Born Viola Lynn Collins, reported variously in May or June 1977, [dead link] Collins is from Houston, Texas, and has English, Scottish, and Irish ancestry. She has also claimed to have Cherokee ancestry, referring to herself as "Irish and Cherokee". She spent her formative years in Singapore, with "summers in Japan where her parents were getting their fourth and fifth and sixth dan in Shitō-ryū . . . Okinawa-style karate". During a childhood Christmas pageant in which she played Mrs. Claus, Collins discovered her love for acting.