Lyonne at the 2014 Peabody Awards
Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein
April 4, 1979
New York City, U.S.
Natasha Bianca Lyonne Braunstein (//; born April 4, 1979) is an American actress, director, writer, and producer. She starred as Nicky Nichols in the Netflix comedy-drama series Orange Is the New Black (2013–2019), for which she received a Primetime Emmy Award nomination, and portrayed Nadia Vulvokov in the Netflix comedy-drama series Russian Doll (2019–present), which she also co-created, executive produces, writes, and directs. For the latter, Lyonne received nominations for three Primetime Emmy Awards.
Lyonne is also known for her role as Jessica in the American Pie film series (1999–2012). Her other film credits include Everyone Says I Love You (1996), But I'm a Cheerleader (1999), Scary Movie 2 (2001), Blade: Trinity (2004), Robots (2005), All About Evil (2010), Sleeping with Other People (2015), Hello, My Name Is Doris (2015), Addicted to Fresno (2015), Antibirth (2016), Yoga Hosers (2016), and Ad Astra (2019).
Lyonne's parents were from Orthodox Jewish families, and she was raised Orthodox. Her mother was born in Paris, France, to Hungarian Jewish parents who were Holocaust survivors. Lyonne has darkly joked that her family consists of "my father's side, Flatbush, and my mother's side, Auschwitz." Her grandmother Ella came from a large family. Only she and her two sisters and two brothers survived, which Lyonne credits to their blond hair and blue eyes. 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.
Lyonne lived the first eight years of her life in Great Neck, New York. She and her parents moved to Israel, where Lyonne spent a year and a half. During her stay there, Lyonne participated in the production of the Israeli children's film April Fool, which began her interest in acting. Her parents divorced, and Lyonne and her older brother Adam returned to America with their mother. After moving back to New York City, Lyonne attended the Ramaz School, a private Jewish school, 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. Her mother moved their family to Miami, where Lyonne attended Miami Country Day School. She has not graduated from high school; she left before her senior year 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.
Lyonne was estranged from her father, who was a Democratic candidate for City Council for the sixth District of Manhattan in 2013, and lived on the Upper West Side until his death in October 2014. Lyonne has said she is not close to her mother and has essentially lived independently of her family since age 16.
As a young child, Lyonne was signed by the Ford Modeling Agency. 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."
At age 16, 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, 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 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".
In 2011, Lyonne starred opposite Ethan Hawke and Ann Dowd in New Group's production of Tommy Nohilly's Blood From a Stone. The following year, she participated in New Group's benefit performance of Women Behind Bars.
On working in the theater, Lyonne said "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".
Since 2013 she has appeared as Nicky Nichols in the critically acclaimed Netflix series Orange Is the New Black. The role is Lyonne's first television job as a series regular. She received a nomination for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Comedy Series in 2014, 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. In 2016 she began voicing the character Smoky Quartz on the Cartoon Network show 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. She has voiced characters on The Simpsons and Netflix's Big Mouth.
Her performance in the 2019 Netflix series Russian Doll has been praised as "astonishing". Alan Sepinwall of Rolling Stone called it "brilliant". The series as a whole received 13 Emmy nominations including Outstanding Comedy Series, Outstanding Lead Actress in a Comedy Series for Lyonne's performance as Nadia Vulvokov, and Outstanding Writing for a Comedy Series.
Directing and producing
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. The surrealist short film was titled Cabiria, Charity, Chastity and starred Rudolph, Fred Armisen, Greta Lee, Leslie Odom Jr. and Macaulay Culkin.
In September 2017, Lyonne's 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, premiered on February 1, 2019. Lyonne has multiple roles in the series. She is credited as the lead actress and is one of the executive producers of the series with directorial and writing credits.
Lyonne directed an episode of Orange Is the New Black for its seventh and final season, as well as an episode of Hulu's Shrill, "WAHAM". and an episode of High Fidelity titled "Weird...But Warm."
When she was 18, Lyonne used the paycheck from her work on Everyone Says I Love You to buy a small apartment near Gramercy Park. During the early 2000s, Lyonne experienced legal problems and was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol, and for incidents involving her neighbors. In 2005 she was evicted by her landlord, actor Michael Rapaport, following complaints by other tenants about her behavior.
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 for heroin addiction. In January 2006, a warrant was issued for her arrest 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 a drug and alcohol treatment center and she appeared in court afterward. A judge sentenced her to conditional discharge.
