Teri Polo is an American actress who is best known for playing Pam Byrnes-Focker in the Meet the Parents film series. As a young child, the blonde was an avid dancerーstarting from age five, she studied ballet for twelve years. It wasn’t until she won a local modelling competition in her teens that she began drifting away from her initial dreams of becoming a ballerina. Signing with a company, Polo eventually tried her hand at modelling in front of the cameras. However, she soon found herself skewing towards an acting. Wanting to give herself that chance, she later relocated to New York City at the age of seventeen to pursue a career in the show business. At the age nineteen, Polo broke into television with the CBS drama series, TV 101 (1988), in which she was cast as a supporting character. Following its end, she appeared in two TV films, The Phantom of the Opera (1990), and People Like Us (1990). In 1991, she made her big screen debut in the action movie, Born to Ride.
After several small roles, the blonde beauty became a regular cast member in the last season of the Emmy Award-winning drama series, Northern Exposure (1994). For her performance in the show, she was nominated for a Screen Actors Guild Awardーit marked the first time that she was recognized by the industry. Over the next few years, she appeared in a series of made-for-television films including Full Circle (1996), A Prayer in the Dark (1997), A Father for Brittany (1998) and The Marriage Fool (1998). In 2000, Polo finally received her much-awaited breakthrough when she landed a main role in the dark comedy film, Meet the Parents. A huge box office success, it earned the actress much global recognition; she would later reprise her role as Pam Byrnes in the eventual spinoffs, Meet the Fockers (2004), and Little Fockers (2010).
Starting from the mid to late 2000’s, Polo began guest starring in a number of popular TV series such as Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (2008), CSI: Miami (2008), Ghost Whisperer (2009), Drop Dead Diva (2009), and Law & Order: LA (2010). In 2010, she also played a female lead in the ABC sitcom, Man Up!ーhowever it was ultimately cancelled after a season. Aside from having appeared in many talk shows (e.g. Jimmy Kimmel Live!, The Sharon Osbourne Show, Live! with Kelly, The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson), the blonde has also taken part in a handful of reality shows throughout the years including Celebrity Ghost Stories (2009), Heel’s Kitchen (2014), Celebrity Name Game (2014), and The $100,000 Pyramid (2016).
So what has the actress who is famous for the Meet the Parents trilogy been up to since then? What new roles have she taken on in the recent years? What happened to Teri Polo? Where is she now in 2018?
Teri Polo’s Early Life and Acting Beginnings
Born on June 1, 1969 in Dover, Delaware, Teri Polo (Birth Name: Theresa Elizabeth Polo) is the daughter of Vincent Polo and Jane Gentry, a creator of stereo systems and a home maker; she has two brothers named Steve and Mike is of Italian, English, and German descent. Growing up, Polo was an avid dancer; she first took up ballet when she was four years old. By the time she was thirteen, she was attending the prestigious School of American Ballet in New York. When she wasn’t dancing, she was a straight A’s student at school; she went to Holy Cross Elementary School and Dover High School.
When she was sixteen, Polo won a local modelling competition which eventually led her to appear in an advertisement in Seventeen Magazine. She then signed with a modelling agency, and took up so work in front of the cameras. As she continued to pose and model, she soon started to develop an interest in acting. Wanting to try her hand at becoming an actress, the blonde dropped out of high school and moved to New York City at the age of seventeen. After settling down, she began to attend a number of TV auditions. As fate would have it, just two years later, she landed a supporting role in the CBS drama series, TV 101 (1988). While it served as her official debut, she had actually appeared in a television show called Loving back in the early 1980’s as a young teen.
Teri Polo’s Early Acting Career
Created by Karl Schaefer, TV 101 revolved around a former photojournalist who takes up a job at a high school to teach journalismーinstead of teaching his students how to produce a traditional school newspaper however, he instructs them to create a TV news program. While Sam Robards was cast as the main lead, the drama saw Polo as a supporting character by the name of Amanda Hampton. Joining her and Robards in the series were Brynn Thayer, Leon Russom, Andrew Cassese, Stacey Dash and Matt LeBlanc.
Originally released on November 29, 1988, TV 101 was met with generally mixed reviews. While some described it to be a rare gem, other viewers were not as enthusiastic about its storyline. During its time on TV, it aired opposite of ABC’s top hits Matlock (1988), and Roseanne (1988)ーwhich may have explained its disappointing ratings. Due to low viewership, TV 101 was ultimately cancelled on March 25, 1989; by then, only thirteen out of its seventeen produced episodes had been broadcast. Although it didn’t offer Polo a huge breakthrough per se, it did give her an opportunity to hone her skills for her subsequent projects.
