An attractive blonde actress with an honest, unadorned appeal, Arija Bareikis projects a quietly powerful presence that has led to a burgeoning career on both stage and screen. She racked up theater credits in regional productions before landing a major Broadway role in 1997 as Sunny Freitag, an Aryan-featured Wesleyan student and Southern Jewish socialite who longs to be a WASP, in Alfred Uhry's Tony Award-winning "The Last Night of Ballyhoo". Bareikis made her film debut in the 1994 short "Celestial Navigation" and followed with the festival-screened independents "Ties to Rachel" (1996) and 1997's "Pants on Fire" before landing a breakthrough role in Bart Freundlich's acclaimed "The Myth of Fingerprints" (also 1997). In the film, she played Daphne, the ex-girlfriend that Noah Wyle's Warren has never gotten over. Through the course of the film the two are reunited and the painful events surrounding their breakup are uncovered. Bareikis offered a very complex and likable characterization as Daphne, an obviously strong and grounded individual trying to release the pain of the past. Her interaction with the comparatively unstable Warren is appropriately tender, and the two display the walk between familiarity and apprehension that exists with an abandoned relationship. The actress could additionally be seen in the Ethan Coen-penned direct-to-video comedy "The Naked Man" (1999). She had her first leading role in a major studio release, starring opposite Rob Schneider in the zany Touchstone comedy "Deuce" (1999).
Bareikis' TV appearances have generally been in productions in her adopted hometown of New York, appearing on the daytime dramas "All My Children" and "One Life to Love" (ABC) and "Another World" (NBC), and making her primetime debut in a 1997 episode of "Law & Order". In addition, she had a recurring role on HBO's hard-hitting prison drama "Oz" in 1999. playing Tricia Ross, the sister of a slain inmate who falls in love with Said (Eamonn Walker), the prison's Muslim leader. A spark between the two strong and temperate individuals is evident at their initial meeting to discuss a potential wrongful death lawsuit. The two continue their budding relationship although Tricia's race threatens to ruin Said's status as a spiritual and political leader. Bareikis and Walker's quiet and understated scenes together stood out as some of the more emotionally powerful and well-acted segments of the already exceptional show.