What The Girl Who Played Vada In My Girl Looks Like Now

Anna Chlumsky was just 10 years old when she was cast in the 1991 film "My Girl," alongside an all-star cast like Jamie Lee Curtis, Macaulay Culkin, and Dan Aykroyd. It was only her second professional acting role, but she quickly shot to fame as Vada, the young girl with an unhealthy death obsession. As a child, Chlumsky continued acting but never quite found the same success as she had in her breakout role. By the time she reached early adulthood, she had grown tired of the industry. So, she left it behind for a college degree and an office job. However, her passion for acting never subsided and, in 2007 after an almost decade-long hiatus, she returned.

Since then, Chlumsky has slowly begun to shed her reputation as the endearingly morbid Vada. With roles in HBO's "Veep" and Netflix's "Inventing Anna," she has now built a new profile for herself. Chances are, you now know her not as "Vada from 'My Girl,'" but simply as "Anna Chlusmky." 

Read on to learn a little more about Chlusmky's journey from child stardom to slow and steady television success.

Anna Chlumsky shot to fame after starring in My Girl

Anna Chlumsky's first steps into child stardom began when she was still a young child, appearing in her first ad at just 10 months old. Her first acting role came in 1989 when the then nine-year-old played an unnamed school child in John Candy's "Uncle Buck." Two years later, she landed her big break with "My Girl," the touching drama about a troubled child and her single father. 

The role brought the young Chlumsky instant fame. Suffice to say, it was a shock. "I think about how everyone dreams about being a star in the movies, and sometimes I, um, I enjoy it," she said tentatively to Cinema Showcase at the time. "And sometimes I just want to enjoy my privacy, too."

Looking back, Chlumsky sees the dark side of the media's obsession with her as a child. "When I was a child [reliability and security] did not exist, because I was for sale," she said simply to the Independent.

As a child star, Anna Chlumsky felt huge amounts of pressure

While many young girls may dream of stardom, the reality can often be bleak. For Anna Chlumsky, growing up in the public eye proved to be far from easy. "When you suddenly put professional, financial, adult and public — often sexuali(z)ed — pressures on [children], you not only open them up to a world that is commoditi(z)ing and objectifying them," she told the Independent. "You're also setting them back from their ability to develop. So when they are faced with [adult life], the tools aren't there."

As Chlumsky got older, she found the pressures of Hollywood difficult to grapple with. She felt uncomfortable in her body. She was sent to numerous dermatologists to "fix" her skin. She was told she needed to work out on set.  "It's when you go through puberty, and they tell you that you're too fat and this and that," she told The Guardian. "Every adolescent feels that way; it's just in my version, it was an industry telling me that."

Work also began to dwindle. After starring in a sequel to "My Girl" in 1994, she appeared in a couple of TV movies, none of which made much impact. 

Anna Chlumsky left the industry at 18

By the time Anna Chlusmky was 18, she was fed up with life as a former star and all that that entailed. So, she decided to leave the industry behind entirely. At the time, she had already started her college degree, so it was a relatively straightforward transition for her. As she went on to tell Elle, she was still trying to audition for films when she began college. Then one day, she realized: "You never have to do this again." After that, she began ignoring her agents and skipping auditions. She did, however, continue acting for fun in student productions such as "Into the Woods," "Orestes," "Words, Words, Words," and "Nine."

As she settled into college life, she discovered a new world of possibility away from the pressures of Hollywood. "That was when I started to go, 'Oh, there's so many other things,'" she said to The Guardian.

Anna Chlumsky went to college to study International Studies

After Anna Chlumsky decided to leave behind Hollywood, she threw herself into her degree. "I always wanted my education — and so I did that, and I'm glad I did," she told People. She studied International Studies at the University of Chicago. While at university, she picked up a new skill set and a new type of confidence. "Slowly, I think as I would get my As and B+s on my papers, I started to realize it's not about the stuff you already know, but it's about if you can make an argument, and if you can pay attention to what you're reading and make sense of it," Chlumsky said to the Chicago Maroon. "I think I gained the confidence that you need in your own brain, in your own ability to learn."

While studying, Chulmsky began to consider her future. For a while, she even contemplated a career in the government, but her heart wasn't in it. "I think it's one of those things where it's like, 'Oh I don't want to do this, I actually really don't want to take this test,'" she said. "That showed me that I really didn't want to work at the State Department either." Chlumsky graduated in 2002.

