Malin was born in Stockholm, Sweden and raised in Toronto, Canada. Her mother, Pia (Sundström), is a model and aerobics instructor, and her father, Magnus Åkerman, is an insurance broker. They moved to Toronto when she was two. At age five, she began appearing in TV commercials. Her parents divorced when she was six and her father returned to Sweden.
At 17, she won the Canadian Ford Supermodel title and spent three years as a model in Europe. She decided to become a child psychologist and enrolled in York University but she was offered a guest role in Earth: Final Conflict so she turned her attention back to acting. She moved to Los Angeles in 2001 and won roles in both TV and film. Her breakthrough role came when she was cast as Silk Spectre II in Watchmen.