Monica Potter was born in Cleveland, Ohio to an Irish Catholic family. Growing up, she was a part of the St. Jerome Parish in Cleveland, and went to the elementary school there as a child. She first attended high school at Villa Angela Catholic School for Girls, then later graduated from the Euclid High School. Potter, one of four daughters, was born Monica Gregg Brokaw in Cleveland, Ohio, to an Irish American Roman Catholic family. Her father, Paul Brokaw, was the inventor of the first flame-resistant car wax, and her mother, Nancy, was a secretary. During her childhood, she was a part of the St. Jerome Parish in Cleveland, and attended the local elementary school, as well as Villa Angela Catholic School for Girls, before graduating from Euclid High School. She also spent part of her early years in Arab, Alabama. Potter had wanted to be an actress since childhood, as well as a nun.