Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein (//; born April 4, 1979), known professionally as Natasha Lyonne, is an American actress, writer, producer and director. She is best known for her portrayal of Nicky Nichols in the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black (2013–2019), for which she received an Emmy Award nomination in 2014, and for her role as Jessica in the American Pie film series (1999–2012). She is also a co-creator, executive producer and writer for the 2019 Netflix series Russian Doll, where she plays the lead role of Nadia Vulvokov.
Lyonne at the 2014 Peabody Awards
Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein
April 4, 1979
New York City, New York, U.S.
|Residence||New York City, New York, U.S.|
|Occupation||Actress, writer, producer, director|
|Partner(s)||Fred Armisen (2014–present)|
Lyonne has appeared in over 50 films, including Everyone Says I Love You (1996), Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), Detroit Rock City, But I'm a Cheerleader (both 1999), Scary Movie 2, The Grey Zone, Kate & Leopold (all 2001), Party Monster, Die Mommie Die! (both 2003), Blade: Trinity (2004), Robots (2005), All About Evil (2010), Sleeping with Other People, Hello My Name Is Doris, Addicted to Fresno (all 2015), Yoga Hosers, Antibirth, The Intervention (all 2016), and Show Dogs (2018).
Lyonne's parents were from Orthodox Jewish families, and she was raised Orthodox. Her mother was born in Paris, France, to Hungarian Jewish parents who were Holocaust survivors. Lyonne has darkly joked that her family consists of "my father's side, Flatbush, and my mother's side, Auschwitz." Her grandmother Ella came from a large family, but only she and her two sisters and two brothers survived, which Lyonne credits to their blond hair and blue eyes. Lyonne's grandfather, Morris Buchinger, operated a watch company in Los Angeles. During the war, he hid in Budapest as a non-Jew working in a leather factory.
Lyonne lived the first eight years of her life in Great Neck, New York. She and her parents then moved to Israel, where Lyonne spent a year and a half. During her stay in Israel, Lyonne participated in the production of the Israeli children's film April Fool, which began her interest in acting. Her parents divorced, and Lyonne and her older brother Adam returned to America with their mother. After moving back to New York City, Lyonne attended The Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Upper School of Ramaz, a private Jewish school, where Lyonne said she was a scholarship kid who took honors Talmud classes and read Aramaic. She was expelled for selling marijuana at school. Lyonne grew up on the Upper East Side, where she felt she was an outcast. Her mother then moved their family to Miami, where Lyonne attended Miami Country Day School. She never graduated from high school; she left before her senior year to attend a film program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Her high school graduation depended on completing her first year at Tisch, but she left the program because she could not pay the tuition.
She attended New York University for a short time, studying film and philosophy.
Lyonne was estranged from her father, who was a Democratic candidate for City Council for the sixth District of Manhattan in 2013, and lived on the Upper West Side until his death in October 2014. Lyonne has said she is not close to her mother and has essentially lived independently of her family since age 16.
As a young child, Lyonne was signed by the Ford Modeling Agency. At the age of six, she was cast as Opal on Pee-wee's Playhouse, followed by film appearances in Heartburn, A Man Called Sarge, and Dennis the Menace. On working as a very young child actor, Lyonne said: "I didn't have the best parents. I don't think they are bad people. Even if they were ready to have children, it is kind of a wacky idea to put your child in business at six years old."
At 16 years of age, Lyonne was cast in the Woody Allen-directed Everyone Says I Love You (1996). This led to appearances in a variety of films over the next 10 years, including starring roles in the independent features Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), for which she received two Teen Choice Award nominations, and But I'm a Cheerleader (1999). During this time, she appeared as Jessica in the highly successful teen comedy American Pie (1999), reprising the role in two of its sequels. Lyonne's other films during this period included Detroit Rock City, Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (both 1999), Scary Movie 2, The Grey Zone, Kate & Leopold (all 2001), Party Monster (2003), and Blade: Trinity (2004).
Lyonne's subsequent film appearances include All About Evil (2010), 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011), Girl Most Likely, Loitering with Intent, Sleeping with Other People, Hello My Name Is Doris, Addicted to Fresno, #Horror, Yoga Hosers, Antibirth, The Intervention, and Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie.
