Larisa Oleynik
Larisa Oleynik
Born Larisa Romanovna Oleynik
7 June 1981 (1981-Template:Pad2digit-Template:Pad2digit) (age 37)
Santa Clara County, California, U.S.
Occupation Actress
Years active 1993–present

Larisa Romanovna Oleynik (born June 7, 1981) is an American actress. She came to fame in the mid-1990s, after starring in the title role of the popular television series, The Secret World of Alex Mack, and has also appeared in theatrical films, including The Baby-Sitters Club (film) and 10 Things I Hate About You. Throughout the 2000s, she has mostly appeared in lower-budget films.

During her period as a teen idol, Oleynik was described as "one of America's favorite 15-year-olds" and "the proverbial girl next door".

Personal life

Oleynik was born in Santa Clara County, California, the only child of Lorraine (married and maiden names Allen), a former nurse, and Roman Oleynik, an anesthesiologist. Her father's family is Russia (although "Oliynyk" ("Oleynik") is a Ukraine|Ukrainian surname) and she was raised in the Russian Orthodox religion. Oleynik grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and began acting in a regional production of Les Misérables, after seeing an audition ad in a newspaper when she was eight years old. After appearing in the musical, she contacted an agent and began taking acting lessons. But despite the success in her role as Alex Mack, Oleynik decided to attend college. Oleynik attended Pinewood School, Los Altos and later Sarah Lawrence College, describing the latter as "the best decision I’ve made", and graduated in 2004.


Oleynik began her screen acting career 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 was subsequently cast in the lead role of the series The Secret World of Alex Mack, playing a teenage girl who receives telekinetic powers as the result of an accident. The series ran on Nickelodeon from 1994 to 1998 and was one of the network's top three most watched shows, becoming a favorite among teen audiences and turning Oleynik into a teen idol.

She made a cameo on The Adventures of Pete & Pete during this time, being a nurse at the beginning of the episode Dance Fever. Also, during The Secret World of Alex Mack's run, 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, and was involved in Nickelodeon's Big Help charity, Hands Across Communication, Surfrider Foundation and the Starlight Foundation. 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. Oleynik also played as Tommy Solomon (3rd Rock from the Sun)|Tommy's recurring girlfriend Alissa Strudwick in multiple episodes of 3rd Rock from the Sun.

After The Secret World of Alex Mack ended its run, Oleynik had a starring role in the film 10 Things I Hate About You, a teen comedy also starring Julia Stiles, Andrew Keegan, Heath Ledger and Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The film was released in April 1999 and did fairly well at the box office, grossing a total of $38 million domestically. In 1999–2000, Oleynik appeared in fourteen episodes of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun (alongside Gordon-Levitt). The same year, she 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 developed a crush on his mom, Lois Wilkerson. Next, 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. Coincidentally, Aliens in America also starred Lindsey Shaw, who would go on to play Julia Stiles' role in the TV version of 10 Things I Hate About You (TV series). Meanwhile, Meaghan Jette Martin, would play Oleynik's role as Shaw's sister on the TV series.


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman Susie Episode: "Heroes" 1 May 1993 (Season 1, Episode 13)
River Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene Gail Keene TV movie
1994 The Secret World of Alex Mack Alex Mack 1994-1998 (72 episodes)
1995 The Adventures of Pete & Pete Nurse Episode: "Dance Fever" Air Date TBA (Season 3, Episode 5)
The Baby-Sitters Club Dawn Schafer Movie
1996 Boy Meets World Dana Pruitt Episode:
First Girlfriends' Club 13 February 1998 (Season 5, Episode 15)

Stormy Weather 9 February 1996 (Season 3, Episode 16)
The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter 2 February 1996 (Season 3, Episode 15).

1998 3rd Rock from the Sun Alissa Strudwick 1998-2000 (21 episodes)
1999 "All That" Herself Episode: All That Live! 6 March 1999 (Season 5, Episode 8)
1999 10 Things I Hate About You Bianca Stratford Movie
2000 A Time for Dancing Juliana Michaels Movie
100 Girls Wendy Movie
2001 An American Rhapsody Maria - at 18 Movie
2003 Bringing Rain Ori Swords Movie
2005 Malcolm in the Middle Staff Sergeant Abby Tucker Episode: "Army Buddy" 2 December 2005 (Season 7, Episode 8)
2006 Pope Dreams Maggie Venable Movie
Pepper Dennis Brianna Episode: "Pilot" 4 April 2006 (Season 1, Episode 1)
Episode: "Curtis Wilson's a Total Nut Job: Film at Eleven" 17 May 2006 (Season 1, Episode 7).
2007 Relative Obscurity Claire Movie
2008 Aliens in America Zoe Episode: "Community Theater" 16 March 2008 (Season 1, Episode 13).
Broken Windows Sara Movie
Together Again for the First Time Brenda Movie
2009 I Have It Emily Movie
Without a Trace Liza Miller Episode: "Voir Dire" 17 March 2009 (Season 7, Episode 17)
Psych Willow Gimbley Episode: "Let's Get Hairy" 9 October 2009 (Season 4, Episode 8)
2010 Backyard Wedding Renee Tv Movie
Mad Men Cynthia Baxter Chinese Wall (TV episode 2010 #4.11)

External links