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Mia Kirshner

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Mia Kirshner
Kirshner at the 2012 San Diego Comic-Con
Born (1975-01-25) January 25, 1975 (age 49)
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
  • Actress
  • activist
  • writer
Years active1989–present
PartnerSam Shepard (2014–15)

Mia Kirshner (born January 25, 1975)[1] is a Canadian actress, writer, and social activist. She is known for television roles as Mandy in 24 (2001–2005), as Jenny Schecter in The L Word (2004–2009), as Amanda Grayson in Star Trek: Discovery (2017–2019) and Star Trek: Strange New Worlds (2023), and as Isobel Flemming in The Vampire Diaries (2010-2011). Her film credits include Love and Human Remains (1993), Exotica (1994), The Crow: City of Angels (1996), Mad City (1997), Not Another Teen Movie (2001), and The Black Dahlia (2006).

Early life[edit]

Kirshner was born in Toronto, Ontario, the daughter of Etti (Henrietta),[2] a teacher, and Sheldon Kirshner, a journalist who wrote for The Canadian Jewish News.[3][4] Kirshner is a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors;[5] her father was born in the displaced persons camp at Bad Reichenhall in Germany in 1946 and met Kirshner's mother, a Bulgarian Jewish refugee, after they emigrated to Israel.[6][5] Kirshner's paternal grandparents were Polish Jews.[7][8] Kirshner had a middle class upbringing[9] and attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute but later graduated from Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Kirshner studied Russian literature and the 20th-century movie industry at McGill University in Montreal. Her younger sister, Lauren Kirshner, a writer, was involved in the I Live Here project.[10]


Kirshner in 2009

Kirshner started her career in 1989 in "Loving the Alien", a second-season episode of War of the Worlds, as both Jo, a young resistance fighter who is captured and duplicated by the enemy aliens, and her doppelgänger. Kirshner made her film debut in 1993 at the age of 18 in Denys Arcand's Love and Human Remains. She convinced her father to sign a "nudity waiver" to play a dominatrix.[11] The following year, she starred in Atom Egoyan's Exotica. In 1996, she appeared in The Crow: City of Angels. She also played Kitty Scherbatsky in the 1997 version of Anna Karenina.

Kirshner also appeared in the first three episodes of 24 as the assassin Mandy in 2001. She would later reprise the role for the second season's finale and in the latter half of the show's fourth season.[12] Also in 2001, Kirshner played Catherine Wyler, "The Cruelest Girl in School", in Not Another Teen Movie. The character is primarily a spoof of Kathryn Merteuil (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) in Cruel Intentions, and was partially based on Mackenzie Siler (played by Anna Paquin) from She's All That. In Marilyn Manson's music video for "Tainted Love", which was featured on the movie's soundtrack, she made a cameo appearance as her character Catherine Wyler.

In 2004, Kirshner was cast as writer Jenny Schecter, a main character in the drama series The L Word. She remained with the show through 2009, for all six seasons.[13]

In 2006, she starred in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia in which she plays the young aspiring actress Elizabeth Short, whose mutilation and murder in 1947 remains unsolved. While the film itself was critically panned, many reviews singled out her performance for acclaim.[14][15][16][17] Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com, in a largely negative review, notes that the eponymous character was "played wonderfully by Mia Kirshner..."[14] Mick LaSalle wrote that Kirshner "makes a real impression of the Dahlia as a sad, lonely dreamer, a pathetic figure."[15] J. R. Jones described her performance as "haunting" and that the film's fictional screen tests "deliver the emotional darkness so lacking in the rest of the movie."[16] In 2010, Kirshner co-starred in the film 30 Days of Night: Dark Days which began filming in the fall of 2009.[18] In 2010, she was cast as Isobel Flemming, a guest role on The Vampire Diaries.[13]

In 2011, she voiced the title character in Bear 71, a National Film Board of Canada web documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.[19][20]

On April 20, 2012, it was announced that Kirshner would join the new Syfy series Defiance.[21]

On October 9, 2013, it was mentioned on the Showcase blog that Kirshner would be one of several guest stars in season four of the television series Lost Girl.[22]

From 2017 to 2019, she played the recurring role of Amanda Grayson, mother of Spock and stepmother of series protagonist Michael Burnham on Star Trek: Discovery (a role originated by Jane Wyatt on the original Star Trek). She later reprised the role in an episode of Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

On September 5, 2019, Entertainment Tonight's news outlet ET Online reported that Kirshner would play a character in Lifetime's film The College Admissions Scandal with co-star Penelope Ann Miller in roles inspired by real-life actresses Lori Loughlin's and Felicity Huffman's involvement in a massive college admissions bribery scam. Describing her role, Kirshner was quoted saying "This story is about privilege and corruption and it's about people who don't follow the rules because they think they're above rules... My character [based on Loughlin but named "Bethany" in the film] is so corrupt, greedy, narcissistic, self-centered, and the dialogue is hilarious, so I'm glad that they're able to capture humor about this as well."[23]

