Larisa Romanovna Oleynik (/ /; born June 7, 1981) is an American actress who became a teen idol in the 1990s. During her period as a teen idol, she was described as "one of America's favorite 15-year-olds", and "the proverbial girl next door".
Oleynik in 2015
Larisa Romanovna Oleynik
June 7, 1981
|Residence||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Alma mater||Sarah Lawrence College|
Born in Santa Clara and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California, Oleynik began her career as a child actor, first appearing onstage as young Cosette in a national touring production of Les Misérables (1989–1991). She was subsequently cast in the titular role on the Nickelodeon sci-fi series The Secret World of Alex Mack from 1994 to 1998. She also began a film career, starring in an ensemble cast as Dawn Schafer in the film adaptation The Baby-Sitters Club (1995), and in a lead role in the teen comedy 10 Things I Hate About You (1999).
Oleynik subsequently had a supporting role in the comedy 100 Girls (2000), after which she starred opposite Nastassja Kinski and Scarlett Johansson in the period film An American Rhapsody (2001), and the independent drama Bringing Rain (2003). She later had supporting roles in Atlas Shrugged: Part II (2011) and the horror film Jessabelle (2014). From 2010 to 2015, she had a recurring role as Cynthia Cosgrove on the AMC series Mad Men, and as Icy on the animated series Winx Club (2011–2015).
Early life and education
Larisa Romanovna Oleynik was born June 7, 1981 in Santa Clara, California, to Lorraine (née Allen), a former nurse, and anesthesiologist Roman Oleynik (1936–2003). Her father was of Ukrainian ancestry, and she was raised in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Oleynik was raised in the San Francisco Bay Area. She graduated from the Pinewood School in Los Altos, California, in 1999. As her acting career flourished, she would "divide her time between normal childhood experiences in Northern California and auditions in Los Angeles."
Oleynik began acting in a San Francisco production of Les Misérables in 1989 after seeing an audition ad in a newspaper when she was eight years old. She obtained two parts in the production (young Cosette and young Eponine), both with singing roles. After appearing in the musical, she was referred to an agent by her Les Misérables co-star, Rider Strong, and began to take formal acting lessons. "I remember being 10 years old and thinking, 'I want to be good at this'... It wasn’t about, 'I want to be on TV'. It was more looking around at the other kids and being like, 'I’m not good at sports, I’m not really smart. I think I could be good at this, though'."
Her onscreen acting career began at age 12, in a 1993 episode of the television series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman; the same year she also appeared in the made-for-television film River of Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene, and provided the voice of young Odette in the animated feature film The Swan Princess (1994).
In 1996 she made a cameo on the series The Adventures of Pete & Pete as a nurse at the beginning of the episode "Dance Fever". Later in 1993, she was subsequently cast in the lead role of the series The Secret World of Alex Mack where she portrayed a teenage girl who receives telekinetic powers as the result of an accident. She won the role of Alex Mack over 400 other aspirants. The series ran on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1998 and was one of the network's top three most watched shows, becoming quite a favorite among the child and teen audiences and turning Oleynik into a teen idol. During the show's heyday, children who met Oleynik (and were too young to understand special effects) would often ask her to "morph" for them. Rather than try to explain things, she would quickly glance around, then tell them "Not here – everybody would see!". Oleynik reprised the role in an All That sketch, although the name was changed to "Alex Sax". She later made an appearance in the 100th episode of the show.
Also during her time on The Secret World of Alex Mack, she played Dawn Schafer, one of the lead characters in the 1995 feature film The Baby-Sitters Club (1995), opposite Rachael Leigh Cook and Schuyler Fisk, appeared in several episodes of Boy Meets World, wrote an advice column for Tiger Beat magazine, and was involved in Nickelodeon's The Big Help charity, Hands Across Communication, Surfrider Foundation and the Starlight Children's Foundation. She has also hosted the CableACE Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, YTV Achievement Awards, The Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards as well as The Big Help. She has commented that she stayed "grounded" during her period as a teen star, mainly through the help of a "strong network of people" that she is close to.
