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Why Lena Parkova From Law & Order Looks So Familiar

In 1990, NBC released "Law & Order," a police procedural and legal drama set in New York City. Created by Dick Wolf, the series follows a revolving door of actors (30-plus years of content is more than enough justification to change the guard from time to time), some of which include Jerry Orbach, Jesse L. Martin, S. Epatha Merkerson, and Leslie Hendrix. "Law & Order" famously spawned an unprecedented number of spin-off productions, the most successful of which is "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," which is also set in the Big Apple and is still on the air. Dick Wolf cannot be stopped — he's simply too powerful. 

Back in 2003, the Season 13 episode "House Calls" focused on Lena Parkova, a young Russian woman whose flimsy understanding of the English language exacerbates a problem caused by a malignant doctor who plays fast and loose with potentially addictive and unquestionably lethal drug prescriptions. While this was not her first role, the actress who played Lena was just starting out in what had turned out to be a lucrative decade.

Although her acting credits seemingly slowed down to a steady crawl in the 2010s, the actress in question, Alexis Dziena, has had her share of noteworthy roles through the years. Let's take a stroll through her career to see where she's been, what she's done, and where viewers may draw an interstitial line of recognition. 

Alexis Dziena played an impressionable teen in She's Too Young

The following entry contains discussions of the sexual behavior of teenagers, as well as discussions of sexually transmitted diseases.  

In 2004, Lifetime released "She's Too Young," an American Made-For-TV movie. The story therein is a drama inspired by a notable syphilis outbreak in 1996 that affected over 200 teenagers in Atlanta, Georgia (as noted by PBS, "Frontline" covered the event in sobering detail). The movie follows Hannah Vogel (Alexis Dziena), a 14-year-old high school student who's pressured into sexual activity by her peers. This coercion leads to Hannah suffering from a sexually transmitted disease and from the breakdown of her relationship with her religious parents, Trish and Bill Vogel (Marcia Gay Harden and Gary Hudson, respectively), with whom she shares no honest communication. 

The film is intended to serve as a socially informed public service announcement, a purpose which is hammered home by the ending, which features Dziena, as herself, cautioning teenagers to abstain from sexual activity until they're physically and emotionally mature enough to handle the varying and complex ramifications. This PSA does not appear as part of the film on modern streaming sites such as Tubi

"She's Too Young" was not received well, with the critical consensus being that the film languished beneath its heavy-handed moral. In this way, it's just another Lifetime movie, and Dziena delivered exactly what is promised by the genre, if not just a bit more. 

She was an inquisitive teen in Invasion

In 2005, ABC released "Invasion," an American science fiction series which received two seasons before ending in early 2006. In broad strokes, the show follows a group of small-town Floridians in the wake of a devastating hurricane. These poor survivors quickly discover that something is amiss ... and that the something in question is a predatory species of water-based aliens that parasitically merge with and then subsequently replace human beings. The series is intentionally tangential to "Invasion of the Body Snatchers," in case that wasn't apparent yet. The main ensemble cast included William Fichtner, Eddie Cibrian, Kari Matchett, Lisa Sheridan, Tyler Labine, Alexis Dziena, Evan Peters and Ariel Gade.

"Invasion" was originally designed to air for five seasons and, despite what the early cancelation might imply, the series was beloved by everyone. Seriously, the critics adored it, the audiences loved it, and even the creative team apparently knew that what they had created was a treasure. All these years later, the production is still sitting pretty with solid Rotten Tomatoes scores that, across the board, indicate a positive response. For her part, Alexis Dziena portrays Kira Underlay, the daughter of Tom (Fichtner), a sheriff who investigates suspicious alien activity. Essentially, she spends the entire series snooping around problems that could very easily kill her and then proceeds to not die about it. In short, she's a typical, fictional teenager. 

She played a dissatisfied woman in Sex and Breakfast

In 2007, First Look Pictures released "Sex and Breakfast," an independent American dark comedy film. The story follows two couples, James and Heather (Macaulay Culkin and Alexis Dziena, respectively) and Ellis and Renee (Kuno Becker and Eliza Dushku), as they seek out couples therapy to solve their relationship issues. Dr. Wellbridge (Joanna Miles), their therapist, recommends partner swapping and group sex as a method to foster emotional and physical bonding. The subsequent antics lead to Ellis and Eliza rekindling their relationship but to James and Heather breaking up. 