A handful of small films and guest roles later, she was cast as a series regular in the CBS comedy drama, Northern Exposure. Created by John Falsey and Joshua Brand, it originally centred around a new MD graduate who is required to set up a practice in Alaska. Joining the show during its sixth and final season, Polo played the part of Michelle Schowdowski Capra, one of two characters who were introduced during the ninth episode of the sixth season following the departure of actor, Rob Morrowーshe was also the wife of Phil Capra, a new doctor that moves into town from Los Angeles.
Hugely popular upon hitting the television, Northern Exposure‘s initial season achieved a 12.4 rating; at its highest point during season three, it managed to garner over 26 million viewers. The holder of an 8.3/10 rating on IMDb, the show received numerous positive reviews for its quality production and characterization. Over the course of its run, the series was recognized with dozens of awards including more than fifty Primetime Emmy Award nominations and several Golden Globe nominations. For her portrayal of Michelle, Polo was also nominated for a Screen Actors Award, which she shared with the rest of her ensemble cast.
Teri Polo in the Meet the Parents Film Trilogy
After the arrival of the new millennium, the actress collided with a huge opportunity when she was cast as the female lead in the dark comedy, Meet the Parents (2000). Her first major role on the big screen, it starred her as Pam Byrne, a school teacher who is also the love interest of the male protagonist, Gaylord Focker (played by Ben Stiller).
A modern remake of an earlier movie of the same name, it followed Gaylord as he travels to meet his girlfriend’s parents prior to proposing; to his dismay however, her father is a little less than trusting. Aside from Polo and Stiller, it also starred Blythe Danner, Robert De Niro, James Rebhorn and Jon Abrahams.
Originally released in theatres on October 6, 2000, Meet the Parents was a huge commercial hitーin its opening weekend, it grossed over $28 million, making it the highest-earning motion picture that month; it also ranked number one at the box office. Critically acclaimed, it earned mostly favourable reviews from both viewers and critics alike; it currently holds a 7.0/10 rating on IMdb. Nominated for a Golden Globe Award at the 58th annual ceremony, Meet the Parents garnered Polo a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for “Favourite Female Newcomer” in 2001.
Four years after the release of the original film, the actress reprised her role as Pam Byrnes in the sequel, Meet the Fockers (2004). Directed by Jay Roach, it followed the Brynes family as they meet the Fockers family for the first time at their home. Boasting an all-star cast list, the film starred Dustin Hoffman, Barbra Streisand, Blythe Danner, Ben Stiller and Robert De Niro in lead roles. Released theatrically on December 22, 2004, Meet the Fockers earned over $46 million during its opening weekend in North Americaーit is also the highest-grossing film that stars Robert De Niro. By the end of its run, it had earned more than $516 million from a production budget of $80 million. Despite being a financial success however, opinion on the comedy was divided; on Rotten Tomatoes, approximately 38% of critics gave the film a favourable review. Nonetheless, it garnered several awards including an MTV Movie Award, and an ASCAP Film and Television Music Award.
In 2010, Polo reprised her role in the third and final instalment of the film series, Little Fockers. Directed by Paul Weitz, it centred around Gaylord Brynes, her on-screen husband who after trying to please his father-in-law, Jack for over ten years, have finally started to gain some trust from him; however Jack’s suspicions soon start to come back after Gaylord starts working at a drug company in order to help prepare the family financially for the arrival of a new baby. Besides Polo, Stiller and De Niro, Little Fockers also starred Owen Wilson, Laura Dem, Harvey Keital and Dustin Hoffman.
Released in theatres on December 22, 2010, Little Fockers was a commercial hit, earning over $48 million in its opening weekendーhaving said that however, it failed to rival the ticket sales of its predecessor, Meet the Fockers (2004). By the end of its theatrical run, the comedy grossed over $310 million against a budget of $100 million. Despite the figure that it took in, the film was critically panned by criticsーits predictability and lack of humour being the target of their less-than-ideal reviews. Still, the movie received a Teen Choice Award for “Choice Comedy Movie” in 2011.
What’s Teri Polo Doing Now in 2018 – Recent Updates
Polo hasn’t been as active on the big screen as she is on television, however it looks like she will be making an appearance in an upcoming crime thriller called, All for Nikki (2017). Directed by Brandon Willer, it will depict the story of an aspiring musician and his girlfriend as they are robbed by two paramedics after a 9-1-1 call. Written by Scot Beidelman, the movie will also be starring Grant Harvey, Gia Mantegna, Andrew Bowen and Michael Milford.
Besides that, the actress has also been busy reprising her role as Stefanie Marie Adams Foster in the ABC family drama, The Fosters (2013)ーone which she’s been portraying since 2013. Created by Bradley Bredeweg and Peter Paige, it chronicles the lives of the Foster family who is led by a lesbian couple, Lena and Stef. As of June 2016, it is currently on its fourth season.
If you’d like to stay connected with the star, you can do so by following Teri Polo on Twitter at @TeriPolo1.