Why Hollywood won't cast Larisa Oleynik anymore

Many '90s kids remember Nickelodeon's The Secret World of Alex Mack (1994-98). The series starred Larisa Oleynik as the title character—an average kid who acquires magical powers after an accident. Oleynik went on to land successful supporting roles in popular '90s movies such as The Baby-Sitters Club (1995) and 10 Things I Hate About You (1999) but as the decade concluded, so too did her stardom. Why won't Hollywood cast this former child star anymore? We've cracked the code.

She's seems content with guest-starring roles

Oleynik has not snagged a main part in television or movies in years. According to Entertainment Weekly, she guest-starred on Psych, Without a Trace, and the wildly successful Mad Men, where she played Ken Cosgrove's fiancée. She told AMC.com that her role in the period drama was a huge thrill. "I'm such a nerd for the show, and obviously I've done a lot of TV guest work, but this is the first time I've gone into a show just being such a huge fan and having seen every single episode—with commentary—probably three times."

In 2011, she snagged a recurring role on Hawaii Five-O as Jessica Kaye, an ex-CIA analyst who helps Steve McGarrett track down his archenemy. In 2012, she started appearing on Pretty Little Liars, and in 2016, she landed in an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit opposite stars Mariska Hargitay and Ice-T. Those are all pretty good gigs, but at the time of this writing, they still haven't led to any dazzling opportunities.

Perhaps Oleynik is content with guest-starring roles and doesn't want to dive back into Hollywood full-time, or perhaps she's trying but just hasn't been able to connect the dots. She told AMC, "When people recognize me from Mad Men specifically, it's just the coolest feeling…I don't really know if I'm being seen differently, but I know that, just in terms of confidence, it has helped immensely…After a long round of trying to establish myself as an adult actor…I was like, 'Yes! They don't hire bad actors on Mad Men.' It was huge sigh of relief."

She may be leery of fame after some scary moments

Oleynik may be keeping a low profile due to some truly frightening experiences. In 2013 she got a restraining order against a man by the name of Josh Hathaway "who was so obsessed he changed his last name to Oleynik" to "build a relationship" with her, reported TMZ. In court documents, Larisa said the trouble began in 2012 when he started calling her mother incessantly, leaving gifts at her mother's home, and discussing marriage, the tab reported. "I feel that I am being stalked," she said in the legal filing (via TMZ). "I am worried he is unstable and could snap at any moment." That kind of ordeal could certainly drive an actress underground.

She's hiding in the indie movie scene

Oleynik has two independent film projects scheduled to debut in 2017. The first, Animal Among Us, is a horror flick about the search for the campground killer of two teenage girls. The other movie, Accommodations, is a comedy about a couple of well-to-do New Yorkers who rents their loft on Airbnb to many colorful characters as they search for meaning in their lives. Indie movies notoriously don't garner as much mainstream exposure, so investing in that scene may not be in Oleynik's best interest if she wants to break back into those A-list circles.

She did her first Lifetime holiday movie

Lifetime made-for-TV movies are often stereotyped as a place for thespians whose careers are on the way out. That sounds harsh, but the has-been theory is a common industry sentiment. Oleynik starred in her Lifetime holiday movie, Wish Upon a Christmas, in 2015. The film tells the story of an actuary who heads to her hometown to close down a factory and (surprise!) runs into her high school sweetheart.

While starring in a Lifetime original movie isn't exactly the best way to make it big in Hollywood, Oleynik's flick did earn some praise. According to a review in the Inquisitr, "In the last 30 years, many cities have seen a decline in factory work…Themes dealing with unemployment, layoffs, family-owned businesses, and love and romance are just a few of the subjects that make this timeless movie relatable."

She's not active on social media

It's easy for celebs to keep their fans invested through social media, but Oleynik has not nurtured a strong following online. She doesn't have a public Facebook, and though she does have a Twitter account, at the time of this writing, it had not been updated in nearly eight months. Her Instagram showing was also weak.

In comparison, fellow '90s stars such as Jodie Sweetin of Full House and Danielle Fishel of Boy Meets World have capitalized on '90s nostalgia while also introducing themselves to new fans and promoting new projects through social media. Oleynik could follow suit to bolster her fan base and stoke interest among industry insiders.

She's stuck in the '90s

Though we'd love to see Oleynick more active on social media, it's important that her online presence does more than just reflect on the past. At the time of this writing, her meager Instagram offerings were overloaded with throwbacks, including a cast picture from The Baby-Sitters Club and a group photo with her co-stars from 10 Things I Hate About You. She even retweeted a commercial for Koosh Lings, the popular, rubbery, squishy, ball-shaped creatures of the '90s.

She shunned Hollywood at her peak

The Secret World of Alex Mack was never canceled. It ended because Oleynik walked away. According to The Huffington Post, the show's co-creator, Thomas Lynch, "presented Oleynik, her mom and her manager with a package for a fifth season of the show, a feature film and 'a ton of money' at a swanky Hollywood dinner and Oleynik turned him down."

"I have absolutely no regrets about that," Oleynik told The Huffington Post. "It was an incredible thing he was offering me and I knew that at the time, but I was a little burnt out." The young actress wanted to focus on her education while also avoiding some of the adult themes slated for the fifth season. "For me, [Mack] was starting to grow up and that last season, she gets a boyfriend…I just kind of wanted to keep it innocent," she said.

What's done is done, and we applaud Oleynik for honoring her values. That said, one can't help but wonder: if Mack had lived on for another season or two and matured on screen, would Hollywood have been more open to accepting her as a leading lady?

How she can turn it around

From Fuller House (2016-) to Girl Meets World (2014-) and even Will and Grace, it seems like every TV show is getting a reboot these days. Why not create an Alex Mack 2.0.? That kind of venture is tricky because Oleynik's image clearly needs to break out of the '90s, but at this point, a starring role—even a nostalgic one—could work wonders for her career. If she can score a reboot and find some success in one of her aforementioned indie films, Oleynik's resume would quickly shift from stale to exciting.

Though her online presence is subpar, there's a silver lining to that, too. Her reputation is a clean slate: no messy relationships splashed across the tabloids, no feuds with other celebrities, no foot-in-mouth Twitter moments, or controversial selfies. She'll still need to dive into the scene to promote herself, but she has the potential to shape her comeback and turn it around in Hollywood.