Anna Chlumsky met her future husband at university

Not only did Anna Chlumsky find a new passion at college, but she also found her future husband. She met Shaun So on campus and, as of April 2023, has been with him ever since. "We'd met in 2000 at the University of Chicago at a rare dance party on the quad," the actor revealed in a Glamour article about her husband. "We fell for each other quickly and knew we'd stay together after I graduated." So went on to join the Army Reserve while working at the Department of Defense. "Scared as I was, our relationship had been built on support for each other," wrote Chlumsky. "I would never hold him back from anything he wanted to pursue, and I expected he'd do the same for me." So, he ended up going to Afghanistan in 2004 until 2006. While it was hard for the actor, she was dedicated to her relationship. They married in 2008.

For Chlumsky, So has come to represent stability and comfort. "What's nice about being with your college sweetheart is that we kind of grew up together," the actor reflected to The Guardian in 2014. "You're not meeting each other with preconceived notions of how you are now."

Anna Chlumskey worked in other fields after graduating

After graduating from the University of Chicago, Anna Chlumsky landed a job as a fact checker at Zagat Survey, a restaurant review website. This was followed by a job as an editorial assistant at HarperCollins. "When I graduated from college I thought I was over with show business and was pursuing other things," the actor explained to Slate. As she went on to explain, she became interested in fiction and writing. "I went to HarperCollins and edited science fiction and fantasy," she said. "I'm pretty nerdy, as you might be able to tell from my résumé — [I went to the] University of Chicago and then [edited] science fiction." 

Even though Chlumsky loved her job, she still didn't feel satisfied. In fact, she still felt almost as unhappy as she had as a young woman pursuing acting. "I thought all the angst had to do with having been in showbusiness — as an adolescent, anything negative I could trace back to being in showbusiness. That's why I left it. 'No more — it makes me feel like crap,'" she said to The Guardian. "So then to continue to feel that way was like, aargh! And so much of that has to do with being in what I call the pre-life crisis." So, after a few years in publishing, she rethought things again.

Anna Chlumsky went back into acting, giving herself a year to succeed

After spending a few years working in publishing, Anna Chlumsky finally admitted that she wasn't finished with acting. Apparently, her inspiration came from a very unexpected place. On her way to work, a fortune teller approached her in the street. "She's like, 'Are you the girl from 'My Girl?”" Chlumsky told Elle. "I'm like, God dammit. Today? And then she's, 'Wait. You're not done. You want to keep doing it.'" Chlumsky ended up having a palm reading and after ten minutes, she was convinced it was time to re-enter the industry. As she told The Guardian, her husband was completely supportive. As she told People, she gave herself one year to make acting work.

So, she took a course at a New York drama school. At first, trying to rebuild her career was tough. "It was [difficult] in the sense that it was a complete shift — going from a kid to an adult is a big difference," she confessed to Interview Magazine. Luckily, training as an adult made a big difference. "I also was so completely enamored with the profession once I got back into it that, even when I don't know how I'm going to [pay my rent], I still would rather be doing this, and have it be this scary, than doing anything else," she added. "Emotionally, it was taxing, but it still always felt right and always felt good."

After landing a few TV cameos, Chlumsky had her second big break with In The Loop

After Anna Chlumsky made the leap back into the world of acting, she slowly began picking up roles. In 2007, she appeared in the film "Blood Car," an indie film about cars that ran not on gas but on blood. She also landed cameos in "30 Rock" and "Eight Days a Week." In 2008, she appeared in the film "Eavesdrop," an ensemble film set in a restaurant. 

Her second big break came in 2009 with the Armando Iannucci film "In The Loop." Chlumsky starred alongside Tom Hollander, Peter Capaldi, and Gina McKee in the British political satire, playing Liza, an assistant to the American Assistant Secretary of State for Diplomacy. She also appeared in "Veep" — another one of Iannucci's films.

For Chlumsky, the role in "In The Loop" was a dream come true. "It was the best moment of my career to date," she gushed to Vanity Fair in 2019. "It was heaven; it was a joy to work with them. They are so collaborative, and it was the most money I'd made. So that whole myth that you hear about, of that you have to choose quality or money, that was debunked for me from a very early onset in my career by 'In the Loop,' so thank you 'In the Loop,' for that. So I just loved it."

Anna Chlumsky starred in the HBO comedy Veep and finally shed her My Girl reputation

A few years after "In The Loop," Anna Chlumsky finally got the role she had been waiting for when she reunited with Iannucci for the HBO comedy series "Veep." In "Veep," Chlumsky played Amy, the assistant to Vice President Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus). 

Chlumsky was thrilled to work with Iannucci again. For one thing, she loved the process. "We're unlike any television show that I've heard of (because) we actually workshop the episodes first," she said to Deadline. "We all get into a room with the writers and read whatever draft we've got of each episode... So it's all about collaboration, which is probably the reason why I have vowed that I will follow Armando Iannucci anywhere. It's just the most delicious way to work."

