Also Credited As:Danica Mae McKellar
|Danica Mae McKellar on January 3, 1975 in La Jolla, California, USA|
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Born Jan. 3, 1975 in La Jolla, CA, Danica Mae McKellar was interested in dance and performing from a young age. She made her screen debut with a pair of appearances on the 1980s reboot of "The Twilight Zone" (CBS, 1985-89) before booking her star-making role as the winsome Winnie Cooper, the love interest of young Kevin Arnold (Fred Savage) on "The Wonder Years" (ABC, 1988-1993). A critical and commercial favorite, the Emmy-winning series cast a warmly nostalgic eye to growing up in the late-1960s, early-1970s and the on-again, off-again love story between Winnie and Kevin charmed many a viewer. Winning a Young Artist Award and earning three additional nominations for her work, McKellar achieved America's Sweetheart status and managed to grow up gracefully in the spotlight. Becoming a star to certain generations, the actress booked fun roles in such kid-friendly fare as "Camp Cucamonga" (NBC, 1990), "Captain Planet and the Planeteers" (TBS, 1990-96) and her big-screen debut, the Jonathan Brandis/Chuck Norris fantasy "Sidekicks" (1992). Unlike many of her contemporaries, McKellar took a pragmatic view of the entertainment industry and turned her post-child star attention to scholarly pursuits.
Not only did she graduate summa cum laude from UCLA with a degree in mathematics, but she also earned an honor very few could claim: she co-wrote a groundbreaking mathematical physics theorem, the Chayes-McKellar-Winn Theorem. Although she continued to act, she appeared in lower-profile projects, including a slew of made-for-TV movies, including "Justice for Annie: A Moment of Truth Movie" (NBC, 1996). She reunited with Savage on the latter's short-lived sitcom "Working" (NBC, 1997-99) but enjoyed more success with a high-profile recurring role on "The West Wing" (NBC, 1999-2006) as Elsie Snuffin, the stepsister and assistant to Will Bailey (Joshua Malina). McKellar added to her filmography with a series of juicy guest spots on everything from "NCIS" (CBS, 2003- ) to "NYPD Blue" (ABC, 1993-2005) to "Strong Medicine" (Lifetime, 2000-06) and also branched out into voiceover work, lending her distinctive pipes to video games and animated series. Her profile earned its biggest boost, however, when she became a global advocate for inspiring and empowering girls to learn and embrace math.
Scoring New York Times bestsellers with 2007's Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, 2009's Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss, 2011's Hot X: Algebra Exposed! and 2012's Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, McKellar led a movement to help girls see math as a tool that could help them in their daily lives. Earning raves from educational experts as well as previously math-phobic young women around the globe, McKellar embraced her role as a math ambassador as well as producing, writing and starring in a made-for-TV mystery "Inspector Mom: Kidnapped in Ten Easy Steps" (Lifetime, 2007), which spun off into a webseries "Inspector Mom." After roles on "How I Met Your Mother" (CBS, 2005- ) and "The Big Bang Theory" (CBS, 2007- ) she lensed the lead in the holiday telefilm "Love at the Christmas Table" (Lifetime, 2012) and continued to book lucrative voiceover roles, including a series regular gig as Miss Martian on "Young Justice" (Cartoon Network, 2010-13).
By Jonathan Riggs