A member of a military family, she and her four siblings spent their childhoods moving between bases in Japan and Oklahoma. "I was perpetually the new kid," she says, "and it's always hard to have to break through those barriers. But when I would come home sad about something like girls being mean at school, my mother would just say, 'Figure it out.' We were never allowed to feel sorry for ourselves.
"My mom gave us the message that when something was happening to us, we were smart enough to change it," she continues. "Whether it changes for the better or even the worse, at least you've tried. And that gave me a strong sense of self-worth."
Not to mention flexibility, an attribute reflected in her diverse career. Munn, 35, has been a correspondent on Comedy Central's The Daily Show With Jon Stewart, played a financial news reporter on Aaron Sorkin's HBO series The Newsroom, and held her own in film comedies like Steven Soderbergh's Magic Mike. Now she's starring in the Kevin Hart romp Ride Along 2 and making a cameo appearance in Zoolander 2, and she'll get in on the blockbuster action next summer with X-Men: Apocalypse, playing the sword-swinging Psylocke.
A self-professed geek (she can turn any PC into a gaming rig) who has posed for the cover of Playboy (albeit in a bikini), Munn makes no apologies for being funny, smart, and beautiful.
That sense of acceptance was hard-earned. "I didn't start out feeling comfortable with how I looked," Munn says. "I grew up with a sister who had this very voluptuous body and other girls at school were tall and thin, and I wasn't those things," she remembers.
"Then I moved from Oklahoma to Hollywood, and I was showing up at auditions in my Sunday best with high heels and a dress. I'd go in with these really tall, thin girls with their jeans and ballet flats and tank tops and they made it look so effortless. So I had to figure it out because it wasn't working for me, but wanting to feel pretty was never a crime in my family."