Born in Mumbai, India, she was one of two daughters born to bank manager Frederick Pinto and his wife Sylvia, a school principal; sister Sharon later became an associate producer for the NDTV news channel. After graduating from St. Xavier's College in Mumbai, Pinto's dream of becoming an actress began with work as a popular model on the Indian circuit; among her considerable campaigns in print and on television between 2005 and 2008 were spots and layouts for eBay, De Beers, MTV and India Today. In 2006, she added television presenter to her rapidly expanding resume by hosting the travel series "Full Circle" for the Zee Channel International Asia Pacific network. The program took Pinto to vacation spots throughout the Asian subcontinent, as well as to politically significant areas like Afghanistan to showcase the devastation wreaked upon its history and culture by international conflict.In 2007, Pinto took the next step to making her acting goal a reality by auditioning for features. After six months of rigorous tryouts, she earned her acting debut when director Danny Boyle selected her from hundreds of hopefuls to play the heroine of "Slumdog Millionaire." She then underwent an intensive three-month course in acting with theater coach Barry John before commencing work on "Millionaire." The training appeared to have paid off; Pinto's performance as the orphan girl Latika, who endures poverty and exploitation before her rescue by the film's hero (Dev Patel), was filled with an impressive degree of grit for a first-time performer. Critics around the globe appeared to agree - in particular the British Academy of Film and Television Arts, who bestowed a 2009 nomination for Best Supporting Actress on her. Her next screen role was a supporting part in Woody Allen's "You Will Meet A Tall, Dark Stranger" (2010), followed by the title role in Julian Schnabel's terrorism drama "Miral" (2010). After a supporting role in the series reboot "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" (2011), Pinto starred in Michael Winterbottom's romantic drama "Trishna" (2011) and the adventure drama "Day of the Falcon" (2011). A key role as Phaedra in Tarsem Singh's fantasy "Immortals" (2011) was followed with a co-starring part in the biopic "Desert Dancer" (2014) opposite Nazanin Boniadi.