Mia Kirshner (born January 25, 1975) is a Canadian actress, writer and social activist who works in movies and television series. She is known for her role as Jenny Schecter on the cable TV series The L Word (2004–2009), and for her recurring guest role as the terrorist Mandy on the TV series 24 (2001–2005).

Early life

Kirshner was born in Toronto, Ontario, the daughter of Etti, a teacher, and Sheldon Kirshner, a journalist who wrote for The Canadian Jewish News.[1][2] Kirshner is a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors;[3] her father was born in a displaced persons camp in Germany in 1946, and met Kirshner's mother, a Bulgarian Jewish refugee, in Israel.[3] Kirshner's paternal grandparents were Jews from Poland.[4][5] Kirshner had a middle class upbringing[6] and attended Forest Hill Collegiate Institute but later graduated from the Jarvis Collegiate Institute. Kirshner studied Russian literature and 20th-century movie industry at McGill University in Montreal. Her younger sister, Lauren Kirshner, a writer, was involved in the I Live Here project.[7]


Kirshner found a talent agent at the age of 12, and was acting professionally by the age of 15.[citation needed] She made her film debut in 1993 in Denys Arcand's Love and Human Remains. She convinced her father to sign a "nudity waiver" to play a dominatrix.[8] Kirshner won a Genie nomination for Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role.[citation needed] The following year, she starred in Atom Egoyan's Exotica. In 1996, she appeared in The Crow: City of Angels.

Kirshner also appeared in the first three episodes of 24 as the assassin Mandy in 2001. She would later reprise the role for the second season's finale and in the latter half of the show's fourth season.[citation needed] Also in 2001, Kirshner played Catherine Wyler, The Cruelest Girl in School, in Not Another Teen Movie. The character is primarily a spoof of Kathryn Merteuil (played by Sarah Michelle Gellar) in Cruel Intentions, and was partially based on Mackenzie Siler (played by Anna Paquin) from She's All That. In Marilyn Manson's music video for "Tainted Love", which was featured on the movie's soundtrack, she made a cameo appearance as her character Catherine Wyler.

In 2004, Kirshner was cast as author Jenny Schecter, a main character in the drama series The L Word. She remained with the show for all of the show's six seasons through 2009.[9]

In 2006, she starred in Brian De Palma's The Black Dahlia in which she plays the young aspiring actress, Elizabeth Short, who was mysteriously mutilated and murdered in 1947. While the film itself was critically panned, many reviews singled out her performance for acclaim.[10][11][12][13]Stephanie Zacharek of Salon.com, in a largely negative review, notes that the eponymous character was "played wonderfully by Mia Kirshner..."[10] Mick LaSalle wrote that Kirshner "makes a real impression of the Dahlia as a sad, lonely dreamer, a pathetic figure."[11] J. R. Jones described her performance as "haunting" and that the film's fictional screen tests "deliver the emotional darkness so lacking in the rest of the movie."[12] In 2010, Kirshner co-starred in the film 30 Days of Night: Dark Days which began filming in the fall of 2009.[14] In 2010, she was cast as Isobel Flemming, a guest role on The Vampire Diaries.[9]

In 2011, she voiced the title character in Bear 71, a National Film Board of Canada web documentary that premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.[15][16]

On April 20, 2012, it was announced that Kirshner would join the new Syfy series Defiance.[17]

On October 9, 2013, it was mentioned on the Showcase blog that Kirshner would be one of several guest stars in season four of the television series Lost Girl.[18]


In October 2008, after seven years in production,[19] Kirshner published the book I Live Here,[20] which she co-produced with ex-Adbusters staffers Paul Shoebridge and Michael Simons,[21] as well as writer James MacKinnon. In the book, four different groups of women and children refugees from places such as Chechnya, Juárez, Burma and Malawi tell their life stories. The book features original material from well-known comic and graphic artists including Joe Sacco and Phoebe Gloeckner. It was published in the U.S. by Random House/Pantheon. It was supported logistically by Amnesty International, which will receive proceeds from the book. After the release of the book, the Center for International Studies at MIT invited Kirshner to run a 4-week course on I Live Here in January 2009.[22]

In popular culture

Kirshner was ranked #43 on the Maxim Hot 100 Women of 2002.[23] She and Beverly Polcyn were nominated for Best Kiss at the 2002 MTV Movie Awards for Not Another Teen Movie.[24] In 2011 it was announced that Kirshner would be the face of Monica Rich Kosann's jewelry collection.


Kirshner in September 2009, during interview


Year Title Role Notes
1993 Love and Human Remains Benita
Cadillac Girls Page
1994 Exotica Christina
1995 Murder in the First Adult Rosetta Young
Grass Harp, TheThe Grass Harp Maude Riordan
1996 Crow: City of Angels, TheThe Crow: City of Angels Sarah
1997 Anna Karenina Princess Yekaterina Alexandrovna Shcherbatsky, "Kitty"
Mad City Laurie Callahan
1999 Saturn Sarah
Out of the Cold Deborah Berkowitz
2000 James Draminski James Draminski Short film
Innocents Dominique Denright
Cowboys and Angels Candice
2001 Century Hotel Dominique
According to Spencer Melora
Not Another Teen Movie Catherine Wyler
2002 New Best Friend Alicia Campbell
Now & Forever Angela Wilson
2003 Party Monster Natasha
2005 Iris Effect, TheThe Iris Effect Rebecca
2006 The Black Dahlia Elizabeth Short
2008 Miss Conception Clem
2010 30 Days of Night: Dark Days Lilith Video
2011 388 Arletta Avenue Amy
2012 Barrens, TheThe Barrens Cynthia Vineyard
2013 I Think I Do Julia


