Mira Katherine Sorvino was born on September 28, 1967 in Manhattan. She is the daughter of Lorraine Davis, an actress turned drama therapist, and veteran character actor Paul Sorvino. Her father's family were Italian immigrants. The young Sorvino was intelligent, an avid reader and an exceptional scholar. Her father discouraged her from becoming an actor, as he knew how the industry often chews up young stars. She attended Harvard, majoring in Chinese, graduating magna cum laude in 1989, largely on the strength of her thesis, a Hoopes Prize-winning thesis on racial conflict in China, written and researched during the year spent in Beijing, which helped her fluency in Mandarin Chinese.
However, she showed interest in a career in acting from an early age, and moved to New York City to try her hand in the City's film industry, waitressing, auditioning and working at the Tribeca production company of Robert De Niro. She succeeded in getting a little television work in the early 1990s, but