Born in Leicester, England on October 5, 1975, Parminder Nagra is the eldest child of Sukha and Nashuter Nagra, both Sikh factory workers who emigrated from India in the 1960s. Nagra attended the Northfield House Primary School in Leicester and attended Soar Valley College as her comprehensive school. There, she played viola in the youth orchestra, as well as appearing in her first theatrical productions there.
Jez Simons, her former drama instructor, approached Nagra about joining the Haithizi Productions theatre company, of which he was the artistic director. She accepted and was cast as a chorus member in the 1994 musical Nimai presented at the Leicester Haymarket. However, she replaced the lead actress one week into rehearsal, after the original actress dropped out.
Nagra's notable roles include Jess in Bend It Like Beckham, Dr. Neela Rahgotra in ER and Dr. Lucy Banerjee in Alcatraz. She was also honored as an Olympic torch bearer as the Olympic torch passed through London for the 2004 Summer Olympics in Athens.
Other films include Twenty8k, Ella Enchanted and The Swap. TV series include Psych, The Whole Truth, Turning World and Holby City. She voiced Ada in “TRON: Uprising”.