In 2010 Lyonne received positive reviews for her performance in Kim Rosenstock's comedy Tigers Be Still at the Roundabout Theatre Company: "a thorough delight in the flat-out funniest role, the grief-crazed Grace, so deeply immersed in self-pity that she has cast aside any attempts at decorum".
In 2011, Lyonne starred opposite Ethan Hawke and Ann Dowd in New Group's production of Tommy Nohilly's Blood From a Stone. The following year, she participated in New Group's benefit performance of Women Behind Bars.
On working in the theater: "There's something about theater that squashes the self-critical voices because you have to be in the moment. I'm glad that I didn't do this before I was ready, before I was capable of showing up every day. That is not a skill set I had before".
Since 2013 she has appeared as Nicky Nichols on the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. The role is Lyonne's first television job as a series regular. She received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014, and has twice been awarded the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, along with her co-stars.
In 2014 Lyonne was cast in Amy Poehler's NBC comedy pilot Old Soul, directed by David Wain. In 2016 she began voicing the character Smoky Quartz on the Cartoon Network show Steven Universe. She has also appeared as various characters on IFC's sketch comedy series Portlandia. In 2018 she voiced the character Gaz Digzy on Adult Swim's comedy series Ballmastrz: 9009. More recently she has voiced characters on The Simpsons and Netflix's Big Mouth.
Directing and producing
In 2017, Lyonne was approached by Kenzo's creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon to direct the 5th installment in their short film series. For this, her directorial debut, she began writing a script with Maya Rudolph in mind to star. The surrealist short film was titled Cabiria, Charity, Chastity and starred Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Greta Lee, Leslie Odom Jr., and Macaulay Culkin.
In September 2017, Lyonne's project Russian Doll was given an 8-episode straight to series order by Netflix. The comedy, co-created and executive produced by Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland, premiered on February 1, 2019. Lyonne has multiple roles in the series. She is credited as the lead actress and is one of the executive producers of the series with directorial and writing credits.
Lyonne also directed an episode of Orange Is the New Black for its seventh and final season.
Lyonne lives in New York City. When she was 18, Lyonne used the paycheck from her work on Everyone Says I Love You to buy a small apartment near Gramercy Park. At this time, she skipped her senior year of high school to attend NYU Tisch as a double major in film and philosophy.
During the early 2000s, Lyonne experienced legal problems and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and for incidents involving her neighbors. In 2005 she was evicted by her landlord, actor Michael Rapaport, following complaints by other tenants about her behavior.
In 2005, Lyonne was admitted to Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan under a pseudonym, suffering from hepatitis C, a heart infection, and a collapsed lung; she was also undergoing methadone treatment for heroin addiction. In January 2006 a warrant was issued for her arrest after she missed a court hearing relating to her prior problems. Her lawyer said an emergency had arisen but did not give details. Later that year Lyonne was admitted to a drug and alcohol treatment center, and she appeared in court afterward. A judge sentenced her to conditional discharge.
Lyonne underwent open-heart surgery in 2012 to correct valvular damage caused by her heart infection, which could have resulted in sudden death if untreated. She recovered from the surgery, and discussed her past health problems on The Rosie Show in March 2012.