In September 2020, it was announced that Kirshner would co-star with Ben Savage in a Hallmark Channel holiday film entitled Love, Lights, Hanukkah!, which premiered on December 12, 2020. Kirshner plays a restaurant owner named Christina, who learns of her Jewish ancestry through a DNA test.[24]


In October 2008, after seven years in production,[25] Kirshner published the book I Live Here,[26] which she co-produced with ex-Adbusters staffers Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons,[27] as well as writer James MacKinnon. In the book, four different groups of women and children refugees from places such as Chechnya, Juárez, Burma and Malawi tell their life stories. The book features original material from well-known comic and graphic artists including Joe Sacco and Phoebe Gloeckner. It was published in the U.S. by Random House/Pantheon. It was supported logistically by Amnesty International, which will receive proceeds from the book. After the release of the book, the Center for International Studies at MIT invited Kirshner to run a 4-week course on I Live Here in January 2009.[28]

In popular culture[edit]

Kirshner was ranked #43 on the Maxim Hot 100 Women of 2002.[29] She and Beverly Polcyn were nominated for Best Kiss at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards for Not Another Teen Movie.[30] In 2011 it was announced that Kirshner would be the face of Monica Rich Kosann's jewelry collection.[31]

Personal life[edit]

Between 2014 and 2015, Kirshner was in a relationship with actor and playwright Sam Shepard.[32][33]



Year Title Role Notes
1993 Love and Human Remains Benita
1993 Cadillac Girls Page
1994 Exotica Christina
1995 Murder in the First Rosetta Young
1995 The Grass Harp Maude Riordan
1996 The Crow: City of Angels Sarah Mohr
1997 Anna Karenina Kitty
1997 Mad City Laurie Callahan
1999 Speed of Life Sarah
1999 Out of the Cold Deborah Berkowitz
2000 Innocents Dominique Denright
2000 Cowboys and Angels Candice
2001 Century Hotel Dominique
2001 According to Spencer Melora
2001 Not Another Teen Movie Catherine Wyler
2002 New Best Friend Alicia Campbell
2002 Now & Forever Angela Wilson
2003 Party Monster Natasha Gatien
2005 The Iris Effect Rebecca
2006 The Black Dahlia Elizabeth Short
2008 Miss Conception Clem
2010 30 Days of Night: Dark Days Lilith Direct-to-video film
2011 388 Arletta Avenue Amy Walker
2012 The Barrens Cynthia Vineyard
2013 I Think I Do Julia
2016 Milton's Secret Jane Adams
2017 A Swinger's Weekend Fiona
2021 Crisis Susan Reimann


Year Title Role Notes
1989 War of the Worlds Jo Crane Episode: "Loving the Alien"
1990 Danger Bay Catherine Walker Episode: "Live Wires"
1990–1991 Dracula: The Series Sophie Metternich Main role
1991 E.N.G. Risa Timerman Episode: "Suffer the Little Children"
My Secret Identity Alana Porter Episode: "My Other Secret Identity"
1991–1992 Tropical Heat Cathy Paige / Sandy 2 episodes
1992 Road to Avonlea Emily Everett-Smythe Episode: "High Society"
Are You Afraid of the Dark? Pam / Dora Pease Episode: "The Tale of the Hungry Hounds"
1995 Johnny's Girl Amy Ross Television film
2001–2002 Wolf Lake Ruby Cates Main role
2001–2005 24 Mandy Recurring role
2004–2009 The L Word Jenny Schecter Main role
2007 They Come Back Faith Hardy Television film
2009 The Cleaner April May Episode: "Does Everybody Have a Drink?"
CSI: NY Deborah Carter Episode: "Dead Reckoning"
2010–2011 The Vampire Diaries Isobel Flemming Recurring role (seasons 1–2)
2012 Kiss at Pine Lake Zoe McDowell Television film
2013 The Surrogacy Trap Christy Bennett
Graceland Ashika Pearl Episode: "Pizza Box"
Lost Girl Clio Episodes: "In Memoriam", "Sleeping Beauty School", "Lovers. Apart."
2013–2014 Defiance Kenya Rosewater Main role
2015 Bloodline Sarah Rayburn 3 episodes
Reluctant Witness Erin Villenueve Television film
2016 Real Detective Detective Mannina Episode: "No One Is Safe"
2017–2019 Star Trek: Discovery Amanda Grayson Recurring role
2019 The College Admissions Scandal Bethany Slade Television film
2020 Love, Lights, Hanukkah! Christina Television film[34]
2023 Star Trek: Strange New Worlds Amanda Grayson Episode: "Charades"

Video games[edit]


