Alia Shawkat was born in Riverside, California, to Dina Burke and actor Tony Shawkat. Her maternal grandfather, Paul Burke, was also an actor. Her father is from Baghdad, Iraq, and her mother has Irish, Italian, and Norwegian ancestry. Success arrived early for Alia. Her career began at the young age of 11 when she landed a role on the ABC Family series State of Grace (2001). She later starred as "Maeby Funke" on Fox's Emmy-award winning Arrested development - Les nouveaux pauvres (2003) where she portrayed a rebellious and mischievous member of a dysfunctional Orange County family trying to adjust to their loss of wealth. Alia was introduced to show business by appearing in a Calvin Klein catalog, which immediately attracted the attention of commercial and theatrical agents in Hollywood. She soon landed a role opposite George Clooney in Les rois du désert (1999). This was followed by a supporting lead in the Ron Perlman' movie Mon ami Sam (2000). But it was State of Grace (2001) that catapulted her into the forefront of young actresses. She has also had guest-starring roles on JAG: Judge Advocate General (1995), FBI - Portés disparus (2002), Boomtown (2002) and Hôpital San Francisco (2002) and she recently starred opposite Martin Lawrence in Basket Academy (2005). At 16 years old, when she was not filming, Alia attended a private school near her home in Rancho Mirage where she was able to continue her studies in English, Physics, Math, Geography and Drama. Her ambition is eventually to attend Yale University studying International Relations. In her free time, Alia enjoys horseback riding, ice-skating and dancing. She is an accomplished pianist and speaks several languages. She splits her time between her home and Rancho Mirage and Los Angeles where she resides with her parents and her two brothers.