Julia Whelan

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Julia Whelan
Julia Whelan -- Middlebury Commencement Cropped.JPG
Julia Whelan receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree at the 2008 Middlebury College Commencement.
Julia May Whelan

(1984-05-08) May 8, 1984 (age 35)
Years active1996 – present
AwardsYoung Artist Award for Best Ensemble in a TV Series (drama or comedy)
2001 Once and Again

Julia May Whelan (born May 8, 1984) is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Grace Manning on the TV drama series Once and Again (1999-2002), and her co-starring role in the 2002 Lifetime Television movie, The Secret Life of Zoey. A noted child actor, Whelan first appeared on screen at the age of eleven, and continued to take television roles until her matriculation into Middlebury College in 2004; Whelan graduated magna cum laude from Middlebury in 2008 after spending the 2006-7 academic year as a visiting student at Lincoln College, Oxford.[1][2] Whelan returned to film acting in November 2008 with a role in the fantasy thriller Fading of the Cries.[3]

Early life[edit]

Julia May Whelan was born in Oregon on May 8, 1984. Her father was a firefighter and her mother a teacher. Whelan first acted in community theater at the age of five,[4] and yearly trips to the Oregon Shakespeare Festival in Ashland, Oregon deepened her interest in an acting career. At age ten she began acting lessons with actor/screenwriter Geof Prysirr.[5] Prysirr developed a close professional and personal relationship with Whelan, eventually becoming her guardian.[4] Prysirr began escorting Whelan on trips to Los Angeles, where she soon found professional success.

Whelan moved to L.A. with Prysirr and his wife, Days of Our Lives actress Derya Ruggles, where the three took up residence in a two bedroom apartment[4] so that Whelan could advance her career. Whelan quickly began to win television roles, first appearing on screen in an April 8, 1996 episode of the drama series Nowhere Man.

Early acting career[edit]

Whelan was first introduced to a broader audience in the 1998 TV movie Fifteen and Pregnant as the younger sister of Kirsten Dunst, who portrayed the movie's pregnant protagonist. In 1999 Whelan landed the role for which she is currently best known, playing insecure teenager Grace Manning on the family drama Once and Again. The show cast Sela Ward and Billy Campbell as single parents trying to nurture a romance and eventually build a blended family together.

Once and Again was noted for the quality of its cast,[6] particularly that of its younger cast members,[7] who were noted for the sensitivity of their performances;[6] the show featured them, giving them plot lines and screen time commensurate with those of the adult leads. Whelan, Meredith Deane, Shane West, and Evan Rachel Wood played the children of Ward and Campbell, respectively; Mischa Barton joined the show in its final season as Evan Rachel Wood's girlfriend. This lesbian storyline was dovetailed with an equally controversial plot involving Whelan's character in a doomed romance with her high school drama teacher "Mr. Dmitri", played by Eric Stoltz. Whelan, Deane, and Wood were recognized for their performances in April 2001,[8] winning that year's Young Artist Award for Best Ensemble in a TV Series (Drama or Comedy);[9] Whelan had been nominated on her own in March 2000[10] for Best Performance in a TV Drama Series - Supporting Young Actress.[11]

After Once and Again wrapped up its three-year run in 2002, Whelan moved on to other projects. She co-starred in the 2002 Lifetime Television movie, The Secret Life of Zoey, as a model student struggling with a prescription drug addiction. Notable cast included co-star Mia Farrow portraying her mother, and Andrew McCarthy as her rehab counselor. The movie was promoted alongside Lifetime TV rebroadcasts of Once and Again. Whelan continued to take television roles through 2004, when she enrolled in Middlebury College.

Whelan spent the 2006-7 academic year as a visiting student at Lincoln College, Oxford.[1][2] She returned to Middlebury for her senior year, graduating magna cum laude on May 25, 2008. Whelan earned highest departmental honors in English, and received the Henry B. Prickett English Prize for outstanding work in the English department.[citation needed]

Subsequent career[edit]

Whelan returned to film acting in November 2008, playing alongside Brad Dourif, Hallee Hirsh, Mackenzie Rosman and Thomas Ian Nicholas in the fantasy thriller Fading of the Cries. The heavily special-effects-laden Brian Metcalf feature was released in 2011. In 2018, Whelan won AudioFile's Best of Memoir [12]for her narration of Tara Westover's Educated.


Year Title Role Notes
1996 Nowhere Man Young Laura Episode: "Through a Lens Darkly"
Christmas Every Day Cousin Jacey Jackson Television movie
1998 Fifteen and Pregnant Rachel Spangler
Promised Land Mazie Andrus Episode: "On My Honor"
ER Laura Episode: "The Miracle Worker"
1999-2002 Once and Again Grace Manning Main Role
2002 The Secret Life of Zoey Zoey Carter Television movie
2004 Dr. Vegas Claire Episode: "Advantage Play"
Clubhouse Maggie Archer Episode: "Spectator Interference"
2011 Fading of the Cries Emily Television movie
NCIS: Los Angeles Karen Davis Episode: "Greed"
2012 The Confession Alyson Television movie
The Closer Natalie Gilbert Episode: "Hostile Witness"
Castle Tina Massey Episode: "Pandora"
2017 NCIS Greta Fensternacht Episode: "Pandora's Box (Part 1)"


Whelan has narrated many audiobooks, including Gillian Flynn's 2012 thriller Gone Girl. At the 2013 Audie Awards, Whelan won in the romance category for her narration of The Witness by Nora Roberts.[13] In 2018, Whelan won the AudioFile Best of Memoir for her narration of Tara Westover's Educated. Whelan also narrated the award winning 2018 novel "My Year of Rest and Relaxation" by Ottessa Moshfegh.


  1. ^ a b "Middlebury College Study Abroad United Kingdom and Ireland 2007-2008" (pdf). www.middlebury.edu. Retrieved 2008-07-15.[permanent dead link]
  2. ^ a b Whelan, Julia (2006-10-26). "Overseas Briefing - News". The Middlebury Campus. Archived from the original on 2009-08-15. Retrieved 2009-02-09. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  3. ^ "Julia Whelan IMDb". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2008-11-19.
  4. ^ a b c Hall, Carla (April 22, 2000). "Acting Her Age". TV Guide. Vol. 48 no. 17. pp. 42–44. Retrieved 2008-07-22.
  5. ^ "Julia Whelan in Once and Again on WCHS-TV8". www.wchstv.com. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-07-16. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ a b Roush, Matt (2001-04-21). "The Best Show You're Not Watching". TV Guide. Vol. 49 no. 16. pp. 16–23.
  7. ^ Rice, Lynette (2005-08-26). "Once and Again: The Complete Second Season - DVD Review". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 2008-07-16.
  8. ^ "IMDb: Young Artist Awards: 2001". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  9. ^ "22nd Annual Awards". www.youngartistawards.org. Archived from the original on 2014-09-28. Retrieved 2008-07-25. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  10. ^ "IMDb: Young Artist Awards: 2000". www.imdb.com. Retrieved 2008-07-15.
  11. ^ "21st Annual Awards". www.youngartistawards.org. Archived from the original on 2012-07-19. Retrieved 2008-07-22. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  12. ^ "AudioFile Magazine Spotlight on Narrator Julia Whelan". AudioFile Magazine. Retrieved 2019-01-03.
  13. ^ "2013 Audies Award Finalists and Winners". AudioFile. Retrieved 9 September 2017.

External links[edit]