High School Musical
Russian import Olesya Rulin is best known for playing Kelsi Nielsen in the Disney Channel TV films “High School Musical” (2006) and “High School Musical 2” (2007) and the feature movie “High School Musical 3: Senior Year” (2008). She also appeared in “Major Movie Star” (2008) with Jessica Simpson, “Forever Strong” (2008) with Gary Cole, and “Flying By” (2009) with Billy Ray Cyrus. She has guest starred in the series “Everwood” and “Touched by an Angel.”
Childhood and Family:
Olesya Rulin was born on March 17, 1986, in a poverty stricken village in Moscow, Russia. She left Russia at age 8 when she rejoined her father in the United States (her dad had immigrated to America two years before). Her family lived in Texas and then in Utah, where she attended West Jordan High School. While in high school, she was voted “Best Dressed” during her senior year and was on the National Forensic League. After graduating in 2005, she attended Westminster College in Utah, where she was a double major in business and psychology.
Apart from being an actress, Olesya is a trained ballet dancer and model. She also plays the piano.
Shortly after arriving in the U.S., young Russian immigrant Olesya Rulin began studying ballet and singing. Her entrance into the world of modeling came at age 12 when she took part in a model search and won representation by four different agencies. By the time she was 15, she had added acting to her endeavors.
Rulin made her television debut in the Disney Channel Original Movies “The Poof Point” (2001, as Annie) and “Hounded” (2001), with Shia LaBeouf and Sara Paxton. The following year, she appeared as a high school student in an episode of “Touched by Angel” called “Bring on the Rain.”
Rulin made a guest appearance in the 2004 episode “No Sure Thing” of The WB drama series “Everwood,” whose regulars cast members included Treat Williams, Gregory Smith, Emily VanCamp, Debra Mooney and John Beasley. The same year, she supported Kimberly J. Brown, Debbie Reynolds and Judith Hoag in the Disney Channel film “Halloweentown High” (2004), where she appeared as Natalie the Pink Troll. She next portrayed Mindy, Samantha's friend, in the direct-to-video “Urban Legends: Bloody Mary” (2005), which starred Kate Mara, and Julie Jaymes in the small budget “Mobsters and Mormons” (2005), directed, written and produced by John Moyer who also played a role in the film.
Rulin enjoyed a big breakthrough when she won the role of Kelsi Nielsen in the Emmy Award winning television film “High School Musical” (Disney Channel, 2006). Directed by Kenny Ortega and written by Peter Barsocchini, the film became the most successful movie that Disney Channel Original Movie (DCOM) ever produced. The same year, she also played Sariah in the direct-to-video film “Vampire Chicks with Chainsaws.”
After the phenomenal success of “High School Musical,” Rulin's career took off. She costarred with Aaron Yoo and Gary Cole in Desmond Nakano's “American Pastime” (2007), which depicted the Topaz War Relocation Center, a Utah camp which housed thousands of people during WW II, and as Britney in “The Dance” (2007), a comedy film written and directed by McKay Daines.
It was also in 2007 that Rulin gained additional popularity by reprising her role of Kelsi Nielsen for the made-for-TV film sequel “High School Musical 2,” again directing by Ortega. The film enjoyed even more success than its predecessor and was nominated for Emmys for Outstanding Children's Program and Outstanding Choreography. The movie won a Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Movie.
After appearing as Arielle Kebbel's friend in the sport oriented movie “Forever Strong” (2008), which starred her “American Pastime” costar Gary Cole, Rulin again reprised her role of Kelsi Nielsen in the third installment “High School Musical 3: Senior Year.” Released in the U.S. in October 2008, the film earned mixed reviews, but was a huge box office success. With a budget of $13.3 million, it grossed over $251 million worldwide. Later that same year, Rulin costarred with Jessica Simpson and Vivica A. Fox in “Major Movie Star.”
Recently, Rulin acted in the short film “Chuckle Boy” (2009) and played Ellie in Jim Amatulli's family film “Flying By” (2009), opposite Ahnaise Christmas, Mo Collins, Billy Ray Cyrus, Arabella Field, and Sidney Franklin.