How Hallmark's Danica McKellar Found Her Self-Worth After The Wonder Years

Danica McKellar is a Hallmark veteran who makes every holiday season just a little bit more magical, but that isn't where the actor got her start. One of her most iconic roles is Winnie Cooper, the wholesome girl next door from the beloved television series "The Wonder Years." The comedy-drama ran on ABC from 1988 to 1993, launching McKellar into global stardom at just 13 years old.

She went on to appear in some of Hallmark's most successful festive movies, including "Suddenly Santa" and "Christmas She Wrote." McKellar also voiced more than a few cartoon characters throughout her impressive career, most notably 11 of them in a single show, "Young Justice." The actor worked as a producer and writer on the mystery series "Inspector Mom," in which she also starred, too. 

However, as McKellar was so young when she stepped into showbusiness, she had to work harder to find her self-worth during her formative years, especially after "The Wonder Years" came to a close. Between work and school, there was much ground to cover for the former child star, which ultimately led her to question her value offscreen. As a mathematician and author, McKellar challenged herself to step out of her comfort zone.

Math helped Danica McKellar feel more confident

In an ET interview, conducted by the actor's son, Draco Verta, whom she shares with ex-husband Mike Verta, Danica McKellar got into the ins and outs of being a child actor. When Draco asked his mom what she remembered most from the heights of "The Wonder Years," McKellar revealed, "It was a lot of going back and forth to the school trailer," referring to having to balance her job and doing schoolwork. She added that she would never push Draco into the business if he didn't want to do it himself, but that she would provide guidance if he ever expressed any desire to become an actor.

A lesser-known fact about McKellar is that the Hallmark star also has a degree in mathematics, a field she got into after "The Wonder Years" ended in order to push herself. "I needed to find out how I was valuable outside of Winnie Cooper," the actor explained, adding that she loved knowing she had value outside of her performance skills and looks.

McKellar enrolled in UCLA's math program, graduating summa cum laude, aka with the highest honors. While on HLN's "Evening Express," McKellar shared that taking on something as hard as math helped develop her self-esteem. In order to help young girls do the same, McKellar decided to start writing math-themed books, becoming a bestselling author in the process.

The Hallmark star writes math books to empower young girls

Aside from being an actor, a producer, and a mathematician, Danica McKellar added yet another title to her remarkable list of accomplishments. During her college years, McKellar became aware of just how good math made her feel, and upon wanting to share that sentiment with young girls, the star embarked on the journey of authoring math books.

"You don't have to be limited by the stereotypes in your head about who's going to be good at math," McKellar shared on CNBC's "On The Money," adding that being smart and famous aren't mutually exclusive. "[Math] exercises the problem-solving part of your brain, which will help you better be able to pursue your dreams, whatever they might be," she noted.

McKellar has authored 11 mathematics books to date, for ages ranging from 0 to 16. In "Girls Get Curves," the star combined the topics she's passionate about, self-esteem and math, by applying her confidence tactics to high school geometry. While McKellar's Hallmark career is impressive in its own right, her side gig is shattering stereotypes and making quite the impact.