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Natasha Lyonne [1] (born April 4, 1979),[2] is an American actress. She is best known for her role as Nicky Nichols on the Netflix series Orange Is the New Black (2013–present), for which she received an Emmy Award nomination in 2014, and for her role as Jessica in the American Pie film series (1999–2012).

Natasha Lyonne
Natasha Lyonne 2014 (cropped).jpg
Lyonne at the 2014 Peabody Awards
Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein

(1979-04-04) April 4, 1979 (age 39)
ResidenceNew York City, U.S.
Years active1986–present

She has appeared in over 50 films, including: Everyone Says I Love You (1996), Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), Detroit Rock City; But I'm a Cheerleader (both 1999), Scary Movie 2; The Grey Zone; Kate & Leopold (all 2001), Party Monster; Die, Mommie, Die! (both 2003), Blade: Trinity (2004), Robots (2005), All About Evil (2010), Sleeping with Other People; Hello, My Name Is Doris; Addicted to Fresno (all 2015), Yoga Hosers; Antibirth; The Intervention (all 2016), and Show Dogs (2017).


Early lifeEdit

Lyonne was born in New York City as Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein[3], the daughter of Ivette Buchinger[1] and Aaron Braunstein, a boxing promoter, race car driver, and radio host,[4] who was distantly related to cartoonist Al Jaffee.[1]

Lyonne's parents were both from Orthodox Jewish families, and she herself was raised Orthodox.[5][6][7] Her mother was born in Paris, France,[8] to Hungarian Jewish parents who were Holocaust survivors.[9][10][11][12][13] Lyonne has darkly joked that her family consists of "my father's side, Flatbush, and my mother's side, Auschwitz."[1] Her grandmother Ella[14] came from a large family, but only she and her two sisters and two brothers survived, which Lyonne credits to their blond hair and blue eyes.[1] Lyonne's grandfather, Morris Buchinger, operated a watch company in Los Angeles. During the war, he hid in Budapest as a non-Jew working in a leather factory.[1]

Lyonne spent the first eight years of her life living in Great Neck, New York.[9][15] She and her parents then moved to Israel, where Lyonne spent a year and a half. During her stay in Israel, Lyonne participated in the production of the Israeli children's film April Fool, which began her interest in being an actress.[5][16] Her parents divorced, and Lyonne and her older brother Adam returned to America with their mother.[9] After moving back to New York City, Lyonne attended The Rabbi Joseph H. Lookstein Upper School of Ramaz, a private Jewish school,[17] where Lyonne said she was a scholarship kid who took honors Talmud classes and read Aramaic. She was expelled for selling marijuana at school. Lyonne grew up on the Upper East Side, where she felt she was an outcast.[1] Her mother then moved their family to Miami, where Lyonne attended Miami Country Day School.[18][19] She never graduated high school; before her senior year, she left to attend a film program at NYU's Tisch School of the Arts. Her high school graduation depended on completing her first year at Tisch, but she left the program because she could not pay the tuition.[20]

She attended New York University for a short time, studying film and philosophy.[15]

Lyonne was estranged from her father, who lived on the Upper West Side until his death in October 2014[citation needed] and in 2013 was a Republican candidate for City Council for the sixth District of Manhattan.[4][21] Lyonne has said she is not close with her mother and has essentially lived independently of her family since age 16.[5]


As a young child, Lyonne was signed by the Ford Modeling Agency.[22] At the age of six, she was cast as Opal on Pee-wee's Playhouse, followed by film appearances in Heartburn, A Man Called Sarge, and Dennis the Menace. On working as a very young child actor, Lyonne said: "I didn’t have the best parents. I don’t think they are bad people. Even if they were ready to have children, it is kind of a wacky idea to put your child in business at six years old."[8]


At 16 years of age, Lyonne was cast in the Woody Allen-directed Everyone Says I Love You (1996). This led to appearances in a variety of films over the next 10 years, including starring roles in the independent features Slums of Beverly Hills (1998), for which she received two Teen Choice Award nominations,[23] and But I'm a Cheerleader (1999). During this time, she appeared as Jessica in the highly successful teen comedy American Pie (1999), reprising the role in two of its sequels. Lyonne's other films during this period included Detroit Rock City, Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby (both 1999), Scary Movie 2, The Grey Zone, Kate & Leopold (all 2001), Party Monster (2003), and Blade: Trinity (2004).

