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Alicia Witt

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Alicia Witt
Witt in 2014
Alicia Roanne Witt

(1975-08-21) August 21, 1975 (age 48)
  • Actress
  • singer
  • pianist
Years active1984–present

Alicia Roanne Witt (born August 21, 1975) is an American actress, singer and pianist. She first came to fame as a child actress after being discovered by David Lynch, who cast her in Dune (1984) and Twin Peaks (1990). Witt was a regular on Cybill Shepherd's sitcom Cybill (1995–1998) for four seasons, playing the title character's daughter, Zoe Woodbine. She had a critically acclaimed role as a disturbed teenager in Fun (1994), appeared as a music student in Mr. Holland's Opus (1995) and as a terrorized college student in the horror film Urban Legend (1998). She appeared in Vanilla Sky (2001), Two Weeks Notice (2002), Last Holiday (2006), and 88 Minutes (2007). Witt has made television appearances in The Walking Dead, The Sopranos, Nashville, Two and a Half Men, The Librarians, Friday Night Lights, Law & Order: Criminal Intent, The Mentalist, Justified, Twin Peaks: The Return, CSI: Miami, Supernatural, and Orange Is the New Black.

In addition to her acting, Witt is an accomplished pianist, singer, and songwriter. She has starred in nine annual Hallmark Christmas films, the first broadcast in 2013. In her most recent film, Christmas Tree Lane (2020), she was also executive producer and storywriter, and contributed two original songs which her character sings.

Early life and education[edit]

Witt was born on August 21, 1975[1] in Worcester, Massachusetts, to Diane (née Pietro), a junior high school reading teacher, and Robert Witt, a science teacher and photographer. Her mother was an American and Guinness World Record holder for the longest hair[2] from 1989 to 1996.[citation needed] Witt has a brother, Ian.[3][4] Talking by age two and reading by the age of four,[1] she has been described as a child prodigy.[5] Her acting talent was recognized by director David Lynch in 1980, when he heard her recite Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet on the television show That's Incredible! at age five. Lynch began working with her in film and television before Witt earned her high-school equivalency credential at age 14. From the ages of 10 to 14, she took four piano lessons a week, including from a Boston University professor,[1] and competed nationally.[6]


Film and television[edit]

Witt's discovery by Lynch led to his casting of the "flame-haired" child in Dune (1984), as Paul Atreides's sister Alia; she turned eight during filming.[7] She worked with Lynch again when she appeared in an episode of Twin Peaks,[1] playing the younger sister of Lara Flynn Boyle's character Donna.

Her acting background led to small parts in Mike Figgis' Liebestraum in 1991 (her brother Ian also appears), the Gen-X drama Bodies, Rest & Motion (1993), and the television film The Disappearance of Vonnie (1994). In 1994, Witt landed her first lead role in a film, playing a disturbed, murderous teenager in Fun and receiving the Special Jury Recognition Award at the Sundance Film Festival. Witt was then cast in Four Rooms[1] as Madonna's daughter in the episode "The Missing Ingredient".

Witt was introduced to a larger audience in the role of Cybill Shepherd's daughter, Zoey Woodbine, in the sitcom Cybill. While playing that part from 1995 to 1998, she also had film roles in Stephen Herek's Mr. Holland's Opus,[8] Alexander Payne's Citizen Ruth,[1] Robert Allan Ackerman's Passion's Way (based on the Edith Wharton novel, The Reef) and Richard Sears' comedy Bongwater. After Cybill was cancelled, Witt went on to leading roles in Jamie Blanks' horror film Urban Legend (1998),[1][8] and in Kevin Altieri/Touchstone Pictures' limited-release animated feature Gen13.

In 2000, Witt had starring roles on episodes of the television shows Ally McBeal and The Sopranos, the lead role in the Matthew Huffman comedy Playing Mona Lisa and a part in John Waters' Cecil B. Demented.[1]

Next, she acted in a small part in Cameron Crowe's Vanilla Sky (2001). Witt played "Two", the college graduate discussing loss of her virginity, in Rodrigo García's Ten Tiny Love Stories and played the role of promiscuous Barbie, half-sister of the title character, in American Girl. Witt also appeared in Marc Lawrence's romantic comedy Two Weeks Notice (2002).

