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Ariana Richards (born September 11, 1979) is an American actress and professional painter. She is best known for her roles as Lex Murphy in the film Jurassic Park and as Carol Wetherby in the film Prancer.


Richards was born in Healdsburg, Californiamarker, the daughter of Darielle (née Parmelee), a public relations representative and film producer, and Gary Richards. Her sister, Bethany, is also an actress. Richards is of Irish and Italian descent, and is a descendant of Renaissance painter Carlo Crivelli.

Richards graduated from Skidmore Collegemarker, earning a degree in Fine Art and Drama, with distinction. She continued with instruction at Art Center College of Designmarker in Pasadenamarker and also attended Western Oregon Universitymarker.


Richards made her acting debut in 1987's Into the Homeland, a made-for-cable release that starred Powers Boothe. Her most notable appearance was as Lex Murphy in the first Jurassic Park film; she reprised the role very briefly in the sequel The Lost World: Jurassic Park. Similarly, she appeared as Mindy Sterngood in the first Tremors film and reprised her role in the second sequel Tremors 3: Back to Perfection, which went straight to video. She has been featured in other films such as Angus, where she played a bulimic girl; she also appeared on television episodes of The Golden Girls, Empty Nest, and Boy Meets World.

On Jurassic Park, director Steven Spielberg cast Joseph Mazzello for the part of Tim Murphy, but because Joseph was young for the role (Joseph was nine years old and in the book, Tim was eleven years old), Steven recognised problems with the idea of casting a much younger actress to play Alexis "Lex" Murphy as she would have to be about four years old. The ages of Tim and Lex were reversed so that Lex was now older than Tim. Ariana Richards was invited to read for the role after Steven spotted her Young Artist Award-winning performance in Switched at Birth. Steven expressed an interest in hearing how well Ariana could scream. Putting her in a room, the casting director recorded Ariana's screams for three minutes, which satisfied Spielberg that she was right for the part. Steven Spielberg claimed that he had never heard realistic screams like that since "Fay Wray from King Kong".

As well as movies, in 1998, Richards had appeared in the music video "Brick" by Ben Folds Five, portraying a high school student having an abortion. Richards appeared in the September 2006 issue of UK movie magazine Empire discussing a possible return to acting.


  • Favourite Newcomer - Japan: Jurassic Park (1994)
  • Favourite Newcomer - Australia: Jurassic Park (1994)
  • Favourite Newcomer - United Kingdom: Jurassic Park (1994)
  • The Bambi Award: Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Young Artist Award - Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture: Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Young Artist Award - Best Young Actress in a Television Movie: Locked Up: A Mother's Rage (1992)
  • Young Artist Award - Best Young Actress in a Television Movie: Switched At Birth (1991)

Selected filmography


In 1993, Ariana released the album First Love on the Pony Canyon label in Japan. The album was a mix between teen-pop and dance friendly ballads of the early 1990s. There was also a single released in very small volume. Ariana and her mother wrote the words to the track "You're the Reason".

First Love contained the tracks:
  • Anyone Can See
  • You Made a Promise
  • First Love
  • You're the Reason
  • I Think I Love You
  • The Very Thought of You
  • Message to my Fans (this was not a song track but a spoken "thank you" by Ariana)

Ariana also recorded a duet single with Chris M. Allport titled The Prayer, released August 2008.


Richards has become a successful artist. Her paintings, usually of landscapes and figures, tend to be in the style of the impressionists. In October 2005, she won first place in the National Professional Oil Painting Competition (sponsored by American Artist Magazine) for the painting Lady of the Dahlias.

She currently resides in Salem, Oregonmarker and is apprenticing under a professional painter.


  • Art of the West's Award of Excellence (2006)
  • The National Professional Oil Painting Competition (2005)


  1. biography
  2. Autobiography on her gallery site

External links

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