Heather Donahue

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Heather Donahue
Born (1974-12-22) December 22, 1974 (age 46)
OccupationActress, writer
Years active1995–2008

Heather Donahue (born December 22, 1974) is an American writer, businesswoman, and retired actress. She is known for her roles as "Heather" in the 1999 sleeper hit film The Blair Witch Project and Mary Crawford in the miniseries Taken.

Early life and education[edit]

Donahue was born on December 22, 1974, in Upper Darby, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Joan, an office manager, and James Donahue, a printer.[1]

Donahue graduated from the University of the Arts (Philadelphia) in 1995 with a BFA in theater.

Acting career[edit]

Donahue is best known for her role in found-footage horror film The Blair Witch Project. In 1997, she read about an audition that was being advertised in Backstage magazine for actors with strong improvisational abilities, which was needed for an independent horror film. She auditioned at the Musical Theater Works in New York City and was cast as one of the three principal roles.[2][3] For the role, Donahue had to learn how to be able to operate a camera, spending two days in a "crash course". She said she modeled her character after a director she once worked with, citing the character's self-assuredness when everything went as planned, and confusion during crisis.[4] After filming, Donahue and the two other leads were asked not to appear on any television shows or in any films, as the filmmakers made great advertising efforts to perpetuate the events in the film as factual, including the distribution of flyers at festivals such as the Sundance Film Festival, asking viewers to come forward with any information about the "missing" students.[5][6][7] The IMDb page also listed the actors as "missing, presumed dead" in the first year of the film's availability.[7][8] The promotion for the film was so convincing that Donahue's mother received sympathy cards from people who believed that her daughter was actually dead or missing.[5]

Once released, the film received unexpected acclaim from critics and became a resounding box office success–grossing over US$248 million worldwide,[9] making it one of the most successful independent movies of all time. Despite the film's highly positive reception, Donahue's performance received a mixed reaction. While being nominated for a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Newcomer, and an Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress, she was also nominated for worst actress at the Stinkers Bad Movie Awards, and won in the same category at the Golden Raspberry Awards.[10]

Donahue later admitted there was a considerable amount of backlash against her because of her association with the film, which led to her having threatening encounters with people, and difficulty finding other employment.[5][11] A year after the release of the film, she appeared in the independent film Home Field Advantage, and alongside Freddie Prinze, Jr. and Jason Biggs in the romantic comedy Boys and Girls.

In 2001, she appeared in the independent film Seven and a Match and in the short film The Velvet Tigress.

In 2002, she had a starring role in science fiction miniseries Taken, for which she was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television. The same year, she appeared in an array of short films and televised films, such as The Walking Hack of Asbury Park, New Suit and The Big Time. Her last acting role was in the 2008 direct-to-DVD horror film The Morgue.

Life after acting[edit]

Donahue left acting in 2008 to become a medical marijuana grower.[12][13] In 2011, Donahue signed a publishing deal for her debut book Growgirl, about her time as a marijuana grower,[11][14] which was released on January 5, 2012 by Gotham Books, an imprint of Penguin Group USA.[13] In 2016, it was reported that Donahue was writing and producing The High Country, a sitcom based on her experiences in marijuana farming.[15]

As of 2013, she resides in Nevada City, California. At the time, she was also reported to be developing a line of herbal skin care products.[16]



Year Title Role Notes
1999 Curse of the Blair Witch Heather Donahue
The Blair Witch Project Golden Raspberry Award for Worst Actress
Nominated – Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Favorite Actress – Newcomer
Nominated – Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Actress
Sticks and Stones: An Exploration of the Blair Witch Legend
2000 The Massacre of The Burkittsville 7: The Blair Witch Legacy Archival footage only
Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2 Archival footage only
Home Field Advantage Wendy Waitress
Boys and Girls Megan
2002 The Walking Hack of Asbury Park Wendy Short film
New Suit Molly
The Big Time Heather Television film
2005 Manticore Cpl. Keats Television film
2008 The Morgue Nan
2016 Blair Witch Heather Donahue Archival footage only


Year Title Role Notes
2001 The Outer Limits Claire Linkwood Episode: "The Surrogate"
2002 Taken Mary Crawford 5 episodes
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress on Television
2003 Without a Trace Linda Schmidt Episode: "The Friendly Skies"
2005 It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia Stacy Corvelli Episode: "Charlie Wants an Abortion"


  1. ^ Femme Fatales, February 25, 2000, pp. 16-18, 21-22, 27, 28-29, 61.
  2. ^ Donahue, Heather. Interview with Craig Kilborn. CBS Networks. August 1999.
  3. ^ Staff (January 1, 1999). "Heather Donohue – Blair Witch Project". KAOS 2000 Magazine. Archived from the original on March 30, 2010. Retrieved July 30, 2006.
  4. ^ Lim, Dennis (July 14, 1999). "Heather Donahue Casts A Spell". The Village Voice. Archived from the original on December 4, 2007. Retrieved September 26, 2007.
  5. ^ a b c "IMDb: The Blair Witch Project".
  6. ^ "Editorial: The 12 Ballsiest Movie Publicity Stunts".
  7. ^ a b "The Blair Witch Project: The best viral marketing campaign of all time".
  8. ^ "The Blair Witch Project".
  9. ^ "The Blair Witch Project". Box Office Mojo.com. January 1, 2006. Retrieved July 28, 2006.
  10. ^ "1999 22nd Hastings Bad Cinema Society Stinkers Awards". Stinkers Bad Movie Awards. Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on January 3, 2007. Retrieved July 8, 2013.
  11. ^ a b Nudd, Tim (December 21, 2011). "Blair Witch Actress Heather Donahue Quit Acting to Grow Pot". People. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  12. ^ Borondy, Matt (April 18, 2013). "Interview: Heather Donahue, Author of Growgirl". archived. Archived from the original on January 5, 2017. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  13. ^ a b Stern, Marlow (January 6, 2012). "Growgirl: Heather Donahue's Journey From 'Blair Witch' to Growing Marijuana". The Daily Beast. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  14. ^ "'Blair Witch' Actress Heather Donahue Quit Acting For Pot". Huffington Post. December 21, 2012. Retrieved April 12, 2012.
  15. ^ Meslow, Scott (September 16, 2016). "The Blair Witch Project's Heather Donahue Is Alive and Well". GQ. Retrieved October 25, 2020.
  16. ^ Paz, Katrina. "Author, actress leads fearless life". The Union. Retrieved July 10, 2020.

External links[edit]