Danica McKellar's new book, "Don't Pick Up This Math Book," was recently released. She also starred in Hallmark's "Very Very Valentine."
La Jolla native, and star of the television series “The Wonder Years,” Danica McKellar, is a New York Times-bestselling author, actress and major proponent of mathematics. Her books, “Goodnight, Numbers,” “Ten Magic Butterflies,” “Bathtime Mathtime,” and her most recent work, “Do Not Open This Math Book,” aim to instill a love of math in both young girls and boys.
La Jolla Village News recently caught up with McKellar via email to chat about her acting career, her recent Hallmark film, and, of course, all things math.
LJVN: Hi Danica. Please tell us about this new book of yours, "Do Not Open This Math Book,” that just came out. What was it’s purpose?
DM: As in all my math books, my purpose is to turn kids’ attitudes about math at a young age away from a negative and into a positive. Particularly for young girls who for too long have been told that for their future, math is not important; if they are struggling with math, it’s ok to give up. This book obviously is purposed to get them cozy and confident with math at a very young age.
LJVN: Where did you draw your inspiration from to write this book?
DM: Growing up, I saw it happening, a double standard for boys and girls. The inspiration coalesced when I was asked to testify before a congressional committee on science and technology in DC as to why there aren’t as many women in science and technology as there are men. Much to the surprise of the congressmen, I told them the division starts in fifth grade, and by the time they enter college it is too late to change them. The cultural damage is done long before. This was a surprise to the congressmen, who then asked me what I might do to change that. From that experience, my inspiration was drawn.
LJVN: What would you like to see happen with this book now moving forward?
DM: I’d like to see every mom and dad in the world read it to their kids every night at bedtime.
LJVN: Tell us about this Hallmark Channel Valentine’s movie that you’re in.
DM: I love working with the Hallmark people from top to bottom. “Very Very Valentine” is another wholesome Hallmark movie that the whole family can watch and enjoy together.
LJVN: It must be an exciting life to be both an author and a working actor. Tell us something about that. You must be really busy.
DM: I am a busy person, but I enjoy every moment of my professional career. I admit “Dancing with the Stars” added a whole new level of busy, but I got it done.
Hard work allows me to be productive, and ironically also allows me to do the most important thing- spending a lot of time with my husband, Scott, and my son, Draco.
LJVN: We have to admit to being big fans of your work on “The Wonder Years” and apologize if we, like everyone else, ask about it. We know that was a long time ago.
DM: You’re forgiven.
LJVN: Anyway, how did you break into acting as a child actress?
DM: My mom somehow knew that my sister, Crystal, and I would take to the stage (my father taught us early the joys of being a ham), and took us unceasingly to dance, acting and singing classes, and then to auditions in LA beginning when I was 6 and Crystal was 4.
LJVN: You must have been like 6-to 10-years-old early-on during “The Wonder Years.”
DM: I was 12 in the pilot episode.
LJVN: It’s often a very difficult transition for child stars later in life. Some never seem to make the transition and a soft landing. Seems like you have been able to avoid that.
DM: As a math advocate and an author, did being multi-faceted like that help you transition into adulthood. Thanks to the love and support of my family, I never had a problem with that. I was, however, very gratified that at UCLA I began to be identified for my math instead of for my role in “The Wonder Years.”
LJVN: Even the biggest stars have to compete for roles, have ups and downs in their careers, etc. Tell us something about that, please.
DM: Someday I’ll write a book about it. You’ll have to wait until then.
LJVN: You have been mostly on TV. Is that easier to navigate than landing a Hollywood movie role? Easier to get a job, etc. Why don’t you tell us a little bit about future endeavors you have planned, in terms of writing or acting or whatever. Thanks so much for your time!
DM: Big screen movies difficult to get? Well, I turned down “Titanic,” “Wonder Woman,” and most roles played by Reese Witherspoon. Seriously, I see my future as more of the same, I love everything about making Hallmark movies and writing math books for kids and teens. But then, who knows what the future may bring?