The show also ended up transforming Chlumsky's career and giving her the stability she had been craving. "'Veep' was a life-changer — an absolute phenomenal life-changer," she told People. "I'm able to have, you know, I'm able to have my family and my home... I'm able to be choosy at this point about work I do."

Anna Chlumsky became a mother in 2013

Anna Chlumskey and her husband Shaun So had their first child, Penelope Joan, in 2013. The baby came just a week before the actor received an Emmy nod for "Veep." "I was up because I was feeding my daughter, Penelope, who is a week old," she told the Los Angeles Times. "My husband and I were hanging in the nursery. My manager let me know, and he was so excited that I reacted more to his excitement. It just came out as uncontrollable laughter." As Chlumsky went on to explain, as a new mother, she felt very "grounded" when she heard the news. "Having her, and knowing that I've got to feed her when she wakes up again — it definitely keeps you on the ground a little bit. My priorities are in check," she said.

Two years later, Chlumsky spoke to People about her life as a mother. "It's awesome. I love it," she said simply, adding, "This whole thing has taught me that motherhood has a wealth of definitions and identities. There's no one way to be a mom or one way to be a 'good' mom."

Anna Chlumsky grew tired of her My Girl fame

As Anna Chlumsky has grown older and built her own career as an adult, she is still plagued by her "My Girl" fame — and apparently, it's starting to get a little annoying. After all, every single interviewer is sure to bring up the film. As she told Elle in 2022, she is "unequivocally" tired of discussing the movie in interviews. "You ever get sick of talking about that recital you did when you were 10?... Even though it's been 30 years, people still want to be like, 'Oh no, but I still own you,'" she explained. 

She went on to recall the first time she was recognized for her role in "Veep" rather than for her role in "My Girl." "People started recognizing me on the street for 'Veep' instead of for some bulls*** I did when I was 10," she said. "It was the first time that I ever understood what it felt like to be happy to be asked about your job by a stranger." Honestly — fair enough.

Anna Chlumsky starred in Netflix's Inventing Anna

After "Veep" came to an end in 2019, Anna Chlumsky found herself at loose ends. "There's so much unknown right now," she told Vanity Fair at the time. Luckily, she was soon cast in yet another major role. In Netflix's "Inventing Anna," based on the real-life story of scammer Anna Delvey, Chlumsky played Vivian, the reporter who exposed the so-called fake German heiress.

Chlumsky first got involved with the project while still finishing up "Veep" press. "I read through enough of the script for me to be absolutely intrigued and in love with the character and in love with what Shonda was doing with this story," she said to W Magazine, adding, "I loved the facets that she was engaging in, and after that meeting, I desperately wanted to play Vivian."

It was Chlumsky's first time playing a real person. She met the real-life journalist (named Jessica Pressler) and even worked with her throughout the filming process. "Every person on the show from hair and makeup to art direction — we had to take the time to make this look right," she said of the project's dedication to the real-life story to Elle Australia. "We all had to really remember that we were constantly doing that dance [between reality and fiction] together. It was sort of thrilling, it felt a little dangerous even, it was fun."

Anna Chlumsky wants to keep acting — and maybe even do some directing

As of April 2023, Anna Chlumsky isn't attached to any future projects — but it's clear that her career will only continue to blossom. As the actor explained to Harper's Bazaar, there is still a lot she wants to do — including directing. "I've got some wild aspirations," she teased. 'I've got this nagging dream to direct opera someday, or there's documentaries that I want to exist in the world that I don't think anybody else will make. I'm going to have to, someday, in the latter half of my life, figure out how to do that."

And, of course, she wants to keep acting. But, she knows that there's a whole new world of characters to play. "I'm at an interesting place where, like, all of those roles that made me want to act when I was in my early twenties — I'm past them now," she explained. "It's kind of a fun moment in my life where I'm discovering all of the roles I'm going to be right for now. That's different. It's cool, and it's different. Ingénues are done." We certainly can't wait to see where she goes next.

Anna Chlumsky has found true happiness

Even though Anna Chlumsky had a shaky start in the industry after being plunged into childhood stardom, now, she couldn't be happier. After all, she has a successful career, a jam-packed resume, and a thriving family. Plus, she's no longer being objectified by the media for her "My Girl" role. "I'm very happy," she told Elle. "I have a beautiful life." But, of course, it's complicated. "And I trust not one soul, and I have a very complicated relationship with personal agency," she added.

In another interview with Harper's Bazaar, Chlumsky explained that while she had found happiness, she was still working on her past trauma. "I do love my life now," she said to the publication. "It's a great life, but therapy is necessary." Chlumsky has certainly come a long way — and we have a feeling, we'll be seeing a lot more of her.