Long before she was an inmate with a loud mouth in a women's federal prison on the hit Netflix series, Orange Is the New Black, Natasha Lyonne was a teen starlet among crop of young stars taking over Hollywood with a burst of teen films in the late-'90s. She shared the screen with a number stars-in-the-making, including Jason Biggs, Tara Reid, Seann William Scott, all of whom she co-starred with in American Pie, before carving out her own place in Hollywood.
Similarly, Clea DuVall also appeared in a number of popular teen flicks, including Can't Hardly Wait and She's All That, before siging up for But I'm a Cheerleader.
And while both of them had roles in several mainstream hits, But I'm a Cheerleader — about a cheerleader (Lyonne) who is sent to conversion therapy when her family is convinced she's a lesbian — was definitely a step in a different direction. The movie, which has since become a cult classic, was pushing the boundaries just as popular TV shows and films were exploring gay characters for what felt like the first time. Yet, everyone involved in the project knew it wasn't going for the American Pie audience.
"It would be fun to do the cover of Seventeen for this movie," Lyonne told Out at the time — she and DuVall did land on the cover of the July 2000 issue. "If kids in high school would see this movie and feel comfortable about falling for a person, and it's irrelevant what sex they're falling for, that would be the ultimate response to the movie."
Mainstream may have been out, but having a message was still in.
Fourteen years after the movie landed with a thud in theaters, the landscape in entertainment has changed. In addition to playing a lesbian on OITNB, Lyonne revisited the teen flick world as a guidance counselor in G.B.F., a gay high school comedy about coming out, while DuVall joined Ryan Murphy's American Horror Story — making these actresses, once again, the girls, err, women of the summer.