Year Title Role Notes
1989 War of the Worlds Jo Episode: "Loving the Alien"
1990 Danger Bay Catherine Walker Episode: "Live Wires"
1990–1991 Dracula: The Series Sophie Metternich 21 episodes
1991 My Secret Identity Alana Porter Episode: "My Other Secret Identity"
1991 Tropical Heat Cathy Paige Episode: "Runaway"
1992 Tropical Heat Sandy Episode: "Stranger in Paradise"
1992 Road to Avonlea Emily Everett-Smythe Episode: "High Society"
1992 Are You Afraid of the Dark? Pam Pease / Dora Pease Episode: "The Tale of the Hungry Hounds"
1995 Johnny's Girl Amy Ross TV film
2001–2005 24 Mandy 7 episodes
2001–2002 Wolf Lake Ruby Cates 9 episodes
2004–2009 L Word, TheThe L Word Jenny Schecter Main role (70 episodes)
2007 They Come Back Faith Hardy TV film
2009 Cleaner, TheThe Cleaner April May Episode: "Does Everybody Have a Drink?"
2009 CSI: NY Deborah Carter Episode: "Dead Reckoning"
2010–present Vampire Diaries, TheThe Vampire Diaries Isobel Flemming 6 episodes
2012 Kiss at Pine Lake Zoe McDowell TV film
2013 Surrogacy Trap, TheThe Surrogacy Trap Christy Bennett TV film
2013 Graceland Ashika Pearl Episode: "Pizza Box"
2013–present Defiance Kenya Rosewater 15 episodes
2013 Lost Girl Clio 3 episodes
2014 Reluctant Witness Erin Villenueve TV film, pre-production
2015 Bloodline Sarah Rayburn[25]

Video Games

Year Title Role Notes
2006 24: The Game Mandy (Voice)


  1. ^ "Mia Kirshner surprised by character in 'Mad City' film". News Tribune. 1997-11-15. Retrieved 2007-12-12. 
  2. ^ "Defiant actor has impressive goals - The Canadian Jewish News". Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  3. ^ a b "Mia Kirshner basks in an erotic mystery". Thelwordonline.com. 2004-04-05. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  4. ^ "Film Rap: Mia Kirshner – I Live Here". The Warren Report. 2008-11-26. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  5. ^ Kirshner, Sheldon (2009-08-19). "Buildings in the former Lodz Ghetto still stand". Canadian Jewish News. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  6. ^ Aurthur, Kate (2008-10-19). "Mia Kirshner backs up her commitment". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2009-10-19. 
  7. ^ "'Give yourself permission to write'". the Varsity (University of Toronto). 2009-09-24. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  8. ^ Pfefferman, Naomi (March 16, 2009). "Mia Kirshner Documents A Different ‘L’ Word: Living". Baltimore Jewish Times. Retrieved June 8, 2014. 
  9. ^ a b Ausiello, Michael (December 21, 2009). "Exclusive: 'Vampire Diaries' lures 'L Word' babe Mia Kirshner". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved May 18, 2010. 
  10. ^ a b Stephanie Zacharek (2006-09-15). "The Black Dahlia". Salon.com. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  11. ^ a b Mick LaSalle (2006-09-15). "'Black Dahlia' may look good, but it's noir lite". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  12. ^ a b J. R. Jones (2006-08-29). "The Black Dahlia". Chicago Reader. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  13. ^ Timothy Brayton (2007-09-18). "In This Corner: The Most Notorious Unsolved Murder In California History". Antagony & Ecstasy. Retrieved 2011-08-29. 
  14. ^ "BD's Got Your '30 Days of Night: Dark Days' Casting!". Bloody-disgusting.com. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  15. ^ Monk, Katherine. "Sundance: Interactive film, Bear 71, blurs lines between wild and wired". canada.com (Postmedia News). Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  16. ^ Makarechi, Kia (24 January 2012). "'Bear 71': Interactive Film At Sundance Tells Dark Side Of Human Interaction With Wildlife". Huffington Post. Retrieved 25 January 2012. 
  17. ^ Nellie Andreeva. "Mia Kirshner And Fionnula Flanagan Join Syfy Series 'Defiance'". Deadline. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  18. ^ "Showcase". Showcase. Retrieved 22 April 2015. 
  19. ^ "Tavis Smiley Show". Tavis Smiley Show – Mia Kirshner. December 16, 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  20. ^ "I Live Here Foundation". I-live-here.com. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  21. ^ "The Goggles". The Goggles. Retrieved 2010-08-19. 
  22. ^ "MIT CIS: IAP 2009, I Live Here, Mia Kirshner". IAP COURSE: I Live Here—A Human Rights Multimedia Project. Retrieved 2009-12-31. 
  23. ^ "FreeJose.com". Maxim Magazine Hot 100 Women of 2002. Retrieved April 19, 2007. 
  24. ^ "About.com". Best Kiss nomination, 2002 MTV Movie Awards. Retrieved June 1, 2007. 
  25. ^ Kumari Upadhyaya, Kayla (March 25, 2015). "Bloodline: Part 5 (Season 1, Episode 5)". AV Club.