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Danica McKellar on Winnie Cooper’s Fate & Why People Are So Into Hallmark Movies

Calling Danica McKellar a former child star would be an accurate description, but so would descriptions like best-selling author, TV movie star, Dancing with the Stars alum, mom, University of California, Los Angeles summa cum laude grad and champion for childhood education. McKellar has come a long way from her Wonder Years days, when she portrayed the iconic girl next door in the beloved coming-of-age series for six seasons. Since then, not only has she appeared in dozens of shows, from The West Wing to The Big Bang Theory, she’s written an impressive collection of books that encourage kids, particularly young girls, to embrace and not shy away from math.

McKellar walked the runway at Thursday night’s star-studded American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women fashion show, and SheKnows was able to catch up with her about everything from her commitment to inspiring kids to her upcoming Hallmark Channel slate (and why she thinks the heartwarming films are so darn popular). Fresh off causing quite the nostalgic frenzy following posting a mini-reunion shot with her Wonder Years castmates, McKellar also touched on reboot talk and where she sees Winnie today.

One glance at McKellar’s Instagram, and it’s clear she takes pride in taking care of herself and motivating others. Using frequent hashtags that range from #McKellarMotivationMonday to #FitnessFriday, you can find her sharing workout tips and candid thoughts about maintaining a healthy lifestyle. It’s no wonder she decided to participate in the Red Dress Collection fashion show.

“I just really have for some reason an understanding that I’m making a choice. Every single time I decide to eat something or exercise or not exercise, I’m making a choice. We don’t always make the best choices. Sometimes, I really want a piece of dark chocolate. But I know that I’m making a choice. OK, so maybe I’m going to get a pimple. I really want this right now, and that’s OK. I’m making a choice. As long as I stay conscious and say I’m not going to make that choice every day. My guiding force is this awareness of the fact that I’m a choice-maker,” she explained of her approach to wellness.

But McKellar’s mission isn’t purely related to staying in shape physically. She’s also all about “keeping your brain healthy by keeping it active,” which is where her math books come in. And her hope is that that they’ll continue to break down unfortunate “stereotypes that really encourage women to dumb themselves down.”

She added, “They think they’ll be more popular, they’ll have more friends, they’ll be cool, they won’t be intimidating. In my McKellar math books starting with Math Doesn’t Suck, which is for, like, middle school through high school, I emphasize again and again to embrace your smarts. It’s going to make you a more fabulous young woman.”

McKellar realizes that not everyone will love math, but she still wants them to know they can do it.

“It’s not beyond them. I had a friend in college who wanted to deliver babies, that was her dream. And when she learned how much math she had to take — calculus — and she changed her major and never got to fulfill that. That kind of thing, I want to prevent that,” she told SheKnows.

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Which dress do you like more?? These @theolivertolentino gems were runners-up for the couture dress I'll be wearing for my walk down the runway this Thursday during Fashion Week. (I can't wait till you see what I'm wearing – it's so different for me! 🙃) . . . Be sure to tune in Feb. 7th to @GoRedforWomen's Facebook Live at 8pm EST – I'll be strutting down the runway for @american_heart's @goredforwomen #RedDressCollection in support of women's heart health. ❤ Cardiovascular disease is women's #1 health threat – so let's stand together and work on healthy habits to make it better! . . . #FashionWeek #NYFW #NYFW2019 #GoRedGetFit #strongwomen #womensupportwomen
#RedDressCollection #HeartMonth #February #HappyFebruary #WearRedandGive

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In addition to her math books, McKellar has nine Hallmark Channel movies under her belt. And — get excited! — she’s working on more, including another upcoming Christmas film. What it is about these warm and fuzzy gems that has audiences so hooked?

“We live in a crazy world. It seems to be getting crazier and crazier every day. It doesn’t just provide an escape for people; it reminds us what is possible in human nature. It reminds us about connection and family and the importance of being there for each other,” McKellar said. “And there’s a certain buoyancy you’ll see in all of the female characters. Stuff’s not going well, and they’ll pick themselves up and they keep going, and hope springs eternal. And it ends up working out really well for them because they kept that faith. That’s really good for people to watch. Not only is it a fun escape, but it’s good for the soul.”

As for The Wonder Years‘ future, McKellar’s recent buzzed-about Instagram pic probably isn’t a sign of a reboot to come anytime soon.

“Fred Savage has said there’s never going to be a reboot, so we probably can’t do it without him, and that’s fine, but I have a feeling that Winnie Cooper would probably be writing math books for kids and empowering young women,” she revealed.

Now that’s a fan-fave character update we can definitely get behind.

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