A.J. Langer

Active - 1991 - 2013  |   Born - May 22, 1974 in Columbus, Ohio, United States  |   Genres - Comedy, Drama, Horror, Science Fiction

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Biography by Sandra Brennan

A.J. Langer was intrigued by acting from the age of five, but it was a high school algebra teacher who gave her the little push she needed to get into the business. Langer first found success playing young teens on television, but as she matured, switched to feature films. To millions, she is best known for having played the free-spirited but troubled Rayanne on the short-lived but highly acclaimed ABC drama My So-Called Life (1992-1993).

She was born Allison Joy Langer in Columbus, OH, but raised in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, where her father worked as a retailer of formal wear and her mother, an audiologist, owned a hearing aid business. She received her nickname at age five, when she played on an all-boy little league team. Her teammates thought Allison too girly a name and so shortened it to the cooler-sounding A.J. She entered show business in ninth grade, after the math teacher spotted her during a speech contest. Impressed by Langer's gift for gab, the teacher pulled some strings with an agent and got her signed up. Her first role was that of Melissa Drexell, Dabney Coleman's daughter in the short-lived Fox sitcom Drexell's Class (1991-1992). The same year, she made her feature film debut playing Alice in Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1992). Langer was also busy making television guest-starring appearances on series such as Blossom and The Wonder Years, and playing small roles in a few television movies.

Portraying Rayanne Graff on My So-Called Life made Langer a cult figure among the show's many youthful fans. With all the work she obtained, she dropped out of high school, but she later earned a General Equivalency Diploma. Following the demise of the show, Langer co-starred with Kurt Russell in Escape From L.A. (1996), playing the mayor's kidnapped daughter Utopia, and then played a supporting role in Meet the Deedles (1998).

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Factsheet

  • Acquired the nickname "A.J." because she was the only girl on her little-league baseball team and it sounded less girly to her teammates.
  • Began her showbiz career in the ninth grade when her algebra teacher introduced her to an agent.
  • Her first role was in the 1991 Fox sitcom Drexell's Class.
  • Also in 1991, she made her film debut in The People Under the Stairs.
  • Played wild child Rayanne Graff on ABC's My So-Called Life (1992-93).
  • Her husband, Charles Courtenay, is the son and heir of the Earl of Devon, making her son second in line to the English title "Lord Devon."
  • Enjoys surfing.
  • Having suffered from fibromyalgia since she was 12, she works to raise awareness and money for research and treatment for the disease.