After The Secret World of Alex Mack ended its run, Oleynik had a starring role in the film 10 Things I Hate About You as Bianca. The film was released in April 1999 and did fairly well at the box office, grossing a total of $38 million domestically. From 1998 to 2000, Oleynik appeared in twenty-one episodes of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun as Alissa Strudwick. During 2000, she also appeared in two independent films: 100 Girls (opposite Emmanuelle Chriqui, Katherine Heigl and Jonathan Tucker) and A Time for Dancing (opposite Shiri Appleby); neither film received a theatrical release in the United States.
Oleynik had a supporting role in the independent drama film An American Rhapsody (2001), opposite Nastassja Kinski and Scarlett Johansson, which follows a young woman whose parents are forced to leave her behind in Communist Hungary while they flee to the United States.
Oleynik had a supporting part in Bringing Rain (2003), a low-budget teen drama starring Adrian Grenier and Paz de la Huerta, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival. In 2005, she appeared as a guest star on the series Malcolm in the Middle as Reese Wilkerson's lesbian army buddy who develops a crush on Lois Wilkerson. Oleynik was cast in a supporting role in the series Pepper Dennis, which began airing on The WB in April 2006, but was not picked up by The WB's successor The CW. The same year, she starred in the independent drama Pope Dreams.
In March 2008, Oleynik guest-starred in episode 13 of Aliens in America. In 2009, she provided audio commentary for the 10 Things I Hate About You 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. In March 2011, Oleynik started appearing in a recurring role on Hawaii Five-0 as CIA analyst Jenna Kaye until her character was later killed off. She was subsequently cast in the Ayn Rand adaptation Atlas Shrugged: Part II (2012), as Cherryl Brooks, a store clerk who becomes acquainted with the protagonist, Dagny Taggart (portrayed by Samantha Mathis). John Tammy of Forbes praised it as a "must-see" film. Oleynik also guest-starred as Ken Cosgrove's girlfriend (and later wife) Cynthia Baxter in several episodes on the AMC television series Mad Men.
In 2016, Oleynik starred in the one-woman show I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti at the Hangar Theatre in Ithaca, New York. Beginning 2017, Oleynik began starring in the Off-Broadway musical comedy Baghdaddy. In 2019 it was announced that Oleynik would be starring in the forthcoming Netflix family comedy series, The Healing Powers of Dude.
In January 2013, according to TMZ, Oleynik was granted a restraining order against one of her fans, who she claims was so obsessed he changed his last name to hers as well as leaving gifts for her at her mother's apartment.
|1994||The Swan Princess||Pre-teen Odette||Voice role|
|1995||The Baby-Sitters Club||Dawn Schafer|
|1998||The Swan Princess: Sing Along||Pre-teen Odette||Voice role; short film|
|1999||10 Things I Hate About You||Bianca Stratford|
|2001||An American Rhapsody||Maria Sandor (age 18)|
|2002||A Time for Dancing||Jules Michaels|
|2002||Speciale Casting||Jules Michaels||Archived; uncredited|
|2003||Bringing Rain||Ori Swords|
|2006||Pope Dreams||Maggie Venable|
|2009||Together Again for the First Time||Brenda||Direct-to-video|
|2009||I Have It||Emily||Short film|
|2010||Winx Club 3D: Magical Adventure||Icy||Voice; English dub|
|2012||Born Yesterday||Elyse||Short film|
|2012||Atlas Shrugged: Part II||Cherryl Brooks|
|2013||OJ: The Musical||Regina|
|2013||The Mamet Women||Polly||Short film|
|2014||Horrible Parents||Jill||Short film|
|2019||Animal Among Us||Anita Bishop|
|1993||Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman||Susie||Episode: "Heroes"|
|River of Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene||Gail Keene||TV Movie|
|1994–1998||The Secret World of Alex Mack||Alex Mack / Barbara Mack||Lead role (78 episodes); played Barbara Mack in the episode "The Switch"|
|1995||All That||Alex Sax||Episode: "Larisa Oleynik/Da Brat"; sketch: "The Secret World of Alex Sax"|
|1996||The Adventures of Pete & Pete||Nurse||Episode: "Dance Fever"|
