15 Of Those Actresses Who Were In That Show

You know the ones: the actresses you keep seeing in everything and you don’t know their names but you swear you’ve seen her in something else! Firstly, I hope you know Jane Lynch’s name, if not, it’s probably Jane Lynch. Or is it Lili Taylor? Lorraine Toussaint? Double-check, I can wait.

Okay. So: they aren’t ever the lead character, they’re not getting interviewed on talk shows or put on the cover of magazines. They’re not winning huge awards or starting fashion lines or having their relationships invaded on TMZ.

But they keep showing up on our shows!!!

They’re not always playing the queer character — ’cause if they were, we’d know their name — but these actresses all have a knack for showing up on shows that have some kind of queer content or are otherwise on our radar.

1. Aasha Davis

who is that2

Remember when she was: Chelsea on South of Nowhere
And then you saw her in: Pariah

Wherever you are, she is too: breaking Alike’s heart in Pariah, getting preggers in South of Nowhere, trying to keep Smash in line in Friday Night Lights. You’ve spotted her in Criminal Minds, Chasing Life, House, ER, Gilmore Girls and Grey’s Anatomy. She’s also starred in two queer webseries, Nick & Nora and Cowgirl Up; and one not-queer but super-awesome webseries “The Unwritten Rules” about “the comedic realities of a Black Co-Worker in a predominantly white workplace.”

2. Kim Dickens

who is that9

You know her from: She was Saracen’s Mom on Friday Night Lights
Wait is that Saracen’s Mom in: Gone Girl

She’s remarkably versatile but still has such a memorable face. You may know her from her recurring roles on House of Cards, Sons of Anarchy and Treme. I first noticed she was one of those women I saw everywhere when the woman who long-conned Sawyer on Lost showed up on Saracen’s doorstep. Then there she was, not having aged a wink, playing a cop on Gone Girl! She’s also dropped in on White Collar, FlashForward, 12 Miles of Bad Road, Numb3rs and Spin City.

ETA: And apparently she played a lesbian in Deadwood!

3. Adina Porter

who is that

You know her from: Tara’s Mom on True Blood
You were pretty sure that was Tara’s Mom you saw in: The Newsroom, The 100

She played Tara’s mom, Lettie Mae Thornton, on True Blood, and Grounder warrior Indra on The 100, but she’s also shown up in queer favorites like Grey’s Anatomy, Glee, American Horror Story and lesbian classic Gia, in which she played “the girl at group therapy.”

Aside from her gigs on True Blood, The 100The Newsroom and the 2002-2003 series American Dreams, she’s rarely a series regular. That’s given her plenty of time to appear in one or two episodes of every other show in the world: NYPD Blue, Crossing Jordan, ER, CSI:NY, Prison Break, Without a Trace, House M.D., Law and Order SVU, Cold Case, CSI, Saving Grace, Hawthorne, Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior, Private Practice, Ringer, Prime Suspect and The Vampire Diaries.

4. Anne Ramsay

who is that4

You know her as: The first woman who dared to date a post-Marina Jenny on The L Word
But you might also remember her from: A League of Their Own

I’m so consistently surprised when people don’t know who Anne Ramsay is. She has been in EVERYTHING, y’all! She was Jenny’s girlfriend in The L Word. She was an out lesbian Mom on Secret Life Of the American Teenager. She played ball in your favorite not-gay gay movie, A League of Their Own. She was even in my favorite show of all time, Six Feet Under! But if you’re of a certain generation you might know her best from Mad About You. Regardless, it’s impossible to have missed her boat entirely, as she’s played recurring roles on Hart of Dixie, Hawthorne, Dexter, Related, Dharma & Greg, Star Trek: The Next Generation and, most memorably, on Mad About You.

5. Annabeth Gish

who is that1

You know her as: The therapist on Pretty Little Liars
Or maybe: The X-Files, The Bridge

This is a generational situation — if you’re young, you probably saw her for the first time in Pretty Little LiarsIf you’re my age or older, though, you probably have been aware of her for a long time. I mean, she was nominated for a young actress award for Mystic Pizza! Remember Mystic Pizza? The first time I looked her up was when she showed up on The Bridge, and I was like, WHERE DO I KNOW HER FROM. Mhm. Dr. Sullivan, y’all. Also The West Wing, obvs. But you’ve also seen her in The X-Files, Once Upon a Time, Parenthood, Parks & Rec or Sons of Anarchy and movies like Beautiful Girls and SLC Punk!

