Luttrell was born in Lushoto, Tanzania, one of four daughters born to a British-American father from Louisiana, and Tanzanian mother. Her family emigrated to Canada when she was five years old, and she was raised there. Her family was very musical; her father, a former member of the critically acclaimed Mendelssohn Choir, trained Luttrell's soprano voice. She studied ballet at the prestigious Russian Academy of Classical Ballet School and also studied piano at the Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
Her training in dance and music naturally led her to the stage. She made her professional début in a production of Miss Saigon in Toronto. She would go on to appear in roles in other stage productions such as Goblin Market, Las Meninas and Once on this Island.
Following a move to Los Angeles as a teenager, Luttrell would go on to appear in guest roles on television series such as ER, Charmed, and Forever Knight. Frustrated with some of the roles being offered to her at the time, she was considering giving up on her acting career, and enrolling in UCLA to study architecture; however, in that same year of 2004, she was cast in her most high-profile role to date, as Teyla Emmagan on Stargate: Atlantis.
Since joining the cast of Stargate: Atlantis, Luttrell has also acted in Stop Thief! and The Aviary. In 2006 she had a guest role in A Dog's Breakfast, the first film to be directed by her Stargate: Atlantis co-star David Hewlett. Among her rare post-Atlantis appearances onscreen are two separate roles on the NCIS franchise, the first being a guest-starring role in the NCIS Season 9 episode, "Sins of the Father" where she played Lieutenant Commander Stephanie Messner which aired in 2011. Two years later, in 2013, she reappeared in the NCIS spin-off series, "NCIS: Los Angeles" in the Season 5 episode, "Big Brother" as CIA agent Yvette Lowell.
In June 2007, the producers of Stargate: Atlantis confirmed that Luttrell and her husband, Loyd Bateman, were expecting their first child. The pregnancy was written into the storyline. Luttrell gave birth to a boy named Caden Dar in October 2007.
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