Larisa Oleynik

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Larisa Oleynik
Born Larisa Romanovna Oleynik
(1981-06-07) June 7, 1981 (age 34)
Santa Clara County, California, United States
Occupation Actress
Years active 1993–present

Larisa Romanovna Oleynik (/ləˈrɪsə ɵˈlnɨk/; born June 7, 1981) is an American actress. She is best known for starring in the title role of the children's television series The Secret World of Alex Mack during the mid-1990s. She has also appeared in theatrical films, including The Baby-Sitters Club and 10 Things I Hate About You. During her period as a teen idol, she was described as "one of America's favorite 15-year-olds",[1] and "the proverbial girl next door".[2][3]

Early life and education[edit]

Oleynik was born in Santa Clara County, California. Her mother Lorraine (née Allen) is a former nurse, and her late father Roman Oleynik (1936–2003) was an anesthesiologist.[4] Her father was of Ukrainian, Russian, Czech and Slovak ancestry,[5][6] and she was raised in the Christian Orthodox religion.[7] Oleynik grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. She attended Pinewood School in Los Altos, California. As her acting career flourished, she would "divide her time between normal childhood experiences in Northern California and auditions in Los Angeles."[8]

After the success in her role as Alex Mack, Oleynik decided to attend college.[9] and later Sarah Lawrence College, describing the latter as "the best decision I’ve made".[10]


Oleynik began acting in a San Francisco production of Les Misérables in 1989 after seeing an audition ad in a newspaper when she was eight years old. She obtained two parts in the production (young Cossette and young Eponine), both with singing roles. After appearing in the musical, she contacted an agent and began taking acting lessons. Her onscreen acting career began at age 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 in 1996 made a cameo on The Adventures of Pete & Pete as a nurse at the beginning of the episode "Dance Fever".[11] Later in 1993, she was subsequently cast in the lead role of the series The Secret World of Alex Mack where she portrayed a teenage girl who receives telekinetic powers as the result of an accident. She won the role of Alex Mack over 400 other aspirants. The series ran on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1998 and was one of the network's top three most watched shows,[2] becoming quite a favorite among the child and teen audiences and turning Oleynik into a teen idol. During the show's heyday, children who met Oleynik (and were too young to understand special effects) would often ask her to "morph" for them. Rather than try to explain things, she would quickly glance around, then tell them "Not here – everybody would see!". Oleynik reprised the role in an All That sketch, although the name was changed to "Alex Sax". Oleynik later appeared in the 100th episode of All That.

Also during her time on The Secret World of Alex Mack, 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,[6] and was involved in Nickelodeon's The Big Help charity, Hands Across Communication, Surfrider Foundation and the Starlight Children's Foundation.[6] She has also hosted the CableACE Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, YTV Achievement Awards, The Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards as well as The Big Help. 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.[12]

After The Secret World of Alex Mack ended its run, Oleynik had a starring role in the film 10 Things I Hate About You as Bianca. The film was released in April 1999 and did fairly well at the box office, grossing a total of $38 million domestically.[13] From 1998–2000, Oleynik appeared in twenty one episodes of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun as Alissa Strudwick. During 2000, she also 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 Wilkerson's lesbian army buddy who develops a crush on Lois Wilkerson.

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. In 2009, she provided audio commentary for the 10 Things I Hate About You 10th Anniversary Edition Blu-ray. In March 2011, Oleynik started appearing in a recurring role on Hawaii Five-0 as CIA analyst Jenna Kaye until her character gets later killed off.[14] Oleynik appears as Ken Cosgrove's girlfriend (and later wife) Cynthia Baxter in several episodes on the AMC television show Mad Men.

Personal life[edit]

From 1999 to 2002, Larisa is also said to have dated her 10 Things I Hate About You and 3rd Rock from the Sun co-star Joseph Gordon-Levitt.

In January 2013, according to TMZ, Oleynik was granted a restraining order against one of her fans, who she claims was so obsessed he changed his last name to hers, as well as leaving gifts for her at her mother's apartment.[15]

She resides in Venice, California.[8]



