Laryssa Lauret (aka. Laryssa Lysniak, 1939-2015) was an American actress of Ukrainian descent. She portrayed Pavla in Orange is the New Black. She died on July 5, 2015 in New York, New York, USA, aged 75.
Lauret was born in Warsaw, Poland in 1932. In the aftermath of the Second World War, after a brief stop in an Austrian displaced persons (DP) camp (most likely Landeck), her family found themselves in a DP camp near Munich, Germany from where, with only baggage in hand, they made their way to New York on August 3rd, 1947.
Always an outstanding academic student, Laryssa graduated from Textile High School in Manhattan, and was admitted to Hunter College where she graduated with a Bachelor in Fine Arts degree. She then pursued a graduate degree from Columbia University, graduating as a Master of Fine Arts. She pursued some painting and sculpting, creating several works in each media.
She began her acting studies as a child in Austria studying at the Saltzburg Theater and Film Institute and continued in New York with the Hirniak and Dobrovolska Studio - highly regarded in the Ukrainian expat community - as well as under the tutelage of Lee Strasburg's Actor's Studio and Uta Hagen's well known Herbert Berghof Studio. Under Hirniak's and Dobrowolska's tutelage and mentoring she appeared in several Ukrainian plays directed by them, starting at age twelve.
After marrying Wolodymyr Lysniak, who studied theatre at Columbia and directing at Yale, she starred as Lady Anna in Kaminnyi Hospodar (1966), directed by Wolodymyr (a.k.a. Walter) at the Experimental Ukrainian Theater Group. At that time, she also starred in The Exhibit, a play that she wrote, played Maria in Fated and also appeared in Famine under the mentorship and direction of her husband.
It was at this stage of her life that she also penned another play, Restitution, about an emigrant family crisis due to clashes between traditional Ukrainian versus more contemporary American values. Along with her husband, who is a well-known director in his own right in the Ukrainian American community, she often performed dramatic readings at various Ukrainian events. She was often heard on the Voice of America and Svoboda radio programs, which were transmitted to Soviet Ukraine.
Laryssa's acting resume is even broader, beginning with Broadway, where she appeared as Hellevi in Paris is Out, as Hilda in Tennessee Williams' The Night of the Iguana and as Natasha in Julia, Jake and Uncle Joe.
In film, Laryssa appeared in the Film Noir Encounter, in The Prude and La Parisienne with Dom de Louise, and in what some know as her her finest film role, as the female lead, Lista, in the Warner Bros. film Everything is Illuminated with Elijah Wood, directed by Liev Schreiber (2005).
She was also well known for her TV work, as for over ten years she portrayed Dr. Karen Werner on the NBC-TV soap opera series The Doctors, and for two years she portrayed Simone Morey on the CBS-TV soap opera series The Guiding Light. Laryssa also made many appearances on The Alcoa Hour, The U.S. Steel Hour and The Catholic Hour. Off Broadway she was even more active, appearing at various theaters in HUNGER, THE EXHIBIT, Don Juan, The Chair, Creditors, One-Eyed Man is King, The Doomed, Trojan Women, Forest Song, The Boor, Minna Von Barnhelm and in Name Day (2005) at the Barrow Theatre. In summer stock she played in Marriage-Go-Round, Boeing Boeing, Skin of Our Teeth and Music at Night. In regional theater she starred as the Dowager Empress, Maria Feodorovna, in Anastasia, as the Grand Duchess, Olga Katrina in You Can't Take It With You, as Miss Liz Truesdale in Murder Takes the Stage (all in 2001-2004), and as Baroness Lemberg in White Liars (2009).
In addition, Laryssa appeared in the made-for-TV-Movie, Who Was Bernie Block? (2006), in a movie short, Crumbs (2007) and as Trudy in Gods Behaving Badly (2013) with Sharon Stone (shown at the Rome Film Festival in 2013, unreleased).
Lauret died on July 5, 2015, in New York. At the time of her death, she was married to her husband of over fifty years, Wolodymyr Lysniak. With Lysniak, Lauret had two daughters, Ula and Lada. She is survived by them all and also her sister, Tamara K. Homer.