Anna Chlumsky

Anna Chlumsky Headshot

Actress

Birth Date: December 3, 1980

Age: 43 years old

Birth Place: Chicago, Illinois

Anna Chlumsky's run as Hollywood's top female child star began with her scene-stealing portrayal of the loveable mortician's daughter, Vada Sultenfuss, in the 1991 romantic family feature "My Girl." Only 11 years old when she experienced a kind of overnight stardom - and her first onscreen kiss from "My Girl" co-star and fellow child phenomenon, Macauley Culkin - the pouty-lipped young actress with a natural gift for acting and a beauty that belied her age went on to star in the less successful sequel "My Girl 2" (1994), along with appearances in a plethora of movies and television series through the end of the millennium.

Unlike other child stars sucked into the spotlight who outgrew their fame and had nothing left to show for it, the bright actress put her acting career on hold in order to pursue an education - and with it, sacrificing her upward trajectory in Hollywood. After returning to the screen in 2005, she maintained a steady career as a character actress in film and TV before landing a winning supporting role in the political satire "Veep" (HBO 2012- ) - but so winning was her performance as Vada, that her once-in-a-lifetime role guaranteed a certain kind of Hollywood immortality.

Born Dec. 3, 1980 in Chicago, IL, Anna Chlumsky was born into an ambitious family with an odd but prescient tie to Hollywood. Her father was a saxophone player, restaurateur and culinary instructor at Chicago's Kendall College, and her mother worked at Eastern Airlines before becoming her coach and manager. Her great-grandfather reportedly owned a trained bear that had appeared in "Three Stooges" movies.

When Chlumsky was still a toddler, her mother enlisted the youngster with a local modeling agency, after which she modeled off and on for several years, appearing in department store ads and the Sears catalog. She attended grade school at Grace Lutheran Church and School, before attending Walther Lutheran High School. At some point, the beautiful child crossed over beyond the print add, making her feature film debut with a bit part in the family comedy classic "Uncle Buck" (1989), starring a winning John Candy and future child star who would play a big part in the future star's success, a pre-stardom Macaulay Culkin.

It was in 1991 when eleven-year-old Chlumsky's life changed overnight. She beat out hundreds of young girls to portray the precocious Vada Margaret Sultenfuss, in "My Girl," a romantic comedy starring Dan Aykroyd, Jamie Lee Curtis and the then biggest star - forget simply "child" star - in Hollywood, Macaulay Culkin. As the 1970s mortician's daughter who tries to thwart her single father's attempt at love, Chlumsky not only stole the film from an oddly cast Culkin, but became an overnight sensation - despite not even having lead billing. However, unlike her young co-star, Chlumsky still harbored dreams of working with horses or in the field of paleontology, so pursuing acting as the be-all and end-all of her life was never an issue. She allegedly even turned down a role in the family movie "Beethoven" in 1992 because she was unsure of her path as newly minted child star.

After unsuccessfully screen-testing for the role of Lex in the future blockbuster "Jurassic Park" (1993), she was not seen again on screen for three years, halting any upward momentum. In 1994, she starred in the inevitable, Macaulay-less sequel "My Girl 2" and played a lead role in the family fantasy "Trading Mom."

In 1995, Chlumsky appeared in the mystery adventure film "Golddiggers: The Secret of Bear Mountain" (1995), in which the now 15-year-old performed her own stunts alongside Christina Ricci. A few years later, Chlumsky made her television debut in the sport drama movie "A Child's Wish" (CBS, 1997), starring alongside John Ritter and Tess Harper. Her next few onscreen appearances were on television as well; as Gina Weatherby/Field Pea in the film drama "Miracle in the Woods" (CBS, 1997), co-starring Meredith Baxter and Della Reese, and parts on the romantic comedy series "Cupid" (ABC, 1998-99) and the fantasy-drama "Early Edition" (CBS, 1996-2000), both in 1989. Not yet quite 20 years old, Chlumsky decided to take a break from acting to return to school. She attended the University of Chicago where she majored in international studies. While there, she also appeared in theater productions in the school's venue including "Words, Words, Words," "Into the Woods" and "Nine." In 2002, she graduated with a BA, after which she worked as a restaurant guide in Manhattan aspiring to become a food critic. She also found employment as a fact-checker for Zagat Survey and garnered a job as an editorial assistant for a HarperCollins Publishers. However, finding these types of jobs unsatisfying, she decided resume acting again. So serious was she, the onetime former child star pursued formal training at Manhattan's Atlantic Acting School.

Never one to rush things, her next onscreen role came in 2005, when she was cast as Cara, a lead character in the film short "Wait," starring alongside Tyson Beckford and Debi Mazar. That year she also garnered a major role in the play "The Colonel's Holiday" (2005) with the New York theater group the Poor Artists Collective, as well as starred in Lanford Wilson's production, "Balm in Gilead" (2005) at the American Theatre of Actors. From that point, the actress landed a mix of roles in films and on television, including guest parts on the popular NBC drama series "Law & Order" (1990-2010), and the sitcom "30 Rock" (NBC, 2006-2013), as well as a lead role in the comedy horror film "Blood Car" (2007).

Her next most notable appearance was in BBC Films' political satire "In the Loop" (2009) as State Department aide Liza Weld, alongside Peter Capaldi, Tom Hollander, Chris Addison and James Gandolfini. That year she also starred in the off-Broadway production of "Unconditional" (2009) at The Public Theater. From there, the actress appeared in numerous movies including a lead role in the ABC TV film drama "House Rules" (2009), the romantic comedy film "The Good Guy" (2009), and again in a guest-starring role in several episodes of "Cupid." Chlumsky returned to television full time in a supporting role in the Julia Louis-Dreyfus comedy "Veep" (HBO 2012- ); she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress In A Comedy Emmy Award for the show in 2014. She also appeared in a story arc in Bryan Fuller's atmospheric horror series "Hannibal" (NBC 2013-16) before manding a supporting role in the acclaimed David Foster Wallace biopic "The End of the Tour" (2015).

By Ela Lindsay

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