6. CCH Pounder

who is that13

Recently crossed my radar as: Mrs. Frederic on Warehouse 13

If you already knew this woman’s name than you are a wiser and better human than I am, because she’s one of the most accomplished working actresses of all time and yet I didn’t know her name until today. She’s scored regular roles on NCIS: New Orleans, Sons of Anarchy, Law & Order SVU, The Shield, ER, Women in Prison,  and Brothers. She was featured in Avatar, Face/Off and Orphan and has lent her talent to shows ranging from Cagney & Lacey, The Cosby Show and Hill Street Blues to The Practice, Girlfriends and Revenge.

7. Senta Moses

who is that5

She danced the night away with Rickie on My So-Called Life and I forgot about her entirely ’til she reappeared as Principal Penelope on Faking It. But she was also Kevin McAllister’s cousin in Home Alone! Or maybe you saw her in Rizzoli & Isles, Castle, Greek, Girl Meets World, NCIS, Beckman’s World or Sister, Sister? Her hair has been perfectly curly for ages.

8. Rekha Sharma

who is that18

This woman who is long overdue for a magazine cover: Canadian actress Rekha Sharma has navigated the murky ethical codes of the post-apocalyptic human race in featured roles in The 100 and Battlestar Galactica as well as popping up on Arrow, Supernatural, Once Upon a Time In Wonderland, V, Dark Angel and Smallville. She also allegedly appeared as “Lori” in the first two episodes of The L Word but I can’t find her in it for the life of me.

9. Michelle Hurst

who is that8

You know her from: Orange is the New Black
You saw her again in: Law and Order
and again in: Law and Order
and also one more time in Law and Order

As Stef noted in her epic And Now Every Character From “Orange is the New Black” As They Appear In “Law and Order”, Michelle Hurst has played nine different characters in various shows in the Law & Order franchise. She’s also shown up on queer-friendly shows like Broad City, Last Tango in Halifax, The Good Wife and Sex & The City

10. Kathryn Hahn

who is that6

You know her from: You’ve been thinking that she’s Ana Gasteyer this whole time

She was that rabbi who made the mistake of falling for Josh in Transparent, but she’s also been in Girls, Hung, The Newsroom, Parks & Recreation, Kroll Show and 115 episodes of Crossing Jordan. She looked the most like Ana Gasteyer in We’re the Millers. That picture of her is from Anchorman.

11. Beth Grant

who is that7

Beth Grant has 182 IMDB credits! She’s been in over 70 feature films, appeared in over thirty plays, guested on every television show to ever exist… AND YET. She’s Beverly on The Mindy Project, but you’ve also seen her in Criminal Minds, Friends, Six Feet Under, Sabrina the Teenage Witch, CSI, Everwood, The Secret Life of the American Teenager, The Office, Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, Pushing Daisies and Bones.


12. Amy Hill

who is that10

You might recognize this Japanese-Finnish-American performance artist and actress’ voice moreso than her face, but you probably recognize her face, too, ’cause this woman has been working. I think I first saw her when, at the age of 41, she played Margaret Cho’s 65-year-old grandmother in All-American GirlIn addition to doing voices for Lilo & Stich, Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness, American Dad!, The Legend of Korra, King of The Hill, Kim Possible and The Life and Times of Juniper Lee, she played Judy Harvey in Enlightened, Dr. Laura Brown in General Hospital, Mrs. DePaulo in That’s So Raven and did guest spots on Grey’s Anatomy, Ghost Whisperer, Glee, Law & Order, Arrested Development, The League, Curb Your Enthusiasm, Frasier, Six Feet Under, Without a Trace, Friends, Third Rock From The Sun, The Hughleys, The Closer and Desperate Housewives. Her film work includes 50 First Dates, Cat in the Hat and Next Friday.

13. Justina Machado

who is that11

She was definitely Rico’s better half on Six Feet Under and also has played recurring roles on ER, Goode Behavior, Private Practice, Three Rivers and Welcome to the Family. She also turned up in Season One of The Fosters and has guested on shows including Ugly Betty, Switched at Birth, Desperate Housewives and Kath & Kim.

14. Melora Hardin

who is that12

You know her from: She played Jan on The Office
And weren’t sure where you recognized her from when she showed up as: a lesbian on Transparent

Melora Hardin has 103 credits on IMDB, and is known primarily for The Office and The Hot Chick — but she’s actually been working consistently since she was nine years old. So in addition to popping up on classics like Lois & Clark, Murder She Wrote, Friends, Matlock, Little House on the Prairie, Diff’rent Strokes, The Love Boat, Quantum Leap and starring in the failed 1988 Dirty Dancing TV series, she’s also been busy these days with stuff like Scandal, Wedding Band, Outlaw, Monk, Gilmore Girls and Cover Me. Also she had lesbian sex in Transparent, so.