Lyonne's subsequent film appearances include All About Evil (2010), 4:44 Last Day on Earth (2011), Girl Most Likely, Loitering with Intent, Sleeping with Other People, Hello My Name Is Doris, Addicted to Fresno, #Horror, Yoga Hosers, Antibirth, The Intervention, and Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie.

In 2019, she will appear alongside Lucas Hedges and Shia LaBeouf in LaBeouf’s autobiographical film Honey Boy.[24]

Lyonne at The Paley Center for Media's PaleyFest 2014 Honoring Orange Is the New Black


Lyonne made her New York stage debut in the award-winning New Group production of Mike Leigh's Two Thousand Years.[5][25]

She was part of the original cast of the award-winning Love, Loss, and What I Wore, a play written by Nora Ephron and Delia Ephron, based on the book by Ilene Beckerman.[26]

In 2010, Lyonne received positive reviews for her performance in Kim Rosenstock's comedy, Tigers Be Still, at the Roundabout Theatre Company: "a thorough delight in the flat-out funniest role, the grief-crazed Grace, so deeply immersed in self-pity that she has cast aside any attempts at decorum".[27][28]

In 2011, Lyonne starred opposite Ethan Hawke and Ann Dowd in New Group's production of Tommy Nohilly's Blood From a Stone.[29][30] The following year, she participated in New Group's benefit performance of Women Behind Bars.[31]

On working in the theater: "There's something about theater that squashes the self-critical voices because you have to be in the moment. I'm glad that I didn't do this before I was ready, before I was capable of showing up every day. That is not a skill set I had before".[30]


Lyonne has made guest appearances on the series Weeds, New Girl, Will & Grace, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.

In late 2012, Lyonne was reported to be developing a TV series for Fox about a young girl, who, fresh out of rehab and committed to starting a new life as a sober, responsible adult, is forced to move in with her conservative brother and young family.[32] However, the project failed to come to fruition.

Since 2013, she has appeared as Nicky Nichols on the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. The role is Lyonne's first television job as a series regular.[33] She received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014,[34] and has twice been awarded the Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, along with her co-stars.

In 2014, Lyonne was cast in Amy Poehler's NBC comedy pilot Old Soul, directed by David Wain.[35] In 2016, she began voicing the character Smoky Quartz on Cartoon Network's Steven Universe. She has also appeared as various characters on IFC's sketch comedy series Portlandia. In 2018, she voiced the character Gaz Digzy on Adult Swim's comedy series Ballmastrz: 9009. More recently, she has voiced characters on The Simpsons and Netflix’s Big Mouth.

Directing and producingEdit

In 2017, Lyonne was approached by Kenzo’s creative directors Carol Lim and Humberto Leon to direct the 5th installment in their short film series. For this, her directorial debut, she began writing a script with Maya Rudolph in mind to star.[36] The surrealist short film, was titled Cabiria, Charity, Chastity, and starred Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Greta Lee, Leslie Odom Jr., and Macaulay Culkin.[37]

In September 2017, Lyonne’s new project Russian Doll was given an 8 episode straight to series order by Netflix.  The comedy co-created and executive produced by Lyonne, Amy Poehler, and Leslye Headland is slated to release on Netflix early 2019.[38] Lyonne will serve multiple roles as the show’s star, writer, and one of the 3 female directors to helm the series.[39]

Lyonne will also be directing an episode of Orange Is the New Black for its 7th and final season.

Personal lifeEdit

Lyonne lives in New York City.[40]

When she was 18 years old, Lyonne used the paycheck from her work on Everyone Says I Love You to buy a small apartment near Gramercy Park.[9] At this time, she skipped her senior year of high school to attend NYU Tisch as a double major film and philosophy.

