With her wavy brunette hair, piercing green eyes and expressive personality, Melina Kanakaredes has been winning fans since her 1991 breakout role as Greek immigrant Eleni Andros on CBS' daytime serial "Guiding Light". The Ohio-born former beauty contestant spent nearly five years playing the character who moved from wide-eyed innocent to more mature wife and mother, earning a Daytime Emmy nod along the way. Her talent and abilities transcended the genre and like others who began their days in daytime (e.g., Meg Ryan, Marisa Tomei), it seemed only a matter of time before she would make the leap to primetime and features. Kanakaredes made her feature debut in Gregory Hines' uneven portrait of an interracial romance "Bleeding Hearts" (1994) and went on to small roles in "The Long Kiss Goodnight" (1996), "Dangerous Beauty" and "Rounders" (both 1998) and "15 Minutes" (2001).
But that one role which would propel her to the ranks of A-list screen actresses remained elusive. Instead, Kanakaredes has made strong impressions in a number of small screen parts. She first caught the attention of primetime viewers in the recurring role of the journalist girlfriend of Jimmy Smits' Bobby Simone on "NYPD Blue" (1995) and as a mysterious woman from the past of Royal Canadian Mountie Benton Fraser on the two-part finale of CBS' "Due South". The actress had her first regular role in primetime as tabloid reporter Angela Villanova on the short-lived "New York News" (CBS. 1995). In 1999, Kanakaredes finally achieved small screen stardom as Dr. Sydney Hansen, a California-based plastic surgeon who returns to her New England home in the soapy but highly watchable "Providence" (NBC, 1999-2002). While critics carped over the show's maudlin plotlines and dream sequences (in which Sydney communicates with her dead mother) and pronounced the show "awful", "Providence" proved a winner, debuting as the highest-rated new drama since "ER" and catapulting its lead to stardom.
After the series folded, the actress took to the stage as Sally Bowles in a revival of the Broadway play "Cabaret" and shot the indie film "Into the Fire" (2004) before making her return to primtime network TV with a smart choice, joining the thrid instalment of the popular forensic-oriented police drama franchise "CSI: New York" (CBS, 2004 - ) as Det. Stella Bonasera.