Even those who fail to recognize her name would instantly know the lithe, slightly diminutive, and ethereally beautiful Ukranian-American actress Vera Farmiga by her distinctive look.
Born August 6, 1973, in Passaic County, NJ, to Ukranian immigrant parents Michael and Luba Farmiga, Vera grew up with six brothers and sisters, in an isolated Ukranian enclave -- so isolated that the young girl purportedly did not learn spoken English until the age of six. As a teenager, she attended a Ukranian Catholic secondary school, and spent much of her free time touring with a Ukranian folk dancing troupe. Though she originally planned to build a career as an optometrist, Farmiga instead ventured off in the opposite direction by enrolling as an undergraduate at Syracuse University's School of Visual and Performing Arts. She began to tour as a theatrical performer shortly after graduation, in the American Conservatory Theater's 1996 production of Shakespeare's Tempest, then took her Broadway bow later that same year, as an understudy in David Jones' mounting of Ronald Harwood's Taking Sides.