Fairuza Balk

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Fairuza Balk
Balk in 2019
Born (1974-05-21) May 21, 1974 (age 50)
  • Actress
  • musician
  • visual artist
Years active1983–present

Fairuza Balk (born May 21, 1974) is an American actress, musician, and visual artist. Known for her portrayals of distinctive characters—often with a dark edge and "goth-girl" persona[1][2]—she has appeared in numerous independent films and blockbuster features.

Following a series of television roles, Balk made her feature film debut as Dorothy Gale in Return to Oz (1985), for which she was nominated for a Young Artist Award for Best Starring Performance. Her career progressed with parts in films such as Valmont (1989) and Gas Food Lodging (1992), the latter earning her an Independent Spirit Award for Best Female Lead. After roles in Imaginary Crimes (1994) and Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead (1995), Balk received acclaim and a cult following for her portrayal of Nancy Downs in The Craft (1996), which earned her an MTV Movie Award. Her other credits include 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).

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

Early life[edit]

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.[3]

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. [citation needed] Balk bought an occult shop in Los Angeles while filming the 1996 film The Craft.[4]


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.[5] 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 sequel to MGM's 1939 musical The Wizard of Oz.[6] This role led to others, 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.[7]

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 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.[8][9][10] Armed Love Militia continued, with Balk collaborating on an EP with singer and songwriter Mel Sanson.[11]

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.[12][13][14]

In 2017, the emo puppet band Fragile Rock performed a song titled "Fairuza Balk" on their NPR Tiny Desk Concert.[15]


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
The Worst Witch Mildred Hubble
1988 The 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
Tollbooth Doris
1995 Things to Do in Denver When You're Dead Lucinda
1996 The Craft Nancy Downs MTV Movie Award for Best Fight (shared with Robin Tunney)
Nominated – Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress
The Island of Dr. Moreau Aissa
1997 American Perfekt Alice Thomas
The Maker Bella Sotto
1998 There's No Fish Food in Heaven / Life In The Fast Lane (DVD Title) [16] Mona
American History X Stacey
The 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
Deuces Wild Annie 'The Ice Cube'
2005 What Is It? Screaming Snail, Insect, Monkey Girl Voice
Don't Come Knocking Amber
A Year and a Day Lola
2006 Wild Tigers I Have Known Logan's Mom
2008 Humboldt County Bogart
Grindstone Road Hannah
2009 Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans Officer Heidi
2010 Shit Year Message Voice
2013 Dose of Reality Rose
2014 Beyond Clueless Narrator
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 The Best Christmas Pageant Ever Beth Bradley Television film
1985 Deceptions Penny Roberts
1986 The Worst Witch Mildred Hubble
1987 Poor Little Rich Girl: The Barbara Hutton Story Barbara—Age 12
1991 Deadly Intentions... Again? Stacey
1992 Shame Lizzie Curtis
The Danger of Love: The Carolyn Warmus Story Lisa
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
1999–2000 Family Guy Coco, Connie D'Amico Voice, 2 episodes
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


  1. ^ Benardello, Karen (September 14, 2014). "Interview: Fairuza Balk and Charles Baker Talk August Falls". ShockYa.com. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  2. ^ Baranowski, Jordan (October 16, 2020). "Whatever Happened To Fairuza Balk?". Looper. Retrieved March 27, 2021.
  3. ^ "Fairuza Balk Photos, Gossip, Bio & Reviews". AskMen.com. IGN Entertainment, Inc. 2010. Archived from the original on January 30, 2010. Retrieved August 12, 2010.
  4. ^ Highfill, Samantha (October 16, 2017). "The Craft: Fairuza Balk shuts down those witch rumors". EW.com. Retrieved February 28, 2021.
  5. ^ "Off to the Land of Oz". The Sun. December 6, 1983. p. 35.
  6. ^ "The Wizard of Oz Production Timeline". The Walt Disney Company releases an unofficial sequel to the 1939 film titled Return to Oz and starring Fairuza Balk. The film is not a musical, and is much darker in tone than the 1939 film.
  7. ^ "Independent Spirit Awards Lives Up to Its Name : Movies: Irreverent, annual alternative awards program names 'The Player' as best of 1992". Los Angeles Times. March 29, 1993. Retrieved March 7, 2019.
  8. ^ "INTERVIEW: FAIRUZA | ARMED LOVE MILITIA X MEL SANSON". ferocemagazine.com. October 10, 2018. Retrieved March 5, 2019.[permanent dead link]
  9. ^ "Stormwinds by Armed Love Militia". bandcamp.com. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  10. ^ "Fairuza - music". fairuza.org. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  11. ^ "ARMED LOVE MILITIA (FAIRUZA BALK & MEL SANSON): WHITE LILLIES REVIEW". ferocemagazine.com. September 27, 2018. Archived from the original on March 6, 2019. Retrieved March 5, 2019.
  12. ^ Miller, Bridgette. Frances Bean Cobain & More Create Art That Rocks for MiXTAPE LA Archived September 21, 2013, at the Wayback Machine. Bust (magazine). August 2, 2012.
  13. ^ LA MIXTAPE: AS A GESTURE OF LOVE. L.A. Record. August 3, 2012.
  14. ^ Duran, Amy. IN L.A.: LA MIXTAPE @ LEBASSE PROJECTS CHINA TOWN. juxtapoz magazine. August 20, 2012.
  15. ^ Boilen, Bob (July 14, 2017), "Fragile Rock: Tiny Desk Concert", NPR, retrieved February 15, 2021
  16. ^ "Life in the Fast Lane". Amazon. February 19, 2004.

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