Hannah Simone

Hannah Simone Headshot

Actress • Host • Model

Birth Date: August 3, 1980

Age: 43 years old

Birth Place: London, England, UK

Hannah Simone established a show business imprint in the 2000s as a Canadian television presenter before scoring a breakthrough role as the designated bestie on the hit situation comedy "New Girl" (Fox, 2011- ). A multi-ethnic beauty whose globe-hopping childhood exposed her to the starker realities of the developing world, she trod an early career path in international public policy, but in the early 2000s, veered into a media career. She did a brief turn as a host with HGTV Canada before scoring a job as a VJ for the Canadian music video channel MuchMusic in 2006. She began dabbling in acting roles, but again found hosting duties in 2009 for Syfy's video game competition program "WCG Ultimate Gamer." In 2011, she made a splash on American television on the Zooey Deschanel sitcom "New Girl," her stoic straight-delivered snark quickly seeing her singled out as a scene-stealer as the show became a hit in Fox's Tuesday night line-up. Exotically stunning and wielding a worldly savvy, Simone, within a single season on primetime network TV, established herself on media wags' lists as one of the hot young talents to watch.

Simone was born on Aug. 3, 1980, in London, U.K., into a family she described as "nomadic." Her mother was of mixed German, Italian and Greek derivation, while her father was a native of India. A year after her birth, the family moved to Calgary, Alberta, Canada, where Simone spent her early childhood. When she was seven, they transplanted to Saudi Arabia. It was there, while attending an international school, that she discovered a penchant for performing in student productions. Her distinctive beauty won her modeling work as early as age 13 while the family was living in Nicosia, capital of her mother's native island, Cyprus. In that country, divided between Greek and Turkish halves, Hannah came face to face with how war could divide a society. The family next moved to New Delhi, India, where she attended the American Embassy School. Discovering appalling conditions for local HIV/AIDS patients, she tapped the multivariate talents of her artistic friends and put on a concert to raise money to build a dedicated shelter for victims of the virus. The family returned to Canada for her senior year, settling in White Rock, British Columbia, near Vancouver. Simone graduated from Semiahmoo Secondary School in nearby Surrey.

She studied at the University of British Columbia, earning a BA in international relations and political science, and worked as a researcher on a book by UBC professor Lloyd Axworthy, the former Canadian minister of foreign affairs. Her concentration landed her work with the U.N. Association in London, serving as a junior officer for human rights and refugees and assisting in Model U.N. programs. Interested in reactivating her performance inclinations, she returned to Canada, where, in 2004, she matriculated at Ryerson University in Toronto to study communications, with the intention of translating her passions into documentaries. She graduated in 2005 with a BA in radio and television arts and soon won a host job with HGTV's "Space for Living." She scored her first gig in narrative television with a guest shot on UPN's short-lived Taye Diggs vehicle "Kevin Hill" (2004-05). In 2006, Simone won a job with Canada's music video channel, MuchMusic, serving as an anchor-host for its "Much News Weekly" and hosting the show "The NewMusic" (1979-2008), for which she introduced new videos and interviewed musicians. She also lent her face and voice to a Canadian non-governmental organization, Apathy Is Boring, encouraging youth to register to vote.

In 2008, she decided to bolt Canada to seek her fortunes in Hollywood. She won some bit TV one-off work before picking up hosting duties on Syfy's "WCG Ultimate Gamer" (2009-2010), a reality game-show that pitted 12 video game jocks against each other in both real-life competitions and correlative console games. In 2011, she landed a regular and star-making gig by joining the cast of "New Girl," a young-savvy-wacky-roommates affair centered around a clueless teacher (Zooey Deschanel) who moves into an apartment with three guys. Simone played Cece, Deschanel's protective best friend, a rapier-witted model who keeps the boys in line and, with trademark snarky deadpan, acts as the voice of reason when dealing with various shenanigans. The show became Fox's best-rated new show in a decade. Simone was quickly singled out as both a star-in-the-making and cheesecake-du-jour, featured in photo segments for men's magazines Maxim and Esquire, even as she continued to lend her name to more publicly-minded projects, notably becoming the celebrity ambassador for the Pink Daisy Project, a fundraising organization for breast cancer research.

By Matthew Grimm

Credits

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