Born on January 7, 1909, in Perth, Australia, to an English father and a Greek mother, Mary Evans came to Bombay at the age of five with her father. She learnt horse riding during a stay in the Northwest Frontier Province, and then studied ballet under Madame Astrova after returning to Bombay in the mid-20's. She toured India as a theatre artiste and worked for the Zarko Circus in 1930. She changed her name to Nadia at the instance of a fortune teller.
In 1934 she got her first break in films, acting in two of them that year-- Desh Deepak and Noor-e-Yaman. The audience's response to the blue-eyed blonde was favourable, and she soon found herself starring as Hunterwali in the film of the same name.
In 1943 she appeared in Homi Wadia's sequel, Daughter of Hunterwali, to her most famous film. She had a run of hits, Tigress, Stunt Queen, Miss Frontier Mail, Diamond Queen, Jungle Princess, Baghdad ka Jadoo, Khilari and Lady Robinhood. Her only "social", Mauj, flopped. In a career spanning twenty seven years, she acted in more than 55 movies, of which 35 appearances were opposite the muscleman John Cowas.
She retired from the screen in 1961 and married her long time associate and director Homi Wadia. In retirement she took to breeding thoroughbreds. Her colt "Nijinsky" was once the greatest racehorse on Indian turf. In 1993, her grandson Riyad Vinci Wadia made a documentary on her life, called Fearless- The Hunterwali Story.
She died in the Cumballa Hill Hospital, in Bombay, on January 8, 1996.