|1996–1998||Boy Meets World||Dana Pruitt||3 episodes|
|1997||The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo||Gator World Employee||Episode: "The Alligator Mystery"; uncredited|
|1998–2000||3rd Rock from the Sun||Alissa Strudwick||Recurring role (21 episodes)|
|2005||Malcolm in the Middle||Abby||Episode: "Army Buddy"|
|2006||Katie Sullivan||Katie Sullivan||Lead Role; Pilot|
|Pepper Dennis||Brianna||2 episodes|
|2008||Aliens in America||Zoe||Episode: "Community Theater"|
|2009||Without a Trace||Liza Miller||Episode: "Voir Dire"|
|Psych||Willow Gimbley||Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"|
|2009||Psych||Shawn Spencers Gal|
|2010||Backyard Wedding||Renee||TV Movie|
|2010–2015||Mad Men||Cynthia Cosgrove||Recurring role (5 episodes)|
|2011–2012||Winx Club: Enchantix||Icy / Various||Voice role (28 episodes)|
|2011–2014||Hawaii Five-0||Jenna Kaye||Recurring role (7 episodes)|
|2012||Mike & Molly||Allison||Episode: "The Dress"|
|Fairly Legal||Officer Glacki||Episode: "What They Seem"|
|2012–2013||Winx Club: Beyond Believix||Icy / Various||Voice role (24 episodes)|
|2012–2014||Pretty Little Liars||Maggie Cutler||Recurring role (7 episodes)|
|Winx Club||Icy / Various||Voice role (52 episodes)|
|2013||Remember Sunday||Lauren||TV Movie|
|Ghost Ghirls||Megan||Episode: "Will You Scary Me?"|
|American Dad!||Super hot girl||Voice role; episode: "Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventure"|
|2014||Robot Chicken||Alex Mack / Cheetara / Classmate||Voice role; episode: "Rebel Appliance"|
|Stolen from the Womb||Diane King||TV Movie|
|The Michaels||Katherine Bixby||TV Movie|
|2015||Wish Upon a Christmas||Amelia|
|2016||Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Lizzie Bauer||Episode: "Assaulting Reality"|
|2018–2019||Half Life||Patty||Lead role (4 episodes)|
|2019-2020||Trinkets||Shawn||Recurring role (4 episodes)|
|1989–1991||Les Misérables||Young Cosette / Young Eponine||Second national touring production|
|2014||Be a Good Little Widow||Melody||NoHo Arts Center|
|2016||I Loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti||Giulia||Hangar Theatre|
|2017–2018||Baghdaddy||Berry||St. Luke's Theatre|
- Some sources erroneously state that Oleynik was born in San Francisco, including the Biography Today 1996 Annual Cumulation: Profiles of People of Interest to Young Readers (1996). However, this conflicts with the California Vital Statistics' Birth Index, which lists Larisa Romanovna Oleynik as having been born June 7, 1981 in Santa Clara County. CBS San Francisco confirms in a 2011 article that Oleynik was born in the city of Santa Clara.
- Harris, Laurie Lanzen (1996). Biography Today 1996 Annual Cumulation: Profiles of People of Interest to Young Readers. Detroit, Michigan: Omnigraphics Incorporated. p. 263. ISBN 978-0-780-80070-0.
- Carmichael, Cody (October 25, 2017). "What Happened To Larissa Oleynik - 2018 Update". Gazette Review.
- Graham, Jefferson (4 August 1995). "Her Typical Teen Aura". USA Today. originally reprinted online at virgin.net. Archived from the original on March 11, 2005.
- Spelling, Ian (May 25, 1999). "Rockin' Role". Sun Sentinel.
- "Larisa Oleynik Joins Cast Of 'Hawaii Five-O'". CBS San Francisco. March 3, 2011. Archived from the original on June 1, 2012.
- "Larisa Oleynik Biography (1981-)". Filmreference.com. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
- "Larisa Online". Larisa.com. 13 November 1998. Archived from the original on 18 May 2006. Retrieved April 14, 2006.
- Mendoza, N. F. (October 2, 1994). "SHOWS FOR YOUNGSTERS AND THEIR PARENTS TOO : Larisa Oleynik finds the secret is to have fun as 'Alex Mack'". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on August 28, 2014.
- Lawson, Sarah (May 27, 2013). "Pinewood Alumni Larisa Oleynik Continues Her Success in Hollywood". Pinewood School. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
- "The Michaels". PixL TV. Archived from the original on August 24, 2017.
- Larisa Oleynik Celebrity Interview for Bringing Rain (2003) at The Movie Insider
- Davis, Jasmen. "Celebrity Spotlight: Larisa Oleynik". Girls' Life Magazine. Archived from the original on April 24, 2006.
