Melanie Kannokada, sometimes credited as Melanie Chandra, was born on February 28, 1984, in Park Ridge, IL. Before pursuing a career in acting, Kannokada's interests took her through many creative and intellectual pursuits. As a child, she practiced Shotokan Katate, earning a second-degree black belt, and sparred on behalf of the United States in the Pan American Games between 2000 and 2002. During her tenure at Stanford University, Kannokada won the 2007 Miss India America contest. She graduated from the university with a degree in mechanical engineering, and took a job at the New York City-based business management consulting firm McKinsey & Company. Kannokada began acting in her early 20s, earning small roles on shows like "How to Make It in America" (HBO 2010-11) and in films like "Sex in the City 2" (2010). Around the same time, Kannokada represented products like Verizon, Glamour magazine, and Herbal Essentials in advertising campaigns. A relocation to Los Angeles proved fortuitous for Kannokada, yielding appearances on television series such as "Rules of Engagement" (CBS 2007-2013), "Parenthood" (NBC 2010-15), and "NCIS: Los Angeles" (CBS 2009-). Her nabbed her first two major small screen roles at once. She played medical resident Malaya Pineda on the hospital drama series "Code Black" (CBS 2015-), and the supporting character Fareeda Massoud, a younger sister to costar Aasif Mandvi's character, on the political satire series "The Brink" (HBO 2015-).