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Fairuza Balk
Fairuza Balk (2019 crop).jpg
Balk in 2019
Born (1974-05-21) May 21, 1974 (age 49)
  • Actress
  • musician
  • visual artist
Years active 1983–present

Fairuza Balk (born May 21, 1974) is an American actress, musician, and visual artist. Influential in popular culture, Balk is known for her portrayals of distinctive "goth-girl" characters, often with a dark edge. She has appeared in numerous independent films and blockbuster features in both leading and supporting roles.

Following a series of television film roles, Balk made her feature film debut as Dorothy Gale in the fantasy Return to Oz (1985), for which she was nominated for the Young Artist Award for Best Starring Performance By a Young Actress - Motion Picture. Her career progressed with roles in the drama films Valmont (1989) and Gas Food Lodging (1992), the latter earning her the Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. After appearing in the historical drama Imaginary Crimes (1994) and the crime drama Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995), Balk earned acclaim for her role in the horror film The Craft (1996), which earned her a nomination for the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, and a cult following. She has since appeared in The Island of Dr. Moreau (1996), American History X (1998), The Waterboy (1998), Almost Famous (2000), Personal Velocity: Three Portraits (2002), Deuces Wild (2002), Don't Come Knocking (2005), Wild Tigers I Have Known (2006), Humboldt County (2008), and Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans (2009).

On television, Balk portrayed Mildred Hubble in the 1986 adaptation of The Worst Witch, based on the book series of the same name. She appeared in the recurring role of Ginger on Showtime's Ray Donovan in 2015, and currently stars as Lizzie Thomas on the Amazon Prime series Paradise City (2021). Balk has been releasing music since 2010 under the name of her unsigned act, Armed Love Militia.

Early life

Balk was born on May 21, 1974, in Point Reyes, California to Solomon Feldthouse (born David Earle Scaff; 1940–2021), a musician, and Catherine Balk (1944-2018), a belly dancer. The name Fairuza is of Persian origin meaning "turquoise". Her father gave her the name for the color of her eyes. Feldthouse was one of the founding members of the 1960s psychedelic rock group Kaleidoscope, and was also a traveling folk musician. He was born in Pingree, Idaho and, between the ages of six and ten, lived in Turkey where he learned Greek, Iraqi, Iranian, and Armenian music.

Until the age of two, Balk lived in Jackson, Michigan with her mother. They then moved to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she began acting at age six. They moved to London and then to Paris for another role. They remained there for six months before returning to Vancouver. Balk owned an occult shop in Los Angeles as a young woman upon signing to act in the 1996 film The Craft.


Balk took her first acting course around the summer of 1983, where she was taught how to look at a camera and not be shy. Her first experience was in a British Columbia tourism commercial, for which she earned $100. Her debut role was in a 1983 television film titled The Best Christmas Pageant Ever. While in London, Balk was cast by Walt Disney Productions to star as Dorothy Gale in Return to Oz, the unofficial sequel to MGM's 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz. This role led to other minor roles, including that of Mildred Hubble in The Worst Witch. In 1988, at age 14, she moved to Paris to work on Valmont with Miloš Forman. She decided to take correspondence courses and went back to Hollywood, where she gained increasing notice as an actress. In 1992, she was awarded an Independent Spirit Award as best actress for her performance in the Allison Anders film Gas Food Lodging.

In 1996, she appeared in a lead role in The Craft, in which her character formed a teenage coven with characters portrayed by Neve Campbell, Rachel True and Robin Tunney. Since then, Balk has continued to find roles, primarily dark ones. In 1996, she co-starred in The Island of Dr Moreau. In 1998, she played a neo-Nazi goth-punk opposite Edward Norton in American History X, and was featured in The Waterboy, alongside Adam Sandler. Since 2000, she has appeared in over a dozen films and was briefly in a band called G-13. She has also done voice work for animated films, TV shows and video games, including Justice League, Family Guy, Grand Theft Auto: Vice City and Lords of EverQuest. The 2007 documentary Return to Oz: The Joy That Got Away was dedicated to her.

