As the great-granddaughter of Art Rooney, founder of the Pittsburgh Steelers, and Tim Mara, founder of the New York Giants, Rooney Mara comes from a long line of Irish-American sporting fame. Though she described football as “the glue that holds our family together” in an interview with The New York Post, Mara has deviated from the family profession and is creating her own path.
Since landing her first small role in a 2005 film called Urban Legends: Bloody Mary, Mara has made impressive strides. She landed her first starring role as Nancy in the 2010 remake of A Nightmare on Elm Street, and played Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg’s college girlfriend in The Social Network, providing a calm yet emotional counter-point to Jesse Eisenberg’s intense and ultra-rational Zuckerberg. Currently, Mara is currently filming The Millennium Series, based on last summer’s runaway bestselling Girl With the Dragon Tattoo novels by Steig Larsson. Mara plays Lisbeth Salander, the female lead, a role she competed for against Scarlett Johansson, Jennifer Lawrence, Natalie Portman, and others.
The Bedford, NY native traces her roots to County Down. She attended NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Studies, where she earned a degree in psychology, international social policy, and non-profits. Mara has actively put her education to use in the running of her charity, Faces of Kibera, which works to give orphans in the Kibera slum of Nairobi, Kenya, the housing, food, and medical care they badly need. The charity’s eventual goal is to build an orphanage on six acres of land it recently purchased.