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 and 10 Things I Hate About You. 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".
Oleynik was born in Santa Clara County, California. Her mother Lorraine (née Allen) is a former nurse, and her father Roman Oleynik was an anesthesiologist. Her father's family is Ukrainian, and she was raised in the Russian Orthodox religion. Oleynik grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. Despite the success in her role as Alex Mack, Oleynik decided to attend college. Oleynik attended Pinewood School and laterSarah Lawrence College, describing the latter as "the best decision I’ve made," and graduated in 2004. She then moved to Los Angeles. From 1999-2002, 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 Oleynik was granted a restraining order against a fan she claims was so obsessed he changed his last name to hers, as well as leaving gifts for her at her mother's apartment.
Oleynik began acting in a San Francisco Broadway 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 and later proved how serious she was by beginning 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 made a cameo on The Adventures of Pete & Pete as a nurse at the beginning of the episode "Dance Fever". 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, 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 Larisa 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, and was involved in Nickelodeon's The Big Help charity, Hands Across Communication, Surfrider Foundation and the Starlight Children's Foundation. She has also hosted the CableACE Awards, Daytime Emmy Awards, YTV Achievement Awards, The Nickelodeon Kids' Choice Awards as well as the 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.
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. From 1998–2000, Oleynik appeared in twenty one episodes of the NBC series 3rd Rock from the Sun as Alissa Strudwick, girlfriend of Tommy (Joseph Gordon-Levitt, co-star of 10 Things I Hate About You). 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's lesbian army buddy, who developed a crush on his mom Lois. 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. 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. Her character is later killed off. Oleynik appeared as the girlfriend (and later wife) of Ken Cosgrove, Cynthia Cosgrove (née Baxter), in the fourth-season episode "Chinese Wall" and the fifth-season premiere "A Little Kiss" on the AMC television show Mad Men.
|1994||The Swan Princess||Pre-teen Odette||Voice Role (Singing)|
|1995||The Baby-Sitters Club||Dawn Schafer|
|1999||10 Things I Hate About You||Bianca Stratford|
|A Time for Dancing||Juliana 'Jules' Michaels|
|2001||An American Rhapsody||Maria - at 18|
|2003||Bringing Rain||Ori Swords|
|2006||Pope Dreams||Maggie Venable|
|Together Again for the First Time||Brenda||Video|
|2009||I Have It||Emily||Short film|
|2011||Winx Club: The Secret of the Lost Kingdom||Headmistress Faragonda, Queen Marion, Icy||Voice Role, Nick dub|
|2012||Born Yesterday||Elyse||Short film|
|Atlas Shrugged: Part II||Cherryl Brooks|
|2013||Orenthal: The Musical||Regina||Completed|
|Winx Club 3D: Magical Adventure||Headmistress Faragonda, Queen Marion, Icy||Voice Role, Nick dub|
|1993||Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman||Susie||Episode: "Heroes"|
|The Adventures of Pete & Pete||Nurse||Episode: "Dance Fever"|
|River of Rage: The Taking of Maggie Keene||Gail Keene||TV film|
|1994–1998||The Secret World of Alex Mack||Alexandra 'Alex' Mack||Lead role (78 episodes)|
|1996–1998||Boy Meets World||Dana Pruitt||Episodes: "The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter", "Stormy Weather", "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||Pepper Dennis||Brianna||Episodes: "Pilot", "Curtis Wilson's a Total Nut Job: Film at 11"|
|2008||Aliens in America||Zoe||Episode: "Community Theater"|
|2009||Without a Trace||Liza Miller||Episode: "Voir Dire"|
|Psych||Willow Gimbley||Episode: "Let's Get Hairy"|
|2010||Backyard Wedding||Renee||TV film|
|2010, 2012||Mad Men||Cynthia Baxter||Episodes: "Chinese Wall", "A Little Kiss, Part 1", "Signal 30", "At the Codfish Ball"|
|2011||Hawaii Five-0||Jenna Kaye||Recurring role (6 episodes)|
Headmistress Faragonda Queen Marion
|2012||Mike & Molly||Allison||Episode: "The Dress"|
|Fairly Legal||Officer Glacki||Episode: "What They Seem"|
|2012–2014||Pretty Little Liars||Maggie Cutler||7 episodes|