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Larisa Oleynik
Born Larisa Romanovna Oleynik
June 7, 1981 (1981-06-07) (age 28)
Santa Clara County, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1993–present

Larisa Romanovna Oleynik (pronounced /ləˈrɪsə ɵˈleɪnɨk/; born June 7, 1981) is an American actress. She came to fame in the mid-1990s, after starring in the title role of the popular television series, The Secret World of Alex Mack, and has also appeared in theatrical films, including The Baby-Sitters Club and 10 Things I Hate About You. Throughout the 2000s, she has mostly appeared in lower-budget films.

During her period as a teen idol, Oleynik was described as "one of America's favorite 15-year-olds"[1] and "the proverbial girl next door".[2]


Personal life

Oleynik was born in Santa Clara County, California, the only child of Lorraine (née Allen), a former nurse, and Roman Oleynik, an anesthesiologist.[3] Her father's family is Russian (although "Oleynik" is a Ukrainian surname)[4] and she was raised in the Russian Orthodox religion.[5] Oleynik grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and began acting in a regional production of Les Misérables, after seeing an audition ad in a newspaper when she was eight years old. After appearing in the musical, she contacted an agent and began taking acting lessons. But despite the success in her role as Alex Mack, Oleynik decided to attend college.[6] Oleynik attended Pinewood School and later Sarah Lawrence College, describing the latter as "the best decision I’ve made",[7] and graduated in 2004.


Oleynik began her screen acting career age at 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 was subsequently cast in the lead role of the series The Secret World of Alex Mack, playing a teenage girl who receives telekinetic powers as the result of an accident. The series ran on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1998 and was one of the network's top three most watched shows,[2] becoming a favorite among teen audiences and turning Oleynik into a teen idol.

She made a cameo on The Adventures of Pete & Pete during this time, being a nurse at the beginning of the episode Dance Fever.[8] Also, during The Secret World of Alex Mack's run, she played one of the lead characters in the 1995 feature film, The Baby-Sitters Club (opposite Rachael Leigh Cook and Schuyler Fisk), appeared in several episodes of Boy Meets World, wrote an advice column for Tiger Beat magazine,[4] and was involved in Nickelodeon's Big Help charity, Hands Across Communication, Surfrider Foundation and the Starlight Foundation.[4] 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.[9] Oleynik also played as Tommy's recurring girlfriend Alissa Strudwick in multiple episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun.

After The Secret World of Alex Mack ended its run, Oleynik had a starring role in the film 10 Things I Hate About You, a teen comedy also starring Julia Stiles, Andrew Keegan, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The film was released in April 1999 and did fairly well at the box office, grossing a total of $38 million domestically.[10] In 1999–2000, Oleynik appeared in fourteen episodes of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun (alongside Gordon-Levitt). The same year, she 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. She has appeared in Malcolm in the Middle as Reese's lesbian army buddy, who developed a crush on his mom, Lois. Next, Oleynik had a supporting role in the film An American Rhapsody, which received a limited release in August 2001, and appeared in Bringing Rain, a low-budget film.

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. In March 2008, Oleynik guest-starred in episode 13 of Aliens in America. Coincidentally, Aliens in America also starred Lindsey Shaw, who would go on to play Julia Stiles' role in the TV version of 10 Things I Hate About You. Meanwhile, Meaghan Jette Martin, would play Oleynik's role as Shaw's sister on the TV series.


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Susie 1 episode - "Heroes"
River Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene Gail Keene TV movie
1994 The Secret World of Alex Mack Alex Mack 72 episodes (1994-1998)
1995 The Adventures of Pete & Pete Nurse 1 episode - "Dance Fever"
The Baby-Sitters Club Dawn Schafer
1996 Boy Meets World Dana Pruitt 2 episodes - "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter"; "Stormy Weather"
1998 1 episode - "First Girlfriends' Club"
3rd Rock from the Sun Alissa Strudwick 21 episodes (1998-2000)
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Bianca Stratford
2000 A Time for Dancing Juliana Michaels
100 Girls Wendy
2001 An American Rhapsody Maria - at 18
2003 Bringing Rain Ori Swords
2005 Malcolm in the Middle Staff Sergeant Abby Tucker 1 episode - "Army Buddy"
2006 Pope Dreams Maggie Venable
Pepper Dennis Brianna 2 episodes - "Pilot"; "Curtis Wilson's a Total Nut Job: Film at Eleven"
2007 Relative Obscurity Claire
2008 Aliens in America Zoe 1 episode - "Community Theater"
Broken Windows Sara
Together Again for the First Time Brenda Video
2009 I Have It Emily
Without a Trace Liza Miller 1 episode - "Voir Dire"
Psych Willow Gimbley 1 episode - "Let's Get Hairy"


  1. ^ "Larisa Online". Larisa Oleynik just wants to have fun. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b "Larisa Online". Her Typical Teen Aura: By Jefferson Graham. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  3. ^ "Larisa Oleynik Biography (1981-)". Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  4. ^ a b c "Larisa Online". PEOPLE Online Hosts Larisa Oleynik--May 29, 1997. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  5. ^ "Larisa Oline". LARISA OLEYNIK; NOVEMBER 13, 1998. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ "Girls' Life". CELEBRITYSPOTLIGHT LARISAOLEYNIK. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  8. ^ "Larisa Online". Big Mack Attack. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  9. ^ "Larisa Online". A World Of Her Own: By Vicki Jo Radovsky. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  10. ^ "The". 10 Things I Hate about You. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 

External links


Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Larisa Romanovna Oleynik (born June 7, 1981, in Santa Clara County, California) is an American actress.


  • Alex is cool because a lot of people can relate to her. She's not the most popular girl in school, but she's also not a geek. I know what it's like to think you don't always fit in, and I think kids can relate to Alex's feelings about being average.
  • If I spent too much time here in Los Angeles, I could probably get a little messed up. It's not real here, being on a set with only actors. I've worked with people who were totally cool, then once they got all the publicity and attention, it just went to their heads. If I did anything like that my friends would say, 'What's up with you? That really doesn't fly here.' I'm lucky I have a really strong network of people I'm close to, so I try to keep as grounded as possible by going home every weekend, where I'm just normal.
    • TV Guide, October 26, 1996

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