Photo of Padma Lakshmi Padma Lakshmi

A model turned actress and TV host whose upper right arm bears the distinctive scar of a car accident she survived in her teens, Padma Lakshmi was born Sept. 1, 1970, in Madras, India. But she spent most of her adolescence in the United States, earning a degree in theater from Clark University in Worcester, Mass.

Lakshmi launched a modeling career during a stint as an exchange student in Spain, where a scout spotted her in a café. She later landed featured roles in television and film, starring opposite Mariah Carey in Glitter (2001) and playing the Egyptian princess who discovers the infant Moses in the ABC miniseries "The Ten Commandments" (2006).

Best known as the Emmy-nominated host of the cutthroat culinary competition "Top Chef," Lakshmi has also written several cookbooks. She was briefly wed to author Salman Rushdie, who used her as the model for a character in his novel Fury.

Padma Lakshmi in The Mistress of Spices

The Mistress of Spices

2005 PG-13

After leaving India and moving to the United States, Tilo sets up shop in San Francisco as the proprietor of an exotic spice store and helps her customers -- including a handsome American -- change their lives with just the right amount of seasoning.

  • Padma Lakshmi in Top Chef Top Chef
  • Padma Lakshmi in Glitter Glitter
  • Padma Lakshmi in The Ten Commandments The Ten Commandments
  • Padma Lakshmi in Pirates: Blood Brothers Pirates: Blood Brothers
  • Padma Lakshmi in Sharpe's Challenge Sharpe's Challenge