In 2003–04, she lived in the United Kingdom (during this time she portrayed Joan Allen's daughter in the U.S.-based comic drama The Upside of Anger). Between the two projects, Witt went to South Africa to shoot a film interpretation of the epic poem "Das Nibelungenlied", played one of the central characters, Kriemhild, in the German television film Kingdom in Twilight. Kingdom in Twilight has the title Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King in the U.S. and The Ring of the Nibelungs and The Sword of Xanten elsewhere.[citation needed]

Witt filmed the Last Holiday (2006) and the thriller 88 Minutes (2007)[1] and joined the cast of Law & Order: Criminal Intent for the 2007–2008 season. In the latter she played Detective Nola Falacci, a character temporarily replacing Megan Wheeler as Detective Mike Logan's partner (who was away on maternity leave) and was a recurring character in the 2007–2008 season.[9] Witt appeared in the role of Amy in the film Peep World (2010).[1]

Witt appeared as the character Elaine Clayton in Cowgirls 'n Angels (2012),[1] and in 2013, co-starred in the independent film Cold Turkey (opposite Peter Bogdanovich and Cheryl Hines); therein, she additionally performed an original musical piece over the end credits. Her dramatic performance in this film was critically acclaimed,[10][11] with New York Magazine's David Edelstein proclaiming her turn one of the top performances of 2013.[12] She appeared in four Christmas films in 2013: the feature film Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, A Snow Globe Christmas for the Lifetime Channel and A Very Merry Mix-Up for the Hallmark Channel and in 2014, the Hallmark Channel's Christmas at Cartwright's. Also in 2014, Witt appeared in a guest-starring role on the DirecTV series, Kingdom,[13] which aired that October.

In 2014, in the fifth season of the FX series Justified she played Wendy Crowe, the brightest member of a Floridian crime family that gets entangled in the show's events in Kentucky.[14] In April 2016, Witt appeared in two episodes of The Walking Dead;[15] the same month, it was announced that she would also be reprising her role as Gersten Hayward in the 2017 Twin Peaks series.[16] Witt filmed a guest-starring role on season 12 of Supernatural as Lily Sunder, a former enemy of Castiel's.[17] In 2019, she had a recurring role on the seventh season of Orange Is the New Black as Zelda.


Witt made her stage debut in 2001, at Los Angeles' historic Tiffany Theater, in Robbie Fox's musical The Gift, in which she played a high-priced, albeit disease-carrying, stripper.

While in residence in the UK in 2004, she starred as Evelyn in a stage production of Neil LaBute's The Shape of Things at the New Ambassadors Theatre.[18][19] In September 2006, Witt returned to the London stage at the Royal Court Theatre, in the critically well-received Piano/Forte, wherein she was "well-cast" in portraying the stammering, emotionally damaged pianist Abigail, sister to "unloved attention-seeker" Louise (Kelly Reilly).[20]

Witt performed alongside Amber Tamblyn in Neil LaBute's play, Reasons to Be Pretty, at the Geffen Playhouse, which ran until August 31, 2014.[21][22]


Witt performing in 2012

In addition to acting, Witt is a professional singer-songwriter and pianist,[23] and is reported to have been a musical prodigy.[5] She played piano at the restaurant at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in the early/mid 1990s.[6]

Responses to her 2006 stage portrayal of Abigail in Piano/Forte, which included scenes of piano-playing, noted her skill as an "outstanding pianist".[24]

In 2009, Witt released her self-titled extended play album,[25] followed by Live at Rockwood in 2012[26] and Revisionary History in 2015.[27][28] In 2013, Witt and Ben Folds performed a song they had co-written on the soundtrack for the independent film Cold Turkey. The Nashville Scene said of Revisionary History: "Witt's new album Revisionary History is a piano-pop gem that sounds by turns like 'Grey Seal'–era Elton John, an alt-universe Fiona Apple and a film-noir chanteuse notching her nights in cigarette burns on the fallboard."[29]

In 2016, Witt joined the cast of ABC's Nashville in a recurring capacity playing established country singer Autumn Chase. Witt performed several songs throughout season four.

In August 2018, Witt released a five-song EP album titled 15,000 Days (a reference to the length of time she had been alive when she recorded the album) working with producer Jacquire King.[30][31] She is currently finishing recording her new album, which she co-produced with Jordan Lehning and Bill Reynolds. Titled The Conduit, it was scheduled to be released in September (24th, most regions) of 2021.