- Peitzman, Louis (June 2, 2017). "Larisa Oleynik Is Here To Prove She's More Than Alex Mack". BuzzFeed. Archived from the original on October 7, 2017.
- "Larisa Oleynik". Internet Broadway Database. Archived from the original on July 11, 2017.
- Maitland, Judith. "Big Mack Attack". Originally reprinted online at virgin.net. Archived from the original on March 11, 2005.
- Thomas, Kevin (August 18, 1995). "MOVIE REVIEW : 'Baby-Sitters': 7 Lovely Girls Show Grace Under Pressure". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on September 28, 2016.
- "PEOPLE Online Hosts Larisa Oleynik". originally reprinted online at virgin.net. 29 May 1997. Archived from the original on 2002-03-23. Retrieved April 14, 2006.
- Radovsky, Vicki Jo (October 1996). "A World Of Her Own". TV Guide. originally reprinted online at virgin.net. Archived from the original on 2005-03-11. Retrieved April 14, 2006.
- "10 Things I Hate about You". The Numbers. Archived from the original on May 8, 2006.
- Kehr, David (August 10, 2001). "FILM REVIEW; The Funny Foreignness Of Hamburgers and Coke". The New York Times. Archived from the original on May 27, 2015.
- Scheib, Ronnie (June 3, 2003). "Bringing Rain". Variety. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
- Eames, Tom (May 24, 2016). "The Secret Life of Alex Mack ended 18 years ago: what do the cast look like now?". Digital Spy. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
- "Pople Dreams Cast and Crew". AllMovie. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
- "Hawaii Five-0 Adds Cast Member". CBS.com. Archived from the original on January 20, 2011. Retrieved January 20, 2011.
- Harvey, Dennis (October 13, 2012). "Atlas Shrugged: Part II – The Strike". Variety. Archived from the original on January 16, 2019.
- Tammy, John (October 7, 2012). "Movie Review: Why Atlas Shrugged, Part II Is a Must See Film". Forbes. Archived from the original on December 27, 2015.
- "Q&A – Larisa Oleynik (Cynthia Cosgrove)". Mad Men. AMC. 2013. Archived from the original on May 3, 2018.
- Journal Staff (June 14, 2016). "Hangar Theatre makes 'Spaghetti' to launch season". The Ithaca Journal. Ithaca, New York. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
- Petski, Denise; Petski, Denise (20 June 2019). "Netflix Orders 'The Healing Powers Of Dude' Family Live Action Comedy Series". Deadline.
- Raftery, Liz (4 February 2013). "Alex Mack Star Larisa Oleynik Gets Restraining Order Against Stalker". TV Guide. Retrieved 12 February 2015.
- "Larisa Oleynik Credits". TV Guide. Archived from the original on July 7, 2017.
- The Swan Princess: Sing-Along (VHS). Nest Entertainment, Inc. 1998. ASIN B00063FXK8.
- "Larisa Oleynik Filmography". AllMovie. Retrieved January 30, 2019.
- Martin, Anita (May 10, 2006). "Out of "Relative Obscurity"". Ohio University Outlook. Ohio University. Archived from the original on June 10, 2010.
- "The Secret World of Actress Larisa Oleynik". ITSA Film Festival. April 9, 2013. Archived from the original on October 7, 2018.
- Merry, Stephanie; O'Sullivan, Michael; Hornaday, Ann (June 20, 2014). "Watch online: 'OJ: The Musical,' 'As I Lay Dying' and 'Burning Bush'". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
- "Rember Sunday". IMDb.
- "BFFs". Riverfront Times. St. Louis, Missouri. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
- "The Mamet Women". Cleveland International Film Festival. Archived from the original on September 6, 2015.
- "Larisa Oleynik Filmographie". AlloCiné (in French). Archived from the original on December 27, 2017.
- Waslasky, Casey (February 24, 2016). "Alex from 'The Secret World of Alex Mack' is all grown up and she's absolutely gorgeous". AOL. Archived from the original on January 25, 2016.
- Culwell-Block, Logan (August 28, 2018). "Off-Broadway Baghdaddy Musical Will Release Cast Album Featuring SpongeBob SquarePants' Ethan Slater". Playbill. Archived from the original on January 30, 2019.
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