Tomei was born in Brooklyn, New York, the daughter of Patricia Adelaide "Addie" (née Bianchi), an English teacher, and Gary A. Tomei followed up As the World Turns in 1986 with a role on the sitcom A Different World as Maggie Lauten during the first season.
Tomei also shared a Screen Actors Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Performance by a Cast.
In 2002 she appeared in the Bollywood-inspired film The Guru and voiced the role of Bree Blackburn, the main antagonist in the animated feature film The Wild Thornberrys Movie.
Tomei is equally fine as Mildred's younger, hot-tempered neighbor, whose raw working-class feistiness and bluntly profane vocabulary initially repel the genteel older woman." She received her first Screen Actor's Guild Award nomination for Outstanding Female Supporting Actor for her performance.
In 1998, she received an American Comedy Award nomination for Funniest Supporting Actress for Tamara Jenkins's cult film Slums of Beverly Hills.
In 1996, she made a guest appearance on the sitcom Seinfeld, playing herself in the two-part episode "The Cadillac".
In the episode, George Constanza attempts to get a date with her through a friend of Elaine Benes.
The cast just watched the movie together at the big Hollywood premiere, and RDJ said "All I know is, Chris Evans is such a nervous nelly.
He gets all — I mean, he plays a real butch guy in the movie. He's like 'Bro, I don't know, should you go first, should I go first?
I love Captain America — I hate to say it, I'm not supposed to say it, I love Chris, I love Captain America. ' I was like 'Man up, we've got to go to this premiere together! Apparently Evans brought, or at least invited, New England Patriots players to the premiere.
And if you saw his JKL clip from earlier this week, you know he's basically in love with Tom Brady.
Tomei did however, parody her role from My Cousin Vinny, which had considerable Brooklyn influence, in a skit (out of several recurring) spoofing the 1995 O. In 2001, Tomei appeared in Todd Field's Best Picture nominee In the Bedroom, earning several awards including a Sho West Award for Best Supporting Actress in 2002.