Morena was born in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Her mother is Brazilian stage and TV actress Vera Setta. When she was 10, Baccarin moved with her family to Greenwich Village, New York, in the United States. She later attended the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts (the High School featured in the movie Fame) before she entered the theater program at Juilliard. Wes Bentley was a classmate there.
Baccarin landed her first feature film role in the improvised fashion world comedy Perfume (2001). This was followed by a lead role in the film festival hit Way Off Broadway (2001). Shortly before moving to Los Angeles, California, Baccarin appeared with Natalie Portman and understudied for her role in the acclaimed Central Park production of The Seagull. Firefly was Baccarin's first television show, and she reprised her role in the 2005 film Serenity.
In February 2005, Baccarin provided the voice for Black Canary in multiple episodes of the animated television series Justice League Unlimited. She also guest starred in two episodes of the television series The O.C. in 2006.
In April 2006, it was announced that Morena would be playing the adult version of Adria, a recurring villain in the tenth season of Stargate SG-1. She first appeared in season 10 episode "Counterstrike" as adult Adria (the younger character of Adria was previously played by other actresses). She appeared on the November 6, 2006, broadcast of How I Met Your Mother; Barney, who she mistakenly calls "Swarley" (portrayed by Neil Patrick Harris), commented that her character had "crazy eyes." On December 22, 2006 she appeared in a supporting role as Lisa Cruz on Justice the FOX network television show.
In November 2009, Baccarin began appearing as "Anna", the leader of the Visitors, in the ABC remake-series, V.
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