Deakins was born in New York City, the daughter of Alice, a professor at William Paterson University, and Roger, a retired New York University professor. She graduated from Stuyvesant High School and enrolled in Harvard University in 1988. She graduated in 1994 with a degree in comparative religion. She took time off for acting jobs and to backpack across Europe.
In 2007, she graduated from University of Washington School of Law and is a practicing attorney in Denver, Coloradospecializing in the energy industry.