15. Tina Majorino

who is that16

One of the most notable aspects of this actress’ career is that you’ve maybe accidentally seen everything she’s ever been in, and she hasn’t been in a ton of stuff. Just, you know, stuff like Napoleon Dynamite, Big Love, Grey’s Anatomy, Veronica Mars, True Blood and Bones. She was a child star when I was an aspiring child star, too, turning up in all my favorite films like Andre, Waterworld and Corrina, Corrina. Yet so many people still get her mixed up with Jenna Malone! I feel like she’s one TV show away from the cover of BUST Magazine. Am I the only human on earth who didn’t already know her name, though. Be honest with me.

So, how many of these actresses did you already know?

Before you go! Autostraddle runs on the reader support of our AF+ Members. If this article meant something to you today — if it informed you or made you smile or feel seen, will you consider joining AF and supporting the people who make this queer media site possible?

Join AF+!


Riese is the 41-year-old Co-Founder of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, video-maker, LGBTQ+ Marketing consultant and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York and now lives in Los Angeles. Her work has appeared in nine books, magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nylon, Queerty, Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are! In 2016, she was nominated for a GLAAD Award for Outstanding Digital Journalism. She's Jewish and has a cute dog named Carol. Follow her on twitter and instagram.

Riese has written 3202 articles for us.


  1. – Trivia: Beth Grant plays the same character in three unrelated shows. Marianne Marie Beetle in “Wonderfalls”, “Pushing Daisies”, and “1313 Mockingbird Lane”.
    – I would like to add Jaime Ray Newman. A notable genre actress you might remember her as Dr. Tess Fontana from “Eureka”. She was also in “Grimm”, “Eastwick”, “Castle”, and “Veronica Mars”.

  2. I have definitely looked up Adina, Michelle, Katherine, Beth and Tina, but wouldn’t have been able to come up with their names if you’d asked me. And I deeefinitely have been thinking Katherine was Ana Gasteyer!!!! Also I haven’t thought about Everwood (the best and worst ever) or Waterworld in the longest time. I used to watch Waterworld on a REGULAR BASIS at my childhood bff’s house

  3. I JUST watched an episode of Angel where Beth Grant plays a murderous ghost!

    I recognize A LOT of these actresses. what a validating list!

    • I was just gonna say they left that out! One of my favorite episodes; she was FANTASTIC as the horrible, creepy ghost lady.

    • I was just gonna say they left that out! One of my favorite episodes; she was FANTASTIC as the horrible, creepy ghost lady.
      And Justina Machado was also on an episode of Angel.

      (It’s a little embarrassing how often I can spot people who played minor roles on Buffy or Angel.)

    • Also Justina Machado from this list was in Angel’s season 2 premiere.

      and while she doesn’t fit on this list, it’s always super weird to see Laurel Holloman playing a redheaded vampire hunter as a recurring character.

  4. Thank you for finally telling me who Beth Grant is, this has been bothering me for so much of my life

  5. I can’t believe you left out Beth Grant’s most famous role. I’M BEGINNING TO DOUBT YOUR COMMITMENT TO SPARKLE MOTION, RIESE

  6. Beth Grant is Kitty in Donnie Darko & the pageant director in Little Miss Sunshine! She plays weird really well :D

  7. Don’t forget Deadwood for Kim Dickens. I’d say that’s one of the most memorable roles she played, and she played a lesbian.

    • Deadwood is amazing. It got cancelled when there was still at least one more season planned. There were many stories I wanted to see played out, including the Kim Dickens one. One reason it got cancelled, I read, was because it was really expensive to make. Who knows if that’s true. Also, I guess it wasn’t HBO’s biggest moneymaker. Sigggggh.

  8. CCH POUNDER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I just love her. She’s gorgeous and has such a great dignity/gravitas that I’m surprised she hasn’t had a role as POTUS or something yet.

  9. I definitely appreciate some recognition for the wonders of annabeth Gish. I feel like she always plays a character that is slightly irritated, and slightly irritated brunettes are like my kryptonite.

    • I always remember her for her role in The Last Supper, a weird dark movie about five liberal students who invite right-wing extremists to dinner in order to murder them.