Year Title Role Notes
1995 Baby-Sitters Club, TheThe Baby-Sitters Club Dawn Schafer
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Bianca Stratford
2000 100 Girls Wendy
2001 American Rhapsody, AnAn American Rhapsody Maria Sandor at 18
2002 Time for Dancing, AA Time for Dancing Jules Michaels
2003 Bringing Rain Ori Swords
2006 Pope Dreams Maggie Venable
2007 Relative Obscurity Claire
2008 Broken Windows Sara
2008 Together Again for the First Time Brenda Video
2009 I Have It Emily Short film
2011 Inconvenient Interviews with Risa Interviewee Video short
2012 Born Yesterday Elyse Short film
2012 Atlas Shrugged: Part II Cherryl Brooks
2013 OJ: The Musical Regina
2014 BFFs Chloe
2014 Jessabelle Sam
2014 Mamet Women, TheThe Mamet Women Polly Short film
2014 Horrible Parents Jill Short film


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Susie Episode: "Heroes"
1993 River of Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene Gail Keene TV movie
1994–1998 Secret World of Alex Mack, TheThe Secret World of Alex Mack Alex Mack Main role (79 episodes)
1996 Adventures of Pete & Pete, TheThe Adventures of Pete & Pete Nurse Episode: "Dance Fever"
1996 Boy Meets World Dana Pruitt Episodes: "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", "Stormy Weather"
1998 Boy Meets World Dana Pruitt Episode: "First Girlfriends' Club"
1998–2000 3rd Rock from the Sun Alissa Strudwick Recurring role (21 episodes)
2005 Malcolm in the Middle Abby Episode: "Army Buddy"
2006 Katie Sullivan Katie Sullivan Pilot
2006 Pepper Dennis Brianna Episodes: "Pilot", "Curtis Wilson's a Total Nut Job: Film at Eleven"
2008 Aliens in America Zoe Episode: "Community Theater"
2009 Without a Trace Liza Miller Episode: "Voir Dire"
2009 Psych Willow Gimbley Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"
2010 Backyard Wedding Renee Movie
2010–2015 Mad Men Cynthia Cosgrove Recurring role (5 episodes)
2011–2012 Winx Club: Enchantix Icy / Various other voices 28 episodes
2011–2014 Hawaii Five-O Jenna Kaye Recurring role (7 episodes)
2012 Mike & Molly Allison Episode: "The Dress"
2012 Fairly Legal Officer Glacki Episode: "What They Seem"
2012–2013 Winx Club: Beyond Believix Icy / Various other voices 24 episodes
2012–present Pretty Little Liars Maggie Cutler Recurring role (7 episodes)
2013 Remember Sunday Lauren Movie
2013 Ghost Ghirls Megan Episode: "Will You Scary Me?"
2013 Winx Club Icy (voice) Seasons 3–5
2013 American Dad (voice) Episode: "Steve and Snot's Test-Tubular Adventure"
2014 Robot Chicken Alex Mack (voice) Episode: "Rebel Appliance"
2014 Stolen from the Womb Diane King Movie
2014 Extant Phillips Episode: "Ascension"
2014 Michaels, TheThe Michaels Katherine Bixby Movie


  1. ^ "Larisa Oleynik just wants to have fun". originally reprinted online at Archived from the original on 2007-02-27. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  2. ^ a b Graham, Jefferson (4 August 1995). "Her Typical Teen Aura". USA Today. originally reprinted online at Archived from the original on 2005-03-11. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  3. ^ Spelling, Ian (25 May 1999). "Rockin' Role". Sun Sentinel. Chicago Tribune. Retrieved 2010-11-09. 
  4. ^ "Larisa Oleynik Biography (1981-)". Retrieved 2010-03-08. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c "PEOPLE Online Hosts Larisa Oleynik". originally reprinted online at 29 May 1997. Archived from the original on 2002-03-23. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  7. ^ "Larisa Online". 13 November 1998. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  8. ^ a b "The Michaels". PixL TV. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 
  9. ^ Larisa Oleynik Celebrity Interview for Bringing Rain (2003) at The Movie Insider
  10. ^ Davis, Jasmen. "Celebrity Spotlight: Larisa Oleynik". Girls' Life Magazine. Archived from the original on 2006-04-24. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  11. ^ Maitland, Judith. "Big Mack Attack". originally reprinted online at Archived from the original on 2005-03-11. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  12. ^ Radovsky, Vicki Jo (October 1996). "A World Of Her Own". TV Guide. originally reprinted online at Archived from the original on 2005-03-11. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  13. ^ "The". 10 Things I Hate about You. Archived from the original on 2006-05-08. Retrieved April 14, 2006. 
  14. ^ "Hawaii Five-0 Adds Cast Member". Retrieved January 20, 2011. 
  15. ^ Raftery, Liz (4 February 2013). "Alex Mack Star Larisa Oleynik Gets Restraining Order Against Stalker". TV Guide. Retrieved 12 February 2015. 

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