Tonight, Nia Vardalos and her family will be taking on Wanda Sykes and her family in a new installment of Celebrity Family Feud.
For years, Vardalos, who rose to fame as the star of My Big Fat Greek Wedding, was married to actor Ian Gomez. She recently filed for divorce.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. She Filed For Divorce From Gomez In July
In July, Vardalos filed for divorce from Gomez. The actress cited irreconcilable difference in court documents, according to People.
In a joint statement obtained by the outlet, Vardalos and Gomez said, “We’ve been respectfully separated for a lengthy period of time. Our relationship became a friendship so the decision to end the marriage is completely mutual and amicable. It is our hope that decency will prevail on the reporting of this story which will soon be yesterday’s news. Thank you for respecting our privacy.”
Both have asked for joint legal and physical custody of their child.
In a statement from Gomez, which People obtained, the actor said, “We’ve been respectfully separated for a lengthy period of time. Our relationship became a friendship so the decision to end the marriage is completely mutual and amicable… It is our hope that decency will prevail on the reporting of this story which will soon be yesterday’s news. Thank you for respecting our privacy.”
Their date of separation was listed as June 29, 2017.
2. He Starred with Vardalos in ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was inspired by Vardalos’ relationship with Gomez.
The character of Ian Miller was inspired by Gomez– like the character in the movie, according to Mental Floss, Gomez wasn’t Greek himself. He was baptized in the Greek Orthodox Church.
And what role did he play in the film? Gomez played the role of Miller’s best man, Mike, in the movie.
3. They Adopted a Daughter in 2009
Together, Vardalos and Gomez have an adopted daughter, Ilaria.
In a handful of interviews, and most notably, in her book, Instant Mom, Vardalos opens up about her journey to becoming a mother. She shares that she underwent 13 in vitro fertilization treatments and a number of failed adoptions before being matched through the foster care system with Ilaria, who was 3 at the time.
According to Today.com, Vardalos and Gomez were given 14 hours notice before meeting their daughter.
Vardalos hopes her book will inspire others to adopt. Speaking to Savannah Guthrie, she shared, “I always think, and a lot of reviewers and studio heads think, why did the success of ‘My Big Fat Greek Wedding’ happen to me? Why? So now I think know. I think I’m supposed to be using my big mouth to talk about adoption.”
4. He Is an Actor & Played Andy on ‘Cougar Town’
Gomez, an actor, played Javier on Felicity and Andy on Cougar Town.
His other notable roles include Larry Almada in The Drew Carey Show from 1994 to 2005. He has acted in a number of shows, like Supergirl, Fresh Off the Boat, The Real O’Neals, The Middle, Grey’s Anatomy, Royal Pains, and True Jackson, VP, among others.
In an interview for Backstage Magazine, Gomez was asked how he got into acting. He explained, “As a child, one of my defense mechanisms was to try to be funny. My mom tried to nurture that by putting me in acting class. But I got bored when we stopped pretending to be trees and actually had to work. When I got out of high school, I was working in restaurants in New York City, when I heard Bill Anderson from The Neighborhood Playhouse was doing private lessons. I started taking classes and it was a lot of improv and Meisner and repetition. ‘Red shirt, red shirt, fuck you, fuck you!’ We were always saying “fuck you” for some reason…”
5. They Met at The Second City
Gomez and Vardalos met at The Second City, an improv comedy troupe based in Chicago.
Gomez initially moved to Los Angeles because Vardalos was looking to make her way there. He tells Backstage, “… I was afraid of having to start all over again, which happened. But we got lucky. Nia started doing a lot of voiceovers. Then, while I was doing a Second City alumni thing, someone said, ‘Go talk to my agents.’ They hip-pocketed me and I got an audition for the pilot of ‘The Drew Carey Show.’ I booked a guest star spot, and then the show got picked up and they had me come back for more and more episodes and it just snowballed.”
Gomez was with Second City for seven years. His expertise in improv comedy led to him appearing on the show Whose Line Is It Anyway.