  1. ^ Rose, Mike (January 25, 2023). "Today's famous birthdays list for January 25, 2023 includes celebrity Alicia Keys". Cleveland.com. Archived from the original on January 25, 2023. Retrieved January 25, 2023.
  2. ^ Family tree Archived April 14, 2022, at the Wayback Machine
  3. ^ "Mia Kirshner surprised by character in 'Mad City' film". News Tribune. November 15, 1997. Archived from the original on May 14, 2011. Retrieved December 12, 2007.
  4. ^ "Defiant actor has impressive goals - The Canadian Jewish News". June 3, 2013. Archived from the original on October 12, 2023. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  5. ^ a b "Mia Kirshner basks in an erotic mystery". Thelwordonline.com. April 5, 2004. Archived from the original on April 9, 2019. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  6. ^ "A Sentimental Journey To Bad Reichenhall". Sheldon Kirshner. July 15, 2016. Archived from the original on April 6, 2019. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  7. ^ "Film Rap: Mia Kirshner – I Live Here". The Warren Report. November 26, 2008. Archived from the original on October 8, 2011. Retrieved July 25, 2011.
  8. ^ Kirshner, Sheldon (August 19, 2009). "Buildings in the former Lodz Ghetto still stand". Canadian Jewish News. Archived from the original on October 12, 2023. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  9. ^ Aurthur, Kate (October 19, 2008). "Mia Kirshner backs up her commitment". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on October 22, 2008. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  10. ^ "Give yourself permission to write". the Varsity (University of Toronto). September 24, 2009. Archived from the original on December 28, 2009. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  11. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (March 16, 2009). "Mia Kirshner Documents A Different 'L' Word: Living". Baltimore Jewish Times. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  12. ^ "Mia Kirshner". IMDb. Archived from the original on September 22, 2023. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  13. ^ a b Ausiello, Michael (December 21, 2009). "Exclusive: 'Vampire Diaries' lures 'L Word' babe Mia Kirshner". Entertainment Weekly. Archived from the original on October 1, 2010. Retrieved May 18, 2010.
  14. ^ a b Stephanie Zacharek (September 15, 2006). "The Black Dahlia". Salon.com. Archived from the original on June 22, 2021. Retrieved March 23, 2021.
  15. ^ a b Mick LaSalle (September 15, 2006). "'Black Dahlia' may look good, but it's noir lite". San Francisco Chronicle. Archived from the original on February 4, 2023. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  16. ^ a b J. R. Jones (August 29, 2006). "The Black Dahlia". Chicago Reader. Archived from the original on April 10, 2013. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  17. ^ Timothy Brayton (September 18, 2007). "In This Corner: The Most Notorious Unsolved Murder In California History". Antagony & Ecstasy. Archived from the original on November 5, 2006. Retrieved August 29, 2011.
  18. ^ "BD's Got Your '30 Days of Night: Dark Days' Casting!". Bloody-disgusting.com. October 19, 2009. Archived from the original on August 9, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  19. ^ Monk, Katherine. "Sundance: Interactive film, Bear 71, blurs lines between wild and wired". canada.com. Postmedia News. Archived from the original on January 26, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  20. ^ Makarechi, Kia (January 24, 2012). "'Bear 71': Interactive Film At Sundance Tells Dark Side Of Human Interaction With Wildlife". Huffington Post. Archived from the original on January 25, 2012. Retrieved January 25, 2012.
  21. ^ Nellie Andreeva (April 20, 2012). "Mia Kirshner And Fionnula Flanagan Join Syfy Series 'Defiance'". Deadline. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  22. ^ "Showcase". Archived from the original on January 18, 2014. Retrieved April 22, 2015.
  23. ^ "Felicity Huffman & Lori Loughlin-Inspired 'College Admissions Scandal' Movie Gets First Trailer (Exclusive)". Archived from the original on November 24, 2020. Retrieved October 7, 2019.
  24. ^ "Hallmark Unveils 2020 'Countdown to Christmas' Slate, Including Gay Adoption Movie, Hanukkah Celebration". September 23, 2020. Archived from the original on October 6, 2022. Retrieved September 28, 2020.
  25. ^ "Tavis Smiley Show". Tavis Smiley Show – Mia Kirshner. December 16, 2008. Archived from the original on December 21, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  26. ^ "I Live Here Foundation". I-live-here.com. Archived from the original on August 26, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  27. ^ "The Goggles". The Goggles. Archived from the original on July 6, 2010. Retrieved August 19, 2010.
  28. ^ "MIT CIS: IAP 2009, I Live Here, Mia Kirshner". IAP COURSE: I Live Here—A Human Rights Multimedia Project. Archived from the original on August 24, 2016. Retrieved December 31, 2009.
  29. ^ "FreeJose.com". Maxim Magazine Hot 100 Women of 2002. Archived from the original on February 23, 2007. Retrieved April 19, 2007.
  30. ^ "About.com". Best Kiss nomination, 2002 MTV Movie Awards. Archived from the original on December 14, 2007. Retrieved June 1, 2007.
  31. ^ "Mia Kirshner: the new face of Monica Rich Kosann". PRWeb. Archived from the original on April 14, 2022. Retrieved September 24, 2019.
  32. ^ Sam Shepard and girlfriend Mia Kirshner shopping in Soho Archived April 15, 2023, at the Wayback Machine rexfeatures.com, 23 November 2014
  33. ^ "Sam Shepard with girlfriend Mia Kirshner out and about, New York" Archived April 15, 2023, at the Wayback Machine rexfeatures.com, 30 March 2015
  34. ^ "Hallmark's 'Countdown to Christmas' Schedule Includes Gay Adoption Movie, Hanukkah Celebration and More". September 23, 2020. Archived from the original on October 6, 2022. Retrieved September 29, 2020.

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