An unknown actress with experience in the theater and improv, Heather Donahue jump-started her movie career as one of the three ill-fated filmmakers in the 1999 horror sensation The Blair Witch Project. After studying acting, doing theater in her hometown of Philadelphia, and appearing on stage in London and New York, Donahue's improv skills were put to unusual use in The Blair Witch Project. Cast as the pushy director of the eponymous documentary, Donahue, along with costars Joshua Leonard and Michael Williams, only received brief instructions from directors Eduardo Sanchez and Daniel Myrick about what their character were to do, and took turns wielding the film's 16mm and video cameras. Shot on a minute budget, screened at midnight at the Sundance Film Festival, and inventively marketed as a "real" documentary with an Internet site detailing the legend, The Blair Witch Project became an unexpected summer blockbuster. The ultra-low tech visual aesthetic, unseen terrors, and the cast's palpable -- and occasionally genuine -- fear petrified audiences and spawned the almost-inevitable comic parodies. Donahue's tear-stained, close-up apology/confessional in particular inspired numerous take-offs. After her initial cinematic success, Donahue returned to multiplex screens as part of the supporting cast in the teen-targeted college romance Boys and Girls (2000).
Biography by Lucia Bozzola
- Was a founding member of improvisational comedy group Red Shag, and was part of the experimental Collision Theory Theater Company.
- Received much backlash after the release of The Blair Witch Project, the ad campaign of which aimed to mislead audiences; and found tremendous difficulty getting work.
- Published her book Growgirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went to Pot in January 2012.
- Was a frequent HuffPost blog contributor.
- Co-created and produced an independent TV pilot called The High Country in 2015.