During the early 2000s, Lyonne experienced legal problems and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol,[41] and for incidents involving her neighbors.[42] In 2005, she was evicted by her landlord, actor Michael Rapaport, following complaints by other tenants about her behavior.[43]

In 2005, Lyonne was admitted to Beth Israel Medical Center in Manhattan under a pseudonym, suffering from hepatitis C, a heart infection, and a collapsed lung; she was also undergoing methadone treatment.[44] In January 2006, an arrest warrant was issued for her after she missed a court hearing relating to her prior problems. Her lawyer said an emergency had arisen, but did not give details. Later that year, Lyonne was admitted to the Caron Foundation, a drug and alcohol treatment center, and appeared in court afterwards. A judge sentenced her to conditional discharge.[5]

Lyonne underwent open heart surgery to correct damage caused by her heart infection. She recovered from the surgery, and discussed her past health problems on The Rosie Show in March 2012.[45]

She has been in a relationship with Saturday Night Live alum Fred Armisen since 2014.[46][47]



Year Title Role Notes
1986 Heartburn Rachel's Niece Uncredited[48]
1990 A Man Called Sarge Arab Girl
1993 Dennis the Menace Polly
1996 Everyone Says I Love You Djuna "DJ" Berlin
1998 Slums of Beverly Hills Vivian Abromowitz
1998 Krippendorf's Tribe Shelly Krippendorf
1998 Modern Vampires Rachel
1999 American Pie Jessica
1999 Detroit Rock City Christine Sixteen
1999 Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby Crystal "White Girl" Van Meuther
1999 But I'm a Cheerleader Megan Bloomfield
1999 The Auteur Theory Rosemary Olson
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 Jeanne
2001 Plan B Kaye
2001 Fast Sofa Tamara Jenson
2001 Scary Movie 2 Megan Voorhees
2001 American Pie 2 Jessica
2001 The Grey Zone Rosa
2001 Kate & Leopold Darci
2002 Comic Book Villains Judy Link
2002 Zig Zag Jenna the Working Girl
2002 Night at the Golden Eagle Amber
2003 Die, Mommie, Die! Edith Sussman
2003 Party Monster Brooke
2004 America Brown Vera
2004 Madhouse Alice
2004 Blade: Trinity Sommerfield
2005 Robots Loretta Geargrinder Voice
2005 My Suicidal Sweetheart Grace
2008 Tricks of a Woman Sally
2009 The Immaculate Conception of Little Dizzle Tracy
2009 Jelly Mona Hammel
2009 Goyband Fani
2009 Outrage: Born in Terror Molly
2009 Heterosexuals Ellia
2010 All About Evil Deborah Tennis
2011 4:44 Last Day on Earth Tina
2011 Night Club Mrs. Keaton
2012 American Reunion Jessica
2013 7E Yael [49]
2013 He's Way More Famous Than You Herself
2013 The Rambler Cheryl
2013 G.B.F. Ms. Hogel
2013 Girl Most Likely Allyson
2013 Clutter Lisa Bradford
2014 Loitering with Intent Kaplan
2015 Addicted to Fresno Martha Jackson
2015 Sleeping with Other People Kara
2015 Hello, My Name Is Doris Sally
2015 Bloomin Mud Shuffle Jock
2015 #Horror Emma
2016 Yoga Hosers Tabitha Collette
2016 The Intervention Sarah
2016 Antibirth Lou
2016 Adam Green's Aladdin Mom
2016 Jack Goes Home Nancy
2017 Girlfriend's Day Miss Taft
2017 Handsome: A Netflix Mystery Movie Det. Fleur Scozzari
2018 A Futile and Stupid Gesture Anne Beatts
2018 Show Dogs Mattie
2019 Honey Boy Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1986 Pee-wee's Playhouse Opal season 1
2000 Will & Grace Gillian Episode: "Girl Trouble"
2000 If These Walls Could Talk 2 Jeanne Television film
2001 Night Visions Bethany Daniels Episode: "If a Tree Falls"
2002 Grounded for Life Gretchen Episode: "Relax!"
2007 The Knights of Prosperity Female Co-Star Episode: "Operation: Rent Money"
2009 Loving Leah Esther Television film
2011 New Girl Gretchen Episode: "Wedding"
2011 Law & Order: Special Victims Unit Gia Eskas Episode: "Educated Guess"
2012 Weeds Tiffani 2 episodes
2013 NTSF:SD:SUV:: Mrs. Barbato Episode: "Comic Con-Air"
2013–present Orange Is the New Black Nicky Nichols 68 episodes
Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Nominated – Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series
2015 Girls Rickey Episode: "Iowa"
2015–18 Portlandia Various 5 episodes
2015 Comedy Bang! Bang! Katie Episode: "Dax Shepard Wears a Heather Grey Shirt and Black Blazer"
2015–16 Inside Amy Schumer Various 2 episodes
2015 Sanjay and Craig Chido (voice) Episode: "Bike-o Psycho/Boulder Rollers"
2016 Steven Universe Smoky Quartz (voice) 2 episodes
2016 The $100,000 Pyramid Herself Episode: "Natasha Lyonne vs. Terry Crews"
2016 The Simpsons Sophie (voice) Episode: "The Nightmare After Krustmas"
2018 Corporate Gretchen Episode: "Corporate Retreat"
2018–present Ballmastrz: 9009 Gaz Digzy (voice) 10 episodes
2018 Animals. VHS Copy of Can't Hardly Wait (voice) Episode: "Stuff"
2018 Big Mouth Suzette (voice) 2 episodes