In 2020, Witt released two new Christmas songs, as heard in her Hallmark Christmas film, Christmas Tree Lane. "Why Christmas" and "Christmas Will Never End" are performed on-screen by her character, music-store owner and songwriter Meg.[32][33]

In August 2023, Witt released the six-song EP, Witness.[8][34][35]

Other appearances[edit]

In September 1990, Witt competed on Wheel of Fortune.[36]

On June 14, 2004, Witt modeled what is believed to be the most expensive hat ever made, for Christie's auction house in London. The Chapeau d'Amour, designed by Louis Mariette, is valued at US$2.7 million and is encrusted in diamonds.[37][38]

On October 5, 2021, Witt released a book called Small Changes: A Rules-Free Guide to Add More Plant-Based Foods, Peace & Power to Your Life.

In 2023, Witt competed in season nine of The Masked Singer as "Dandelion". While having bested Dee Snider as "Doll" and Lou Diamond Phillips as "Mantis" (who was spared by Robin Thicke ringing the Ding Dong Keep It On Bell) on "WB Movie Night", she was eliminated in "Masked Singer in Space" alongside Melissa Joan Hart as "Lamp".[39]

Personal life[edit]

On December 20, 2021, Witt's parents were found dead in their Worcester home.[2][40] The cause was revealed on February 24, 2022, as "probable cardiac dysrhythmia" due to the cold of their neglected and improperly heated home. In a Facebook post, Witt revealed that her parents were fiercely independent and refused help with home repairs.[41]

Witt battled breast cancer in 2021, and has been cancer-free since 2022 after undergoing chemotherapy and a mastectomy.[8][34] In light of her cancer diagnosis and treatment, Witt has quit drinking alcohol.[35]



Year Title Role Notes
1984 Dune Alia Atreides Credited as Alicia Roanne Witt
1991 Liebestraum Girl in Dream
1993 Bodies, Rest & Motion Elizabeth
1994 Fun Bonnie
1995 Four Rooms Kiva Segment: "The Missing Ingredient"
Mr. Holland's Opus Gertrude Lang
1996 Citizen Ruth Cheryl Stoney
1997 Bongwater Serena
1998 Urban Legend Natalie Simon
1999 The Reef Sophy Viner
2000 Playing Mona Lisa Claire Goldstein
Cecil B. Demented Cherish
Gen13 Caitlin Fairchild Voice, direct-to-video
2001 Vanilla Sky Libby
Ten Tiny Love Stories Two
2002 American Girl Barbie
Two Weeks Notice June Carver
2004 Girls' Lunch Short film
2005 The Upside of Anger Hadley Wolfmeyer
2006 Last Holiday Ms. Burns
2007 88 Minutes Kim Cummings
2010 The Pond Shelly Short film
Peep World Amy
2011 The Flight of the Swan Maria
Joint Body Michelle Page
2012 Cowgirls n' Angels Elaine Clayton
Bending the Rules Roslyn Wohl
I Do Mya Edwards
2013 Weiner Dog Nationals Melanie
A Madea Christmas Amber
2014 Away From Here Lily
2016 Six LA Love Stories Michelle
2017 The Bronx Bull Denise
2018 Mississippi Requiem Minnie
Spare Room Ginny
2020 I Care a Lot Dr. Karen Amos
Modern Persuasion Wren Cosgrove
2021 Fuzzy Head Mother
2022 Alice Rachel
2024 Longlegs TBA Post-production[42]


