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Child Actor Gone Right: Spotlight on Danica McKellar

April 02, 2014

As the Season 18 cast of Dancing with the Stars debuts with Danica McKellar among the celebrity dancers, Children In Film is reminded about this child actor gone right!

It’s so great to see a successful child actor leading a successful and inspiring life as an adult. Danica McKellar was born January 3, 1975 in La Jolla, California, the daughter of Mahalia and Christopher McKellar. Both she and her sister, Crystal maintained a focus on education during their young careers as child actors.  Danica broke into acting when she was just 10, making her debut in a few guest appearances in The Twilight Zone (1985.) She achieved her breakthrough 3 years later as Winnie Cooper on ABC’s The Wonder Years, appearing in the main role for 98 episodes. Tonight Show host Jimmy Fallon has said that the character of Winnie Cooper "is the coolest girl in any TV show ever."

After The Wonder Years run, Danica graduated from UCLA Summa cum Laude with a Mathematics degree. She returned to acting in 1999 with a year-long stint as Elsie Snuffin on The West Wing. She appeared in two Lifetime TV movies in the Moment of Truth series, playing Kristin Guthrie in 1994's Cradle of Conspiracy and Annie Mills Carman in 1996's Justice for Annie. She also appeared in numerous guest roles on shows ranging from NYPD Blue to Jack & Bobby, Eve, and NCIS.

In 2008, she was cast in a leading role in Heatstroke, a Sci-Fi Channel original movie about searching for alien life on Earth. She was cast as one of the stars commenting on the occurrences of the new millennium in VH1's I Love the New Millennium (2009). Danica was also the math correspondent for Brink, a program by the Science Channel about technology. In 2013, she played the role of Ellen Plainview in Lifetime's version of the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Wrong Man.

Danica has also worked as a voice actress. She is the voice of Miss Martian in Young Justice. She provided the voices for two characters in video games: Jubilee in X-Men Legends (2004), and Invisible Woman in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006) and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009).

Diane Sawyer’s World News with Diane Sawyer named Danica “Person of the week” for her book, “Math Doesn’t Suck”.  She is now a two-time New York Times bestselling author, for both “Math Doesn’t Suck” and her book “Kiss My Math.”  She also wrote, "Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape," encouraging middle-school and high-school girls to have confidence and succeed in mathematics. In January 2014, the  Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) awarded Danica with their Communications Award. The award honored her for her books, blog, and public appearances that encourage "countless middle and high school students, especially girls, to be more interested in mathematics."

“My main concern with the condition of mathematics in high school is that there's a lot of fear involved! Math is not, generally speaking, presented in a fun way. The concepts, as I see them, ARE fun, and that's the way I'd like to convey them myself,” said Danica on imdb.com.

In March, 2014, Dancing with the Stars announced that Danica will be featured in their new season 18, paired with professional dancer Valentin Chmerkovskiy.
Danica McKellar
Dancing With The Stars