Danica McKellar Talks "Love at the Christmas Table", Breastfeeding & More!
Adolescence is so tricky; and like it or not as the mother of a tween girl I get the pleasure (and I use that term facetiously) to relive that rollercoaster of emotion that can only be wrought by an 11 year old. As a 39-year-old woman, I have tried to convey to my girl that in the grand scheme of things, the daily drama she encounters is just a blip on the radar screen of her life. But all my 11 year old can focus on is the here and now- the sports team that she didn’t make, or the teacher she feels unable to impress, or the girl who she is unable to confront.
And when I was an angst filled teen myself, I felt a strong kinship with the character of Winnie Cooper on “The Wonder Years” - who so expertly captured that fleeting period of adolescence which seemed to speak directly to my own insecurities and the awkwardness of it all. So of course I jumped at the opportunity to catch up with the real life Winnie Cooper- actress Danica McKellar. Danica stars in the Lifetime TV original movie "Love at the Christmas Table” - a romantic comedy set at Christmastime which chronicles the romance between characters Sam and Kat from the ages 5 to 32 who first meet under the children's table on Christmas Eve and catch up each year at Christmas -often at that very same children's table. It premieres the Sunday of Thanksgiving weekend - November 25, 7/6c.
Q: What was it like filming this Lifetime TV movie -- are you a fan of the network?
A: Danica: I have a two year old so I hardly watch TV but I've worked for LMTV - and I am all for any network that gets more women in TV represented. If you look at roles across the board it’s 5 to 1, and so it’s really important for little girls to see themselves represented on screen where they are more than just primarily the wife and girlfriend. Which is why I love that Lifetime focuses on women' stories- because women’s stories are simply underrepresented. It's one of the reasons I write math books for girls- I've always felt if girls believe they can tackle challenges like math they will be able to tackle anything- but back to lifetime and why I like it- the network gives girls and women the opportunity to see stories told about women- and that they are so much more than these supporting characters!
Q: WOW- you write Math books?!
A: Yes I write math books- I’ve actually written four - my latest one is "Girls Get Curves!". I teach girls to understand beyond actual math the idea that getting good at math will help you become a fabulous woman. That getting a handle on math will help you be smarter and make better decisions about everything in your career. I have written four books the first is math doesn’t suck-- for middle school girls’ ages 9-11 which is such a crucial time and girls’ image of what math is. I had no idea it was going to be such a success. Kiss my math is geared for girls 11 to 13 years old and I have algebra and geometry books. They are great Christmas presents; self esteem books in disguise- how better to build your confidence, if girls who struggle with math see these books can help them overcome it they will feel stronger and smarter and that they can do it- which is amazing for their confidence.
Q: Growing up as a child star- how do you think you avoided pitfalls so many others haven’t been able to?
A: I have really great parents and I grew up believing in my heart that myself, education and family came first. I never doubted that I'd go to college- my parents made sure I stay grounded and that I was a kid. They weren't overly impressed by Hollywood it didn’t define their success; they had their own lives too. I think sometimes these Hollywood parents are living vicariously through their kids whether they are relying on them to be breadwinners or to get the fame they never had. But in my childhood when I signed up to audition my parents never wanted it to become a big part of my life. Winnie Cooper was supposed to be a one shot deal, and during the shooting they offered me a contract to be a series regular. I was allowed to do this series- because my mom felt all the other kids and their moms had right idea, and put family first. And she said to me, if you ever want to stop you say the word and we are done.