Year Title Role Notes
1990 Twin Peaks Gersten Hayward Episode #2.1
1993 Hotel Room Diane Episode: "Blackout"
1994 The Disappearance of Vonnie Janine Television film
1995–1998 Cybill Zoey Woodbine Main role
2000 Ally McBeal Hope Mercey 2 episodes
The Sopranos Amy Safir Episode: "D-Girl"
2003 The Twilight Zone Liz Episode: "The Executions of Grady Finch"
2004 Dark Kingdom: The Dragon King Kriemhild Television film
2007 Blue Smoke Reena Hale Television film
Law & Order: Criminal Intent Nola Falacci Main role (season 7)
2008 Wainy Days Laura Episode: "Shelly II"
Puppy Love Claire Series
Two and a Half Men Dolores Pasternak Episode: "A Jock Strap in Hell"
2009–2012 The Mentalist Rosalind Harker 3 episodes
2009–2011 Friday Night Lights Cheryl Recurring role (season 4)
2010 Edgar Floats Sandra Television film
Backyard Wedding Kim Tyler Television film
2011 CSI: Miami Michelle Baldwin Episode: "Blood Lust"
2012 Person of Interest Connie Wyler Episode: "The High Road"
2013 A Very Merry Mix-Up Alice Chapman Television film
A Snow Globe Christmas Meg Television film
2014 Kingdom Melanie Episode: "Flowers"
Justified Wendy Crowe Recurring role (season 5)
Christmas at Cartwright's Nicky Talbot Television film
The Librarians Lucinda McCabe / Morgan le Fay Episode: "And the Rule of Three"
2015 House of Lies Maya 2 episodes
Elementary Dana Powell Episode: "When Your Number's Up"
Don't Blink herself Episode: "Magic Money, Knife Tosses and Sonic Booms"
I'm Not Ready for Christmas Holly Nolan Television film
2016 The Walking Dead Paula 2 episodes
Motive Cindy Vernon 1 episode
Nashville Autumn Chase Recurring role (season 4); guest role (season 6)
Christmas List Isobel Gray Television film
2017 Supernatural Lily Sunder Episode: "Lily Sunder Has Some Regrets"
Twin Peaks Gersten Hayward[16] 2 episodes
The Exorcist Nikki Kim Recurring role
The Mistletoe Inn Kim Rossi Television film
2018 Disjointed Rosie Bush Episode: "Helium Dream"
Lore Marjorie Cameron Episode: "Jack Parsons: The Devil and the Divine"
Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane Emma Television film
2019 Orange Is the New Black Zelda Recurring role (season 7)
Our Christmas Love Song Melody Television film
2020 Christmas Tree Lane Meg Television film
2021–2022 Stargirl Maggie Shaw 2 episodes (1 episode uncredited)
2023 The Masked Singer Dandelion/Herself Season 9 contestant

Stage credits[edit]

Year Title Theatre
2001 The Gift Tiffany Theater, Los Angeles
2004 The Shape of Things New Ambassadors Theatre, London
2006 Piano/Forte Royal Court Theatre, London
2007 Dissonance Williamstown Theatre Festival
2014 Reasons to Be Pretty Geffen Playhouse, Los Angeles


Year Award Category Nominated work Result
1994 Sundance Film Festival[43] Special Jury Recognition for Acting (shared with Renee Humphrey) Fun Won
1995 Independent Spirit Awards Best Debut Performance Fun Nominated
Gijón International Film Festival Best Actress (shared with Renee Humphrey) Fun Won
1996 Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series (shared with Christine Baranski, Dedee Pfeiffer, Alan Rosenberg, Cybill Shepherd and Tom Wopat) Cybill Nominated
1999 Saturn Awards Best Young Actor/Actress Urban Legend Nominated
2000 The Comedy Festival Film Discovery Jury Award for Best Actor Playing Mona Lisa Won


