Actress Danica McKellar is perhaps best known for her role as Winnie Cooper in the hit ABC-TV series The Wonder Years, but McKellar has now made a home for herself on the Great American Family (GAF) network.
McKellar left Hallmark Channel not long after Hallmark's former CEO Bill Abbott left to start Great American Family in 2020. McKellar had been a a holiday movie queen and a veteran of the network since 2015. McKellar says of the move, "It didn't really feel like a big change. It just felt like following Bill. The biggest difference is that I now have a multi-picture deal where I'm also a very involved producer, so that makes it a much different experience. I'm much more hands on and it's not just a title. It feels wonderful. A wonderful next step in my career."
She continues, "I love acting, but being an executive producer and getting to be a part of creating characters from the beginning and getting a chance to shape them really amplifies the experience I'm having as an actress. I get to be involved in every step of the process. I've been an actress for 35+ years, so I've done that one role for such a long time, and to get to be a part of the creative process from beginning to end is so creatively satisfying."
In McKellar's new movie, A Royal Date For Christmas, she plays a stylist and co-star Damon Runyan plays a Duke visiting the states who needs a stylist because he's lost all of his luggage. And he also needs a stand-in date because his girlfriend has just broken up with him. You can probably guess the rest.
McKellar says, "It is such a charming, sweet movie filled with joy and love and romance. There's something really special between me and my co-star Damon Runyan. He's just one of these really deep actors. I couldn't be more thrilled with this movie. And as executive producer, I got to watch all these different takes of the scenes and I was so struck by how special they were." (SAG-AFTRA granted A Royal Date For Christmas an interim agreement that enabled the actress to talk about the movie.)
A Royal Date For Christmas is one of the 21 (and counting) original new films for Great American Family's Great American Christmas (the network's signature franchise), which returned in October with new holiday movie premieres every Saturday and Sunday and 24/7 Christmas movies through the end of the year. A Royal Date For Christmas premiered on November 25 and will run throughout the month of December on GAF.
McKellar, her husband Scott and son Draco made the move to Tennessee last year. "We love it here so much. I lived in California my entire life. It was just time. As soon as we were able to go, we left. We were ready for nature. We were ready for more beauty - trees and horses, lush and beautiful. If you're looking in the distance, it's just mountains and hills and beauty. I didn't realize you could love where you live so much. Don't get me wrong. I love New York, I love Los Angeles, I love cities, but I love them in smaller doses now. I like to visit. Coming back to a peaceful, idyllic scenery is such a luxury and so wonderful."
While McKellar is loving her new life in Tennessee and continues to entertain as an actress, she is equally celebrated for her contributions to math education for young minds. McKellar Math (McKellarMath.com) was born in 2007, a few years after Danica spoke before a Congressional Committee about why kids in the United States are far behind kids of many other countries in math scores, and why girls especially begin to shy away from math in middle school.
She is the author of several math books, including her first book, Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, aimed at helping middle school girls overcome their fear of math. She continues to encourage young girls to pursue the subject with confidence in subsequent books, Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss, and Hot X: Algebra Exposed, Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape expanded on her mission to demystify mathematics.
When asked if she's a math genius, McKellar replies, "No. I'm a challenge lover. I love the challenge of math and I love the way it makes the problem-solving side of your brain work. There's a lot of beauty in math - patters and symmetries and functions to discover. I fell in love with math. It's a foreign language that needs to be translated properly. I just want to help kids not be afraid of math and to make it fun and accessible and relevant to their lives. I don't want someone's fear of math to keep them from doing something they love. I know it's working. It's the most gratifying thing ever." GreatAmericanFamily.com
"I love acting, but being an executive producer and getting to be a part of creating characters from the beginning and getting a chance to shape them really amplifies the experience I'm having as an actress."