|1990||A Man Called Sarge||Arab Girl|
|1993||Dennis the Menace||Polly|
|1996||Everyone Says I Love You||Djuna "DJ" Berlin|
|1998||Slums of Beverly Hills||Vivian Abromowitz|
|Krippendorf's Tribe||Shelly Krippendorf|
|Detroit Rock City||Christine Sixteen|
|Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby||Crystal "White Girl" Van Meuther|
|But I'm a Cheerleader||Megan Bloomfield|
|The Auteur Theory||Rosemary Olson|
|Fast Sofa||Tamara Jenson|
|Scary Movie 2||Megan Voorhees|
|American Pie 2||Jessica|
|The Grey Zone||Rosa|
|Kate & Leopold||Darci|
|2002||Comic Book Villains||Judy Link|
|Zig Zag||Jenna the Working Girl|
|Night at the Golden Eagle||Amber|
|2003||Die, Mommie, Die!||Edith Sussman|
|My Suicidal Sweetheart||Grace|
|2008||Tricks of a Woman||Sally|
|2009||The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle||Tracy|
|Outrage: Born in Terror||Molly|
|2010||All About Evil||Deborah Tennis|
|2011||4:44 Last Day on Earth||Tina|
|Night Club||Mrs. Keaton|
|He's Way More Famous Than You||Herself|
|Girl Most Likely||Allyson|
|2014||Loitering with Intent||Kaplan|
|2015||Addicted to Fresno||Martha Jackson|
|Sleeping with Other People||Kara|
|Hello, My Name Is Doris||Sally|
|Bloomin Mud Shuffle||Jock|
|2016||Yoga Hosers||Tabitha Collette|
|Adam Green's Aladdin||Mom|
|Jack Goes Home||Nancy|
|2017||Girlfriend's Day||Miss Taft|
|Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie||Det. Fleur Scozzari|
|2018||A Futile and Stupid Gesture||Anne Beatts|
|Ad Astra||Tanya Pincus|
|TBA||The United States Vs. Billie Holiday||Post-production|
|1986||Pee-wee's Playhouse||Opal||Season 1|
|2000||Will & Grace||Gillian||Episode: "Girl Trouble"|
|If These Walls Could Talk 2||Jeanne||Television film|
|2001||Night Visions||Bethany Daniels||Episode: "If a Tree Falls"|
|2002||Grounded for Life||Gretchen||Episode: "Relax!"|
|2007||The Knights of Prosperity||Female Co-Star||Episode: "Operation: Rent Money"|
|2009||Loving Leah||Esther||Television film|
|2011||New Girl||Gretchen||Episode: "Wedding"|
|Law & Order: Special Victims Unit||Gia Eskas||Episode: "Educated Guess"|
|2013||NTSF:SD:SUV::||Mrs. Barbato||Episode: "Comic Con-Air"|
|2013–19||Orange Is the New Black||Nicky Nichols||Main cast; 81 episodes|
Directed season 7, episode 9: "The Hidey Hole"
|Comedy Bang! Bang!||Katie||Episode: "Dax Shepard Wears a Heather Grey Shirt and Black Blazer"|
|Sanjay and Craig||Chido (voice)||Episode: "Bike-o Psycho/Boulder Rollers"|
|2015–16||Inside Amy Schumer||Various||2 episodes|
|2016||The $100,000 Pyramid||Herself||Episode: "Natasha Lyonne vs. Terry Crews"|
|2016–19||Steven Universe||Smoky Quartz (voice)||3 episodes|
|The Simpsons||Sophie (voice)||3 episodes|
|2018–present||Ballmastrz: 9009||Gaz Digzy (voice)||10 episodes|
|2018||Corporate||Gretchen||Episode: "Corporate Retreat"|
|Animals.||VHS Copy of Can't Hardly Wait (voice)||Episode: "Stuff"|
|2018–19||Big Mouth||Suzette (voice)||3 episodes|
|2019–present||Russian Doll||Nadia Vulvokov||Main role; 8 episodes|
Also producer, writer, and director
|2019||Documentary Now!||Carla Meola||Episode: "Long Gone"|
|Explained||Narrator (voice)||Episode: "Pirates"|
Awards and nominations
|1999||Chicago Film Critics Association Awards||Most Promising Actress||Slums of Beverly Hills||Nominated|
|Teen Choice Awards||Film – Breakout Performance||Nominated|
|Film – Funniest Scene (shared with Marisa Tomei)||Nominated|
|2000||Young Hollywood Awards||Best Ensemble Cast||American Pie||Won|
|2008||Monaco International Film Festival||Angel Award, Best Supporting Female Actor||Tricks of Love||Won|
|2014||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series||Orange Is the New Black||Nominated|
|Screen Actors Guild Award||Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series||Won|
|Fangoria Chainsaw Awards||Best Actress||Antibirth||Nominated|
|2019||Primetime Emmy Award||Outstanding Comedy Series (as Executive Producer)||Russian Doll||Nominated|
|Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series||Nominated|
|Television Critics Association Awards||Individual Achievement in Comedy||Nominated|
|Outstanding Achievement in Comedy||Nominated|
|Outstanding New Program||Won|
|Saturn Awards||Best Actress in a Streaming Presentation||Nominated|
|Gotham Award||Breakthrough Series - Shortform||Nominated|
|Writer Guild of America Award||Comedy Series||Pending|
|Satellite Award||Best Actress in a Series, Comedy or Musical||Pending|
|Golden Globes||Best Performance by an Actress in a Television Series, Musical or Comedy||Pending|
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