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Category Work Result
1999 Chicago Film Critics Association Awards Most Promising Actress Slums of Beverly Hills Nominated
Teen Choice Awards Film – Breakout Performance Nominated
Film – Funniest Scene (shared with Marisa Tomei) Nominated[50]
2000 Young Hollywood Awards Best Ensemble Cast American Pie Won
2008 Monaco International Film Festival Angel Award, Best Supporting Female Actor Tricks of Love Won
2014 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series Orange Is the New Black Nominated
2017 Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Actress[51] Antibirth Nominated

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Maron, Marc (October 14, 2013). "Episode 432 - Natasha Lyonne" (audio podcast). WTF Podcast. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  2. ^ "Natasha Lyonne Biography". Retrieved August 26, 2014.
  3. ^ "Episode 432 - Natasha Lyonne". WTF with Marc Maron Podcast. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  4. ^ a b Barkan, Ross (29 August 2013). "Offbeat Boxing Promoter Tries to Roil West Side Council Race". Politicker. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Simonson, Robert (January 6, 2008). "When Living at All Is the Best Revenge". New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2008.
  6. ^ Hoffman, Barbara (January 3, 2010). "In my library: Natasha Lyonne". New York Post. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  7. ^ Natasha Lyonne Interview - Natasha Lyonne on Orange Is the New Black, Growing Up
  8. ^ a b c "Spoonful of Sugar". Heeb Magazine. Heeb Media, LLC. December 16, 2008. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  9. ^ a b c d Hass, Nancy (July 9, 2000). "Shopping with: Natasha Lyonne; Rough, Tough, But on a Road To Ladylike". New York Times. Retrieved 19 May 2010.
  10. ^ Landman, Beth; Spiegelman, Ian (November 27, 2000). "A Dark Grey Zone for Natasha Lyonne". New York (Intelligencer). Archived from the original on June 27, 2006. Retrieved July 16, 2006.
  11. ^ Aschenbrand, Periel (September 7, 2016). "The Chosen Ones: An Interview With Natasha Lyonne". Tablet Magazine. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  12. ^ "Jews Making News: Natasha Lyonne for New Amy Poehler Pilot". Atlanta Jewish Times. March 27, 2014. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  13. ^ "Breakout Talent : Natasha Lyonne - Spitfire Girl". Backstage. February 21, 2001. Retrieved May 30, 2018.
  14. ^ "USC Shoah Foundation Institute testimony of Ella Buchinger". United States Holocaust Museum. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  15. ^ a b "Talking with...Natasha Lyonne". Pamela's Film and Entertainment Site. Archived from the original on October 27, 2009. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  16. ^ "Slum Pickings". People. September 7, 1998. Archived from the original on March 5, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  17. ^ Heyman, Marshall (October 25, 2010). "Natasha Lyonne Turns a Page". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 4 November 2013.
  18. ^ Cindy Pearlman (July 2, 2000). "Natasha Lyonne". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 3.
  19. ^ Dreher, Rod (January 12, 1997). "Her Heart Is In New York". Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale). p. 2D. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  20. ^
  21. ^ "'American Pie' star files case against dad". Digital Spy. January 12, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
  22. ^ Vilkomerson, Sara (30 March 2012). "The hell-and-back journey of Natasha Lyonne: 'I was definitely as good as dead'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  23. ^ "Natasha Lyonne - Awards". IMDb. Retrieved 8 November 2018.
  24. ^ Honey Boy, retrieved 2018-11-12
