Danica McKeller is an American star of TV and a New York Times Best-selling author. An entire generation of TV watchers fell in love with Danica’s character, Winnie Cooper, on “The Wonder Years” which aired on ABC from 1988 – 1993. Outside of her acting successes, Danica is passionate about teaching math and has co-authored a theorem and has written four books which encourage middle-school and high-school girls to have confidence and succeed in mathematics. Danica resides in Los Angeles, California. (Interview conducted by DSingle correspondent, D.K. Harris)
DS: What are the most memorable years of your life and what happened to make them so memorable?
Danica McKellar: Giving birth to my son, who just turned 2 years old today, has been the most memorable experience so far in my life. On the professional side, when my first book, "Math Doesn't Suck", came out, I had no idea that it was going to turn into such a big deal! Things just exploded with Newsweek covering it and me being the ABC News “Person of the Week” etc. I get tons of e-mails from girls everyday telling me how I have changed their lives
I guess when I was little I used to look at myself in the mirror a lot, and Leslie Ann Warren had told my mom that she thought I should become an actress.
DS: How would you best describe yourself?
Danica McKellar: Hard working, perhaps overly disciplined. I have a lot of fun in my work, but it’s still work. I’m a workaholic.
DS: What are the must-haves in your daily wardrobe?
Danica McKellar: I have these metallic sandals that I wore almost every single day this summer. They are Michael Kors, and they look good with everything. The design’s called “Hamilton.” I also have a long sparkly necklace with a palm tree on it that I love. It’s fun to wear with almost anything.
DS: Who do people tell you you look like?
Danica McKellar: People tell me I look like Winnie Cooper every day (haha), but seriously, I do get compared to my Mom all the time. From parents, I’m getting recognized from “The Wonder Years” frequently, but the fun thing is that the kids are now recognizing me as “that girl who does the math books!” ;) It’s fun when I get e-mails from parents who tell me when their kids see me on reruns of the TV show that their first reaction in recognizing me is from the math books!
Danica McKellar book cover
DS: How did you end-up being a TV Star, Actor & Best-Selling Author?
Danica McKellar: My mom was good friends with people in the industry. I guess when I was little I used to look at myself in the mirror a lot, and Leslie Ann Warren had told my mom that she thought I should become an actress. When my sister and I were 7 or 8, my mom asked us if we’d like to try acting. We went to the Lee Strasberg School for about a year and were in a number of plays. An agent came to one, so I started getting auditions starting at age 9. I got the part for "The Wonder Years” at 12. As far as writing, I graduated with a math major from UCLA, and over the years maintained an online site answering questions about math. In 2005, I did a spread for Stuff magazine, and the NY Times did a piece on how I took time off from acting after "The Wonder Years” to study math and had co-authored a theorem. A couple of book agents contacted me after seeing that. I like being an inspiration to people studying math, so the writing sort of came out of what I was doing already online.
DS: Can you tell us more about your job?
Danica McKellar: It’s different all the time depending on if I am on the set, working on a movie etc. . Balancing the long hours on the set filming with being able to spend time with my son each day can be hard. In July and August, that was sort of how things were with a 6 day a week filming schedule.
“For me it's math and yoga, but what's your favorite way to keep your brain sharp, and what's the most important thing you do to take care of yourself?”
Participate and answer Danica McKellar's question on The Wall below.
Danica McKellar book cover
DS: Let's talk more about you and your tastes. Any hobbies? What do you like to do in your free time? Any thing you like and recommend?
Danica McKellar: I love yoga and ballroom dancing, but I’m not going on “Dancing with the Stars.” ;)
DS: What is a typical week for Danica McKellar?
Danica McKellar: Weeks are different depending on if I am focused on a filming project or working in conjunction with the books/writing. A day when I am doing publicity for the “Today Show” in New York is very different from one on the film set for example. When I’m writing books there are many phases – writing, proofing, art work, etc. Then I am working with posting the solution guides online. Those days involve spending some time with my son first thing in the morning for a couple of hours and then sitting down and working online with the laptop from 10 – 8 sometimes. The nice thing about being able to work from home is to be able to take breaks when necessary. I’m really thankful for that.
DS: Some quick questions: What is the first thing you do in the morning?
Danica McKellar: My son just turned 2, and I am still nursing him in the morning first thing. I like to play him little videos on my phone. He loves Sesame Street and anything related to garbage cans. My son’s little smile gets my day going.
DS: What is your favorite restaurant in Los Angeles?
Danica McKellar: There’s a great all-organic restaurant out here called Real Food Daily. They have such fresh and amazing salads etc. There’s another organic restaurant called Pizza Salad that’s not in my area, but every time I am near I will visit. I love their stuff so much that I actually highlighted the owner, Jessica, in one of my books as a great example of women who use math in their jobs. I’m not a vegan or vegetarian, but I love eating healthy foods.
DS: What is your favorite song today? Of all time?
Danica McKellar: The song called “1,2,3,4” by Feist. She does a Sesame Street version of it. My favorite stuff of all time is Billy Joel!
DS: What is your favorite "drug"?
Danica McKellar: My son, Draco, who just turned two. Other than him, I’m pretty addicted to Twitter!
The photo shoot
DS: What is in store for you? Any key projects for the next months? Anything you want to share? Can our readers help you with anything?
Danica McKellar: I've got two TV movies coming up – one of them is called "Love at the Christmas Table" also starring Dusting Milligan and Lea Thompson, and it premieres Sunday November 25th at 7pm/6pm on Lifetime. The other one probably won't come out till next year sometime. I encourage people to reach out and connect with me on Twitter." I love getting feedback from all over. If any of the readers have middle school or high school aged daughters, please check out the books as a great and fun way to get them into loving math!
DS: Anything you want to add to close this interview?
Danica McKellar: There are so many factors that go into making girls feel like they don’t belong in math. Girls tend to think of themselves as not being good at math even when they are, but if you look at the scores, boys and girls score approximately the same on average in middle school and high school. However, girls tend to drop math as soon as they can, because of lack of confidence and belief in themselves. That's why I love writing books to encourage girls to embrace their smarts, and instead of running away from math – run towards it. Girls are stronger and smarter than they know!
DS: Thank you Danica McKellar
Danica McKellar: Thank you Daron and Dailysingle!