'Blossom' Proves Child Stars Can Come Out on Top
By Brooke Tarnoff Posted Apr 9th 2010 02:00PM
It's refreshing to see a one-time child actor emerge from the experience unscathed; 'Blossom' star Mayim Bialik is one such success story. The actress has been working steadily in television after a lengthy hiatus -- during which she earned a PhD in neuroscience and started a family. Bialik talks to PopEater exclusively about keeping it together in Hollywood, balancing motherhood with her career and her upcoming arc on 'The Big Bang Theory.'
Bialik acknowledges the dangers of growing up in the public eye but insists that no child is immune to trouble. "There is no formula for how to make any kid turn out OK. Whether they're in the industry or not," Bialik says. "Obviously, it's more interesting when we're in the industry because people get access to our lives and details about us that they don't with the average kid down the street who's doing drugs."
"I knew Corey [Haim], we ran in the same circles and we did publicity stuff together," she continues. "His parents were immigrants to Israel, and he was Jewish. I know a little bit about his family ... I feel like it would be a disservice to his memory and to his family to say, you know, my grandparents worked in sweatshops and my parents lived in poverty and they were very strict with me. And they were, I mean that is the truth. But that's not why I turned out the way I did. Yes, I was raised in a traditional home. Yes, my dad believed I should take out the trash even if I was on 'The Tonight Show' that evening as well. But it's not that simple."
"When you deal with kids in the industry, we're either getting something that we need by being in front of people and getting that attention, or being in front of people and getting that attention is fulfilling to some need we didn't know we had. So I think when it gets to the degree of self-medicating that you see people do ... that's really an issue of mental illness. I also speak from kind of a neuroscience perspective, because that was my training, but I think any time someone is driven to be that numb, it's a larger issue. It's not just that they were famous."
Watch Mayim Bialik as a teen in 'Blossom'
Bialik herself achieved fame at a young age, first as the young Bette Midler in 'Beaches' and later in the title role of 'Blossom.' In the past five years, Bialik has appeared in one-off episodes of 'Bones' and 'Saving Grace' and multiple-episode stretches of 'Curb Your Enthusiasm,' ''The Secret Life of the American Teenager,' 'Til Death' and more. She tells PopEater, "I am looking for a series. I mean, theoretically, that's where I could see my life going."
Bialik explains that snagging a major role can be challenging. "Because of a lot of things in the industry and what it looks like for women, or what it looks like for 'character actresses' or ethnic women -- which I am -- basically I've been taking what comes to me. And that's been auditioning for episodicals," she says. "Because I try to bank on the fact that I am sort of a character actress, I get sent out for things that have sort of an arc, where they need someone for more than one shot."
The return to acting was never Bialik's goal, however. "My initial plan was to pursue a life of academia," she admits. "It's something I'm tremendously proud of."
"To be honest, the style of parenting that [my husband and I] fell in love with was not compatible with me working in academia -- putting the kids in daycare or being away from them. That was a huge part of what drove our decision. We believe very strongly that the most important thing in our life is these two children that have been delivered to us by the miracle of birth. And really, we're trying to fit our life around that. "
She explains, "It's not that I don't love acting. I do! I love being on the set, I love watching all the cameras and the lights. I love watching everything come together. I'm a really old-fashioned actor. I like to be on the set. But I really like to be with my kids."
Having made the choice, Bialik is thrilled with her upcoming 'Big Bang Theory' appearance. "I'm in the season finale," she reveals. "They have a pin in me for next season, at this point two episodes, so we'll see. I'm cast as Sheldon's possible match. What that means, we're not sure. I'm in the last scene of the season and we don't know where it's going."
"When I've tried to ask producers, everyone's very tight-lipped about it," Bialik says. "Sheldon is a very beloved character just the way he is, and so I think we need to see what this looks like in terms of how people perceive the possible match."
Mayim Bialik Snapshots
Actress Mayim Bialik of 'Blossom' is all grown up. Check out pics of the 'Secret Life of the American Teenager' and 'Big Bang Theory' star >>
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