Marina Sirtis (pronounced "SEAR-tiss") truly has a multi-national background. She was born in East London to Greek parents and now lives in America as a naturalized citizen. She began her formal drama training at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London against the wishes of her parents, John and Despina Sirtis. They felt that acting was not a "real job" and that she would not be able to make a decent living from it. Despite their reservations, Marina pursued her dream. After graduation, she worked in musical theatre and repertory theatre and the occasional television job. The role she was most proud of was "Magenta" in a stage production of "The Rocky Horror Picture Show".
With a respectable number of roles under her belt, she moved to Los Angeles, California, and tried her luck there. She made her American theatre debut in Hartford Stage's production of "Loot" and then starred in the world premiere of Neil Simon's "Hotel Suite" at the Walnut Street Theatre in Philadelphia. She had received numerous accolades for her performances in both. She had also managed to land minor roles in a few movies such as "Death Wish 3" and television shows like "Hunter", but it wasn't enough to pay the bills. It was right about the time that she was ready to move back to London that she had heard about a casting call for a new Star Trek show called "Star Trek: The Next Generation". She decided to give it a try. In her mind, if the audition didn't go well, she would head back to England as she originally planned.
When she sat down with the casting directors, she read for the role of Security Chief Lieutenant Natasha Yar. Ironically, Denise Crosby had just finished reading for the role of Counsellor Deanna Troi. Her initial impression of her performance was so low that she was certain she would not get the job and she was prepared to head home to England. In a way, she was right. Her read for the part of Tasha Yar wasn't what the producers were looking for, but they felt that she was perfect for the role of the half human/half Betazoid Deanna Troi. Denise Crosby ended up being cast as the Enterprise's security chief.
Shooting for the new show began in 1987. Although she was thrilled to be a main cast member of a major syndicated show, she realized quickly what a change it was from the jobs she had done in the past. Obviously the schedule was something she was not used to. On shooting days, she would have to be in the makeup chair by 5:30am and her day would wrap at around 10pm. Reading days (during which the cast would do dry runs through the script) weren't as brutal, but they were long nonetheless. An average reading day could last 9 to 10 hours as the script was fine-tuned. The other thing that caused her considerable discomfort was the hairstyle that they forced her to wear in the first season. She remarked that the bun that the hairdressers would tie her hair into pulled back the skin of her face so that she felt like she was getting a facelift every single day. She was quite grateful that by the second season, she was allowed to let her hair down (so to speak).
When "Star Trek: The Next Generation" ended in 1994, Marina continued playing the role that made her famous in the four feature films that followed. She had lent her voice talent to the Disney animated television show "Gargoyles" as the treacherous Demona alongside other Next Generation cast members Jonathan Frakes, Brent Spiner and Michael Dorn as well doing the voice for Matriarch Benezia for the video game "Mass Effect". She continues to make appearances in episode television such as "Diagnosis Murder" and "Stargate SG-1" and will occasionally make appearances at Star Trek conventions throughout North America.
Her personal life is fairly normal. On June 21 1992, she married rock guitarist Michael Lamper. Fellow "Next Generation" cast members Brent Spiner and Michael Dorn were groomsmen at the ceremony. She is involved with various animal rights causes and is a vegetarian. Her brother Steve Sirtis played soccer for the Columbia Lions in England during the early 80s which led her to become a huge soccer fan. She still cheers for the Tottenham Hotspur Soccer Club