To say that "Sex and Breakfast" was not received well would be an understatement. The film seemingly failed as both a salacious and introspective viewing experience, thereby dissatisfying every possible audience member.  But on the kinder end of the spectrum, The Hollywood Reporter labeled Dziena's work as effective within the confines of a one-dimensional role, but that same review admittedly boils her — and Dushku, too — down to a "luscious camera subject," which just feels ... gross.

She played the daughter of wealth in Fool's Gold

In 2008, Warner Bros. released "Fool's Gold," an American action romantic comedy. In broad strokes, the story follows a recently divorced couple that rekindles their lost love through a dangerous treasure hunt. The film stars Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson as Ben "Finn" Finnegan and Tess Finnegan, respectively, the couple with a need for adrenaline-infused marriage counseling. This movie contains no surprises; it's a romcom from the 2000s, after all. The couple bickers, then they work together while worse people are shooting at them, and that sparks a bond that allows them to find the lost treasure. In the afterglow of their success, Finn and Tess get back together and have happy little rich people babies.  

In "Fool's Gold," Alexis Dziena portrays Gemma Honeycutt, the daughter of a multi-millionaire. To put it simply, Gemma is not bright. Her spirit is in the right place but, as a child born into extreme wealth, she's never really had to think, so she doesn't. Nor, it seems, did the creative team behind the romantic comedy, as the film was not received well by any stretch of the imagination. There's no evidence to support claiming this as the emotional turning point for McConaughey's relationship with romcoms, but he only did one more afterward, so ... 

She was a horrible ex in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist

Also in 2008, Sony released the romantic comedy-drama "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist." A rom-com drama. A romantic dramedy? The point is that Sony released a movie based on David Levithan and Rachel Cohn's novel of the same name. In broad strokes, the story follows Nick (Michael Cera) and Norah (Kat Dennings) on a whirlwind evening of accidental romance and excessive awkwardness. Nick is a young musician getting over his horrible ex, Tris (Alexis Dziena), and Norah is the music-loving daughter of a wealthy producer. In short, this movie is the quintessential definition of adorkable. Alongside Cera, Dennings, and Dziena, the film features the talents of Ari Graynor, Aaron Yoo, Rafi Gavron, Jonathan B. Wright, and Jay Baruchel. 

In "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist," Dziena's Tris is comically evil. Reviews rarely discuss her as they, along with the film, focus their lenses on Cera and Dennings' budding romance. Perhaps that is an act of kindness because the general consensus seems to be that "Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist" is charming but wholly forgettable in that what it does best, other movies do better. 2008 just wasn't a great year for dramatic com- actually ... this joke is already old. Let's talk about something else.  

She portrayed another questionable ex-girlfriend in Entourage

In 2004, HBO released "Entourage," an American dramedy (and we're already back to this, huh?) series that received eight seasons and ended in 2011. In broad strokes, the story follows Vincent Chase (Adrian Grenier), a young, A-list actor and celebrity, as he and his friends strive to improve their careers and social status. The series is loosely inspired by Mark Wahlberg's personal journey through Hollywood as a young adult. There are notable differences between Wahlberg's experiences and Chase's, however, as Chase does not commit numerous, violent, racially charged hate crimes. For the morbidly curious, Consequence chronicles Wahlberg's whole, wretched activities. It's difficult to take this show seriously, what with the whole Wahlberg issue, but if Rotten Tomatoes is correct, then both critics and audiences enjoyed it, with audiences enjoying it just a little bit more.

On a brighter note, "Entourage" features a massive amount of celebrity guest talent, most of whom portray fictional variants of their public personas. From Scarlett Johansson to Sasha Grey (yes, THAT Sasha Grey) and Mark Cuban to LeBron James, the list is genuinely staggering. In the 6th season, for eight episodes, Alexis Dziena portrayed Ashley, the unhinged ex-girlfriend of Eric Murphy (Kevin Connolly). Given the nature of "Entourage" as a male power fantasy, Ashley is exactly what one might think: she's jealous and possessive over a man who isn't hers, and her entire presence is relegated to pumping up Murphy's worth as a "rational" man.