  25. ^ "Natasha Lyonne to Star in Mike Leigh's Two Thousand Years". 18 October 2007. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  26. ^ Isherwood, Charles (October 2, 2009). "Spandex Agonistes: Why Don't You Try It On?". New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
  27. ^ Isherwood, Charles (6 October 2010). "Escaped Predator? What Else Is New?". The New York Times. Retrieved 20 October 2011.
  28. ^ Van Meter, William (24 October 2010). "89 Minutes With Natasha Lyonne". New York (Intelligencer). Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  29. ^ Isherwood, Charles (January 12, 2011). "Discord Dished Up at Every Meal". The New York Times. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  30. ^ a b Wilson, Gemma (24 December 2010). "What's Up, Natasha Lyonne? The Blood From a Stone Star Opens Up on Surviving Her Own Career". Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  31. ^ Hetrick, Adam and Andrew Gans (May 7, 2012). "Cynthia Nixon, Natasha Lyonne, Charles Busch and Rosie O'Donnell Are Women Behind Bars May 7". Playbill. Archived from the original on March 4, 2014. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  32. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (18 December 2012). "Fox Developing Sibling Comedy Starring Natasha Lyonne". Deadline Hollywood.
  33. ^ Brown, Emma (9 July 2013). "Natasha Lyonne, Locked Up". Interview Magazine. Retrieved 1 March 2014.
  34. ^ Yamato, Jen (August 12, 2014). "EMMYS Q&A: 'Orange Is The New Black's Natasha Lyonne On Redemption And Her First Emmy Nod". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved June 21, 2016.
  35. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 27, 2014). "Ellen Burstyn To Star In Amy Poehler's NBC Comedy Pilot 'Old Soul'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  36. ^ "Kenzo Follows Its Spike Jonze Film With a 13-Minute Surrealist Gem From Natasha Lyonne". Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  37. ^ Cabiria, Charity, Chastity, retrieved 2018-11-12
  38. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (2017-09-20). "Netflix Greenlights Comedy From Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland & Amy Poehler". Deadline. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  39. ^ "Natasha Lyonne". IMDb. Retrieved 2018-11-12.
  40. ^ Yuan, Jada (August 3, 2013). "A Day Apartment Hunting With Natasha Lyonne". New York (Vulture). Retrieved March 1, 2014.
  41. ^ "Pie Star Lyonne Arrested for Drink Driving". ABC News. August 29, 2001. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  42. ^ Silverman, Stephen M. (April 19, 2005). "Arrest Warrant Out for American Pie Star - Natasha Lyonne". People. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  43. ^ "Michael Rapaport Driven to Despair by Natasha Lyonne". April 21, 2005. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
  44. ^ "Access Hollywood". American Pie star’s fight for life. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
  45. ^ "Natasha Lyonne's Major Medical Scare". The Rosie Show. October 22, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
  46. ^ Natasha Lyonne and Fred Armisen Are Dating: Details - Us Weekly
  47. ^ Fred Armisen And Natasha Lyonne Attended The Emmys In A Hearse
  48. ^ Raab, Scott (June 12, 2015). "Natasha Lyonne on Orange Is the New Black and Provocative Fan Requests". Esquire. Retrieved June 10, 2016.
  49. ^
  50. ^ "Teen Choice Awards 1999". "IMDB".
  51. ^ "Never mind Oscar, here's the 2017 FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards Nominees Ballot!". Fangoria. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  52. ^ "Watch Against Me!'s Sixties-Inspired '333' Video Starring Natasha Lyonne". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2017-04-24.
  53. ^ Against Me! (2016-09-02), Against Me! - "333", retrieved 2017-04-27

External linksEdit