Lyonne underwent open-heart surgery in 2012 to correct heart valve damage caused by her heart infection, which could have resulted in sudden death if untreated. She recovered from the surgery and discussed her past health problems on The Rosie Show in March 2012.
|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|
|1999||Detroit Rock City||Christine Sixteen|
|1999||Freeway II: Confessions of a Trickbaby||Crystal "White Girl" Van Meuther||Also associate producer|
|1999||But I'm a Cheerleader||Megan Bloomfield|
|1999||The Auteur Theory||Rosemary Olson|
|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|
|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||Running Away with Blackie||Motel Clerk||Short film|
|2009||Outrage: Born in Terror||Molly|
|2010||All About Evil||Deborah Tennis|
|2011||4:44 Last Day on Earth||Tina|
|2011||Night Club||Mrs. Keaton|
|2013||He's Way More Famous Than You||Herself|
|2013||Girl Most Likely||Allyson|
|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|
|2016||Yoga Hosers||Tabitha Collette|
|2016||Darby Forever||The Baddest Girl||Short film|
|2016||Adam Green's Aladdin||Mom|
|2016||The Realest Real||Herself||Short film|
|2016||Jack Goes Home||Nancy|
|2017||Girlfriend's Day||Miss Taft|
|2017||Handsome||Det. Fleur Scozzari|
|2017||Cabiria, Charity, Chastity||Jules||Short film|
Also producer, writer, and director
|2018||A Futile and Stupid Gesture||Anne Beatts|
|2019||Honey Boy||Mrs. Lort|
|2019||Ad Astra||Tanya Pincus|
|2019||Uncut Gems||Boston Player Personnel (voice)|
|2020||Have a Good Trip: Adventures in Psychedelics||Herself|
|2020||Irresistible||Tina De Tessant|
|2021||The United States vs. Billie Holiday||Tallulah Bankhead||Post-production|
|1986||Pee-wee's Playhouse||Opal||6 episodes|
|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"|
|2013||NTSF:SD:SUV::||Mrs. Barbato||Episode: "Comic Con-Air"|
|2013–2019||Orange Is the New Black||Nicky Nichols||Main role; 81 episodes|
Directed episode: "The Hidey Hole"
|2015||Comedy Bang! Bang!||Katie||Episode: "Dax Shepard Wears a Heather Grey Shirt and Black Blazer"|
|2015||Sanjay and Craig||Chido (voice)||Episode: "Bike-o Psycho/Boulder Rollers"|
|2015–2016||Inside Amy Schumer||Various||2 episodes|
|2016||The $100,000 Pyramid||Herself||Episode: "Natasha Lyonne vs. Terry Crews"|
|2016–2019||Steven Universe||Smoky Quartz (voice)||3 episodes|
|2016–2019||The Simpsons||Sophie (voice)||3 episodes|
|2018–present||Ballmastrz: 9009||Gaz Digzy (voice)||Main role; 20 episodes|
|2018||Corporate||Gretchen||Episode: "Corporate Retreat"|
|2018||Animals.||VHS Copy of Can't Hardly Wait (voice)||Episode: "Stuff"|
|2018–2020||Big Mouth||Suzette (voice)
Episode: Horrority House
|2019–present||Russian Doll||Nadia Vulvokov||Main role; 8 episodes|
Also producer, writer, and director
|2019||Documentary Now!||Carla Meola||Episode: "Long Gone"|
|2019||An Emmy for Megan||Herself||Episode: "New Minimum Length"|
|2019||Explained||Narrator (voice)||Episode: "Pirates"|
|2019||Steven Universe Future||Smoky Quartz (voice)||Episode: "Guidance"|
|2019||Cake||Gretchen||Episode: "Cache Flow"|
|2019||John Mulaney & the Sack Lunch Bunch||Herself||Television special|
|2020||Shrill||None||Directed episode: "WAHAM"|
|2020||Awkwafina Is Nora from Queens||Woman in Hair Salon||Episode: "Not Today"|
Directed episode: "Paperwork"
|2020||High Fidelity||None||Directed episode: "Weird... But Warm"|
|2020||Crossing Swords||Norah (voice)||Episode: "Eat Plague Love"|
|2020||Sarah Cooper: Everything's Fine||None||Director|
|2003||"Way Out West"||Verbena|
|2015||"Lampshades on Fire"||Modest Mouse|
Awards and nominations
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- "Natasha Lyonne Biography". TV Guide. Retrieved August 26, 2014.
- Barkan, Ross (August 29, 2013). "Offbeat Boxing Promoter Tries to Roil West Side Council Race". Politicker. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- Simonson, Robert (January 6, 2008). "When Living at All Is the Best Revenge". The New York Times. Retrieved January 6, 2008.
- Hoffman, Barbara (January 3, 2010). "In my library: Natasha Lyonne". New York Post. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Raab, Scott (June 12, 2015). "Natasha Lyonne on Orange Is the New Black and Provocative Fan Requests". Esquire.