In 2010, Armed Love Militia, Balk's musical outlet, released the single "Stormwinds". The track was written and sung by Balk. Armed Love Militia continued, with Balk collaborating on an EP with singer and songwriter Mel Sanson.

In 2011, Balk began to exhibit art in Los Angeles and New York. On August 4, 2012, she participated in the group show 'MiXTAPE', with other notable artists Mark Ryden, Camille Rose Garcia, Jessicka Addams, and Marion Peck. Artists were asked to pick a song and create art inspired by that song. Balk chose the song "Nuages" by Django Reinhardt and created a 16"x20"x12" mixed-media sculpture. The eclectic mix of songs chosen were featured for digital download on iTunes.

In 2017, the emo puppet band Fragile Rock performed a song titled "Fairuza Balk" on their NPR Tiny Desk Concert.


Year Title Role Notes
1985 Return to Oz Dorothy Gale Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor
1986 Discovery Molly Short film
1988 Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick, TheThe Outside Chance of Maximilian Glick Celia Brzjinski
1989 Valmont Cecile
1992 Gas Food Lodging Shade Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead
1994 Imaginary Crimes Sonya Weiler
1994 Tollbooth Doris
1995 Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead Lucinda
1996 Craft, TheThe Craft Nancy Downs MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (shared with Robin Tunney)
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
1996 Island of Dr. Moreau, TheThe Island of Dr. Moreau Aissa
1997 American Perfekt Alice Thomas
1997 The Maker Bella Sotto
1998 There's No Fish Food in Heaven / Life In The Fast Lane (DVD Title) Mona
1998 American History X Stacey
1998 Waterboy, TheThe Waterboy Vicki Vallencourt
2000 Red Letters Gretchen Van Buren
2000 Almost Famous Sapphire Online Film Critics Society Award for Best Ensemble (shared with State and Main)
Nominated – Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture
2002 Personal Velocity: Three Portraits Paula
2002 Deuces Wild Annie 'The Ice Cube'
2005 What Is It? Screaming Snail / Insect / Monkey Girl (voice)
2005 Don't Come Knocking Amber
2005 Year and a Day, AA Year and a Day Lola
2006 Wild Tigers I Have Known Logan's Mom
2008 Humboldt County Bogart
2008 Grindstone Road Hannah
2009 Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Officer Heidi
2010 ... Year Message Voice
2013 Dose of Reality Rose
2014 Beyond Clueless Narrator
2014 Lost Soul Herself Documentary film
2015 Battle Scars Rifka
2017 August Falls Anna Ellison
2018 Hell Is Where the Home Is The Visitor aka Trespassers
2020 The Craft: Legacy Nancy Downs Cameo
Year Title Role Notes
1983 Best Christmas Pageant Ever, TheThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever Beth Bradley Television film
1985 Deceptions Penny Roberts Television film
1986 Worst Witch, TheThe Worst Witch Mildred Hubble Television film
1987 Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story Barbara—Age 12 Television film
1991 Deadly Intentions... Again? Stacey Television film
1992 Shame Lizzie Curtis Television film
1992 Danger of Love: The Carolyn Warmus Story, TheThe Danger of Love: The Carolyn Warmus Story Lisa Television film
1993 Murder in the Heartland Caril Ann Fugate Mini-series
1994 ZZ Top: Breakaway Vampire Girl Television film
1995 Shadow of a Doubt Angel Harwell Television film
1999 Family Guy Coco (voice) Episode: "Peter, Peter, Caviar Eater"
2000 Family Guy Connie D'Amico (voice) Episode: "Let's Go to the Hop"
2001 The Sopranos Agent Deborah Ciccerone Episode: "Army of One" (original airing only; all scenes replaced)
2003 Justice League Penny Dee (voice) Episode: "Only a Dream"
2006 Orpheus Karen Television film
2006 Masters of Horror Stacia Episode: "Pick Me Up"
2011–2012 Celebrity Ghost Stories Herself 3 episodes
2015 Ray Donovan Ginger 7 episodes
2021–present Paradise City Lizzie Thomas TV spinoff of American Satan
Video games
Year Title Voice role
2002 Grand Theft Auto: Vice City Mercedes Cortez
2003 Lords of EverQuest Lady T'Lak

See also

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