A beautiful Israeli import with dark hair and flashing eyes, Mili Avital was a celebrated performer in her native land, winning an Israeli Academy Award at age eighteen before moving to New York to study acting and try her hand in the United States market. With a demo reel in Hebrew and somewhat tentative English skills, Avital nonetheless quickly landed her first starring role after being discovered while waitressing on Manhattan's West Side. She was cast as the female lead in Roland Emmerich's sci-fi epic "Stargate" (1994), a role that would win the young actress much attention from the start. Working steadily throughout the mid- to late-1990s, Avital was featured alongside Johnny Depp in Jim Jarmusch's stylized Western "Dead Man" (1995) and took a starring role opposite Johnathon Schaech as a woman wishing to terminate her pregnancy who is stalked by the mentally unstable would-be father in the HBO-premiered disturbing thriller "Invasion of Privacy" (1996). In 1997 she had a smaller role in the Wim Wenders-directed drama "The End of Violence" and finally followed up with some lighter fare, starring as a woman dating one man (David Schwimmer) but possibly in love with his friend (Jason Lee) in the romantic comedy "Kissing a Fool" (1998), jump-starting her off screen romance with Schwimmer. A role in the independent drama "Animals" cast the actress as an American from the deep South, an accent she tackled with gusto. She was next featured in the independent romance "The Young Girl and the Monsoon" (1999).
In 1999, Avital began working in impressive television projects, beginning with a guest role on the debut episode of the critically-acclaimed spin-off series "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit" (NBC), which she would revisit in 2001, playing Romanian twins embroiled in a murder. The actress' exotic good looks and compelling presence made her a clear choice to play Scheherezade in the ABC miniseries "Arabian Nights" (2000), a role to which she brought a solid combination of engaging sweetness and alluring mystery. She co-starred in "After the Storm", a dramatic adaptation of Ernest Hemingway's short story for the USA Network in 2001, and was featured in the romantic thriller "Minotaur" (premiered on Cinemax) that same year. Playing a Jewish freedom fighter in "Uprising", the 2001 NBC miniseries chronicling the 1943 Warsaw Ghetto, offered Avital a chance to dig into her roots, returning to her homeland to research her significant role in this powerful historic drama.