  10. Really proud of myself for knowing the name of/admiring CCH Pounder, that leaves me with a tally of one
    This is an accomplishment for me

  11. finding out that Kathryn Hahn wasn’t Ana Gasteyer fucked me up a couple of months ago. I feel more comfortable thinking that Ana Gasteyer is ageless than knowing that two people who aren’t even related are so similar.

  12. What about Michelle Forbes? She was in The Killing, Battlestar Galactica, True Blood, In Treatment, Orphan Black… I always have to look her up on IMDB. Bonus: she’s a babe.

    • she was totally on my list! i just hadn’t gotten to her by the time it was the time to publish this list. but thank you for validating my instinct.

    • Michelle Forbes is in everything and always plays somebody who creeps me the fuck out. I’m already suspicious of her Returned character.

      • I just can’t stop thinking about her with those crazy black eyeballs that she had in true blood

    • this is a list of actresses whose names you don’t know, so um… i hope that answers your question.

  13. I pity the fool who doesn’t recognise CCH Pounder. In my head she’s irl Amanda Waller and that new 52 imposter is not a thing that happened.

    The only way I can see a person getting Tina Majorino and Jena Malone confused is if they identify people by their hair colour and texture because Jena’s face is just so pointy. Also Jena’s like a tiny shark person and Tina’s like lady teddy bear.

  14. THANK YOU for teaching me the name of Tara’s mom! That one bothered me for all of The Newsroom and The 100.

    I knew 3/15 by name (CCH Pounder!! FOREVER CCH POUNDER!!, Annabeth Gish, and Tina Majorino), but definitely recognized most the faces. And I’m definitely known among my friends as the one who always knows the name “of that one actress, you know, from that one show”. So appreciate further rounding out my collection of useless knowledge :)

    That said, I definitely thought that Kathryn Hahn was Ana Gasteye this whole time.

    Ok, and Justina Machado is soooo pretty! That’s why I always remember her face (she did a season of Grey’s before her stint on Private Practice, plus also The Fosters where she played that super Catholic mom that broke my queer loving heart)

  15. Intellectually, I’ve always known both Ana Gasteyer and Kathryn Hahn exist, but I just now realized that apparently I’ve always thought of them as the same person. Can anybody confirm we don’t have a Clark Kent/Superman situation on our hands?

  16. Kim Dickens and Melora Hardin are among my favorite actors. Michelle Durst is great, and everyone should watch Last Tango In Halifax. CCH Pounder was also in an indie movie in the late 1980s called Baghdad Cafe, takes place in a desert cafe in California. Kathryn Hahn was hilarious in Parks and Recreation. I wish her character in Transparent would stay away from Josh. He is so–ewwwwwww. I love Melora Hardin too. The energy between her and Steve C. in The Office was great.

  17. Yes yes to mixing up Kathryn Hahn and Ana Gesteyer!
    You left out my favourite Tina Marjorino childhood role, as Alice in Wonderland in a ’99 TV movie!

  18. I knew Tammy looked familiar but I had no idea she was Melora Hardin! I also could’ve sworn Tina Majorino was briefly in Itty Bitty Titty Committee but I guess that was Melanie Lynskey. I get those two mixed up.

  19. I never realized how many places I had seen Anne Ramsay before! Thank you for aiding my mental IMDB.

  20. CCH Pounder was also Maxine’s mom on Living Single. I think it was only for one episode but one of my favorite episodes. And Beth Grant was in Donnie Darko and To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything Julie Newmar.

    Oh, and Kathryn Hahn was also in Our Idiot Brother. With Zooey Deschanel and Rashida Jones playing a cute-but-complicated couple (which I think is also a fairly apt description of both of those individuals, in general).

  21. Mad About You. Man, I am officially of a Particular Generation.

    Annabeth Gish always makes me want to rewatch Shag. Please tell me I’m not alone here.

  22. It’s hard for me to imagine people not knowing who Annabeth Gish is; I guess it’s an age thing. She’s been a favorite since Mystic Pizza and I’m so happy she keeps showing up on great TV shows.

  23. Kim Dickens has the lead role on The walking Dead spin-off, Fear the Walking Dead (arghh, the name is sooo wrong).

    Alycia Debnam-Carey will be playing her daughter, and that is the reason why we will not see her much in The 100 (hope that doesn’t happen).

  24. I recognized a lot of this actresses, but did not know any of their names…give me a week and I’ll forget again :P
    I love Kathryn Hahn and Tina Majorino, though.


    She’s in the third episode of the first season, as the girl who approaches Shane at The Planet around 43 minutes in and is interrupted by Tammy Lynn Michaels training the spotlight on Shane!

Comments are closed.