weren't allowed to participate in theatrical productions.
Armstrong decided to get started with her career and by 2000, at age 20, she'd done so, appearing in two episodes of the cult favorite Freaks and Geeks. Roles followed in films like Not Another Teen Movie before she scored a career-making gig with a recurring role on the hit show The O.C. While she wasn't made a member of the regular cast, Armstrong became a fan favorite, playing the crucial third member of a love triangle between her character, Anna, her good friend Seth, and Seth's long-time crush, Summer. The O.C. eventually came to an end in 2006, but by 2004, Armstrong had a second series in which she regularly appeared, showing up on the hit HBO program Entourage as agent Ari's assistant, Emily, whom Eric dates briefly. The actress also began stretching her acting muscles on the big screen with roles in Just My Luck, It's a Boy Girl Thing, The Staircase Murders, and Rise: Blood Hunter.
Armstrong would faind continued success over the coming years, appearing most notably on shows like Dirty Sexy Money and The Mentalist.