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Marx, Rebecca Flint (2014). "Alicia Witt". Movies & TV Dept. The New York Times. Archived from the original on December 16, 2014.
  2. ^ a b Ring, Kim (December 21, 2021). "Well-being check finds actress Alicia Witt's parents deceased in their Worcester home". telegram.com. Retrieved December 22, 2021.
  3. ^ LaVallee, Wendy (September 17, 1980). "Little Girl's Big Intellect ..." Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
  4. ^ "Genius Waits to Grow Up". Record Journal. September 15, 1980.
  5. ^ a b Lumsden, Carolyn (March 1, 1987). "Child Prodigy, 11, Leaves 'Dune' in Dust". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 7, 2015.
  6. ^ a b Lawrence, Vanessa (July 28, 2008). "Alicia Witt's Pub Gig". Women's Wear Daily. Fairchild Publishing, LLC. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  7. ^ McArdle, Tommy (February 19, 2024). "Cybill Star Alicia Witt Shares Throwback Photo of Her at 7 in Original Dune Movie: 'Changed My Life'". Yahoo! Finance. Retrieved February 28, 2024.
  8. ^ a b c d Rosenbloom, Alli (August 27, 2023). "Alicia Witt releases new collection of music". CNN. Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  9. ^ "RT @CassieStackSVU". Twitter. March 12, 2012. Retrieved March 24, 2012.
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  11. ^ Edelstein, David (November 22, 2013). "Movie Review: Cold Turkey". Vulture. New York.
  12. ^ Edelstein, David (December 8, 2013). "David Edelstein's 10 Best Movies of 2013". Vulture.
  13. ^ Bricker, Tierney (July 18, 2014). "Kingdom Stages Friday Night Lights Reunion! Plus, Jamie Kennedy to Guest Star". E! Online. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  14. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (October 2013). "Alicia Witt & Edi Gathegi Join FX's 'Justified'". Deadline.
  15. ^ "Alicia Witt on playing the latest 'Walking Dead' villain and how her last scene was supposed to go". Entertainment Weekly's EW.com. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  16. ^ a b Rubin, Sam (November 6, 2015). "Did Alicia Witt Just Reveal She Will Star in the Upcoming 'Twin Peaks' Series?". KTLA 5.
  17. ^ "Alicia Witt Teases Her Supernatural Role — As an Old Foe of [Spoiler]'s". October 25, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2017.
  18. ^ Foley, Jack (2003). "The Shape of Things to keep its Witts about it". Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  19. ^ Inverne, James (March 11, 2004). "Alicia Witt to Star in London The Shape of Things". Playbill. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  20. ^ Fisher, Philip (2006). "Review:Piano/Forte". British Theatre Guide. Retrieved January 24, 2015.
  21. ^ Martinez, Julio (August 21, 2014). "LA Stage Insider: The Thing Is…". Arts In LA. Archived from the original on September 5, 2014. Retrieved January 26, 2015.
  22. ^ Gerard, Jeremy (June 27, 2014). "Amber Tamblyn To Star In 'Reasons To Be Afraid' At Geffen Playhouse". Deadline.
  23. ^ Jeffries, Wendy (1980). That's Incredible, Volume 4. Jove Publications. ISBN 978-0-515-05807-9.
  24. ^ Billington, Michael (September 21, 2006). "Piano/Forte". The Guardian.
  25. ^ ASIN B0032L1M8I , Alicia Witt (June 6, 2009)
  26. ^ ASIN B008A3N86W , Live At Rockwood (June 7, 2012)
  27. ^ Scott Simon (May 2, 2015). "Actor Alicia Witt Turns Musician With 'Revisionary History'". NPR.org. NPR.
  28. ^ ASIN B00SVYM276 , Revisionary History (April 7, 2015)
  29. ^ Ridley, Jim (May 28, 2015). "Essence of Witt". Nashville Scene.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ TV News Desk (June 1, 2018). "Accomplished Singer/Actress Alicia Witt Announces 15,000 DAYS, EP Set for August 24 Release". Broadway World. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  31. ^ Ross, Dalton (June 14, 2018). "Nashville star Alicia Witt debuts music video for 'Younger'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved June 16, 2018.
  32. ^ "Alicia Witt". Hallmark Channel.
  33. ^ "Alicia Witt". Parade. December 7, 2020.
  34. ^ a b Patterson, Charmaine (June 1, 2022). "Alicia Witt Reveals She Was Beginning Treatments for Cancer When Her Parents Died". People (magazine). Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  35. ^ a b Avila, Daniela (August 29, 2023). "Alicia Witt on Overcoming the 'Toughest Time' in Her Life and Why She Quit Drinking (Exclusive)". People (magazine). Retrieved August 29, 2023.
  36. ^ "Tanya Hart Heads for National Job on Coast". Worcester Telegram & Gazette. August 24, 1990. Alicia Witt, 14, of Worcester will take her chances during Wheel of Fortune's Teen Week beginning Sept 3.
  37. ^ "World's Most Expensive Hats". Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  38. ^ Kulpe, Yogesh (June 9, 2009). "Worlds most expensive hat- Chapeau d'Amour". The Rich Times. Retrieved February 7, 2015.
  39. ^ Schneider, Michael (April 12, 2023). "'The Masked Singer' Reveals Identities of the Lamp and Dandelion: Here's Who They Are". Variety. Retrieved May 20, 2024.
  40. ^ Andrea, Towers (December 22, 2021). "Parents of The Walking Dead and Dune actress Alicia Witt found dead in family home". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved December 23, 2021.
  41. ^ Kelly, Wynne (February 24, 2022). "Alicia Witt's Parents Cause of Death Revealed Two Months After Their Sudden Deaths". people.com. Retrieved September 16, 2023.
  42. ^ Grobar, Matt (March 6, 2023). "Alicia Witt & Blair Underwood Join Nicolas Cage, Maika Monroe In Longlegs Horror-Thriller". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 6, 2023.
  43. ^ Klady, Leonard (January 31, 1994). "Schussing over highs and lows of Sundance". Variety. Archived from the original on December 27, 2016.

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