Even as a teen, Samantha Daniels was helping star-crossed lovers find each other. At summer camp she helped her kid brother Sean sneak across a lake to meet a girl she hand-picked to be his first girlfriend. In college she set up friends who later married. But as an adult the Philadelphia native became a divorce lawyer in New York City—”You’re helping people through a hard part of their lives,” she explains—only to realize that she still felt the pull of her first affection. “It was much more rewarding helping people get together than helping break them apart,” says Daniels, 34. In 2000 she founded Samantha’s Table, which helps busy single professionals find love. The bicoastal business is so successful that Daniels claims 42 marriages, thousands of couplings and fees that run as high as $10,000.
She has another bragging right too: Daniels is the real-life inspiration for NBC’s Miss Match. And like the TV matchmaker played by Alicia Silverstone, she’s single. “I definitely found intriguing that here’s a matchmaker who hasn’t yet made a match for herself,” says Match creator Darren Star. Undaunted, Daniels says, ‘When someone offers to be my matchmaker, I’m willing to listen and to be set up.”