Carlo D. Rota, actor, television host (born 17 April 1961 in London, England). Distinguished by his elegant accent and smooth, baritone delivery, Mediterranean looks and air of refinement, Carlo Rota is a successful character actor of Italian descent who is often cast as a Muslim, an erudite professional, or an ethnically ambiguous villain.
The son of renowned Italian chef Dante Rota, Carlo Rota grew up in Soho and lived in Hong Kong, Italy and the Bahamas before his family settled in Toronto. He was a successful maître d’ in London, New York and Toronto before deciding at age 30 to become an actor. It wasn’t long before he landed bit parts in the Canadian television series “Street Legal” and “Counterstrike,” as well as a small role in François Girard’s acclaimed experimental biopic Thirty Two Short Films About Glenn Gould (1993).
After cutting his teeth in syndicated shows such as “Kung Fu: The Legend Continues,” “The Sentinel” and “Highlander: The Raven,” he landed recurring roles on “Traders” (1996–98), “La Femme Nikita” (1997–2001) and “Queer as Folk” (2002–04), and a small part in the cult film The Boondock Saints (1999). He also found the perfect fit for his two passions as the cultivated yet down-to-earth host of Food Network Canada’s “The Great Canadian Food Show” (1998–2004), which was nominated for a James Beard Award for excellence in culinary journalism and a 2001 Gemini Award for best host. He continued to work steadily in television before being cast by “Nikita” writer Joel Surnow in the hit US political thriller “24” in 2006. His thriving career in episodic television also includes roles in “CSI: NY,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “Castle,” “Bones,” “Breaking Bad” and “The Mentalist.”
Rota earned a Gemini nomination for his lead performance in the CBC TV movie “Othello: the Tragedy of the Moor” (2008), but he is perhaps best-known to Canadian audiences as Yasir Hamoudi, the self-serving Lebanese-Canadian construction contractor who helps establish his town’s first mosque in the hit CBC comedy series “Little Mosque on the Prairie” (2007–12). He has been married to Indo-Canadian actress Nazneen Contractor since 2010.