Grew Up… in Chicago, with her large, loud, traditional Greek family. Toula has always known she was different from all the blonde, pretty girls in school. She describes her younger self as a “swarthy 6-year-old with sideburns” who had to go to Greek school instead of Brownies.
Living… at home. Toula is now 30, and she is the only woman in her family who has failed to find a nice, Greek husband and have babies. She describes herself as a “frump” and doesn’t really wear makeup. Toula is embarrassed that her whole family pities her for being single, so she decides to take matters into her own hands.
Profession… hostess at her family’s restaurant, “Dancing Zorba’s.” But, lately Toula has wanted to make a life for herself away from the family business. To learn some skills, she convinces her very reluctant father to let her take computer classes at a local college. Using what she’s learned, Toula starts working for her Aunt Voula’s travel agency. Her passion for her new job and her newfound pride her appearance give Toula a sense of confidence and optimism.
Interests… her new job, but someone new has captured her attention. While still working at Zorba’s, a handsome professor named Ian Miller came into the restaurant and the awkward, insecure Toula really embarrassed herself in front of him. Later, Ian sees her working at the travel agency and introduces himself to the unrecognizable Greek beauty. It was only on their first date that Ian realizes he has already met her. The two subsequently spend a lot of time together, and Toula starts to fall for him.
Relationship Status… single until Toula falls for someone who is not Greek: professor Ian Miller. She doesn’t see how it could ever work – how could she explain her eccentric and obnoxious family to a white, Protestant male with only two first cousins? And, how could she explain to her meat-loving family that Ian is a vegetarian? To her surprise, their relationship gets serious quickly, and before she knows it, she’s engaged to Ian. What he doesn’t know is that he’s engaged not just to Toula, but her whole family.
Challenge… integrating her WASP boyfriend into her crazy family. Although at first the family is wary of Ian because of his non-Greek background, Toula’s family learns to accept him. When they hear about the wedding, her family members are eager to help, but unfortunately do more harm than good. For example, her mom takes the liberty of ordering invitations, but misspells Ian’s mother’s name as “Harry” instead of “Harriet.”
Personality… frumpy, cynical, and insecure at first – but Toula overcomes her early midlife crisis and becomes a successful, confident woman. Because of her new self-esteem, Toula is able to open her heart to. She has always been more open-minded than her family, and is learning that she can cherish her heritage without going overboard like her father. Ultimately, Toula is smart and caring, and really loves her family despite how much they get on her nerves.
Toula Portokalos's popularity ranking on CharacTour is #1453 out of 5,300+ characters. See our top-ranked characters and read their profiles.
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