- "Spoonful of Sugar". Heeb Magazine. Heeb Media, LLC. December 16, 2008. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
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- "USC Shoah Foundation Institute testimony of Ella Buchinger". United States Holocaust Museum. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
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- Heyman, Marshall (October 25, 2010). "Natasha Lyonne Turns a Page". The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Pearlman, Cindy (July 2, 2000). "Natasha Lyonne". Chicago Sun-Times. p. 3.
- Dreher, Rod (January 12, 1997). "Her Heart Is In New York". Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale). p. 2D. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- "'American Pie' star files case against dad". Digital Spy. January 12, 2010. Retrieved November 11, 2013.
- "Natasha Lyonne's estranged father passes away". Hollywood.com. October 14, 2014. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
- Vilkomerson, Sara (March 30, 2012). "The hell-and-back journey of Natasha Lyonne: 'I was definitely as good as dead'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- "Natasha Lyonne to Star in Mike Leigh's Two Thousand Years". Broadway.com. October 18, 2007. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- Isherwood, Charles (October 2, 2009). "Spandex Agonistes: Why Don't You Try It On?". The New York Times. Retrieved April 21, 2011.
- Isherwood, Charles (October 6, 2010). "Escaped Predator? What Else Is New?". The New York Times. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
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- Hetrick, Adam; Gans, Andrew (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.
- Brown, Emma (July 9, 2013). "Natasha Lyonne, Locked Up". Interview. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- 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.
- Andreeva, Nellie (February 27, 2014). "Ellen Burstyn To Star In Amy Poehler's NBC Comedy Pilot 'Old Soul'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- "Russian Doll: Season 1". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved March 10, 2019.
- Sepinwall, Alan (January 29, 2019). "'Russian Doll' Review: Natasha Lyonne Is a Revelation". Rolling Stone. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- "Outstanding Comedy Series Nominees 71st Emmy Awards Nominees and Winners". Emmys. 2019.
- Richards, Katie (September 14, 2017). "Kenzo Follows Its Spike Jonze Film With a 13-Minute Surrealist Gem From Natasha Lyonne". Adweek. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- Andreeva, Nellie (September 20, 2017). "Netflix Greenlights Comedy From Natasha Lyonne, Leslye Headland & Amy Poehler". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved November 12, 2018.
- "Netflix's Russian Doll: TV's answer to Groundhog Day?". The Guardian. February 2, 2019. Retrieved February 2, 2019.
- Petski, Denise (January 11, 2019). "Danielle Renfrew Behrens To Head Maya Rudolph & Natasha Lyonne's Animal Pictures". Deadline Hollywood.
- Myers, Amanda Lee. "Sarah Cooper's lip-syncing journey from TikTok to Netflix". The Daily Progress. Associated Press. Retrieved January 1, 2021.
- "Pie Star Lyonne Arrested for Drink Driving". ABC News. August 29, 2001. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- Silverman, Stephen M. (April 19, 2005). "Arrest Warrant Out for American Pie Star – Natasha Lyonne". People. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- "Michael Rapaport Driven to Despair by Natasha Lyonne". Hollywood.com. April 21, 2005. Retrieved October 20, 2011.
- "American Pie star's fight for life". Access Hollywood. Retrieved June 8, 2015.
- "Natasha Lyonne Having the Last Laugh". People. August 11, 2014. Archived from the original on September 18, 2019. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
- Gross, Terry (March 27, 2019). "Natasha Lyonne Finds Herself Inside 'Russian Doll'". NPR. Retrieved September 18, 2019.
- "Natasha Lyonne's Major Medical Scare". The Rosie Show. October 22, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2013.
- Yuan, Jada (August 3, 2013). "A Day Apartment Hunting With Natasha Lyonne". New York (Vulture). Retrieved March 1, 2014.
- Marquina, Sierra (August 26, 2014). "Natasha Lyonne and Fred Armisen Are Dating: Details". Us Weekly.
- Jefferson, Whitney (September 19, 2016). "Fred Armisen And Natasha Lyonne Attended The Emmys In A Hearse". BuzzFeed. Retrieved March 13, 2019.
- "Watch Against Me!'s Sixties-Inspired '333' Video Starring Natasha Lyonne". Rolling Stone. Retrieved April 24, 2017.
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- "Outstanding Guest Actress In A Comedy Series Nominees / Winners 2014". Television Academy.
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- "Never mind Oscar, here's the 2017 FANGORIA Chainsaw Awards Nominees Ballot!". Fangoria. Retrieved February 14, 2017.
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- Goldberg, Lesley (June 19, 2019). "'Pose,' 'Russian Doll,' HBO Lead 2019 TV Critic Awards Nominations". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved July 2, 2020.
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