A.J. Langer was intrigued by acting from the age of five, but it was a high school algebra teacher who gave her the little push she needed to get into the business. Langer first found success playing young teens on television, but as she matured, switched to feature films. To millions, she is best known for having played the free-spirited but troubled Rayanne on the short-lived but highly acclaimed ABC drama My So-Called Life (1992-1993).
She was born Allison Joy Langer in Columbus, OH, but raised in Southern California's San Fernando Valley, where her father worked as a retailer of formal wear and her mother, an audiologist, owned a hearing aid business. She received her nickname at age five, when she played on an all-boy little league team. Her teammates thought Allison too girly a name and so shortened it to the cooler-sounding A.J. She entered show business in ninth grade, after the math teacher spotted her during a speech contest. Impressed by Langer's gift for gab, the teacher pulled some strings with an agent and got her signed up. Her first role was that of Melissa Drexell, Dabney Coleman's daughter in the short-lived Fox sitcom Drexell's Class (1991-1992). The same year, she made her feature film debut playing Alice in Wes Craven's The People Under the Stairs (1992). Langer was also busy making television guest-starring appearances on series such as Blossom and The Wonder Years, and playing small roles in a few television movies.