Danica McKellar

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Danica McKellar
McKellar at the 2018
National Book Festival
Danica Mae McKellar

(1975-01-03) January 3, 1975 (age 47)
Alma materUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BS, Mathematics)
OccupationActress, mathematics writer, education advocate
Years active1985–present
Michael "Mike" Verta
(m. 2009; div. 2012)
Scott Sveslosky
(m. 2014)
WebsiteOfficial website

Danica Mae McKellar (born January 3, 1975)[1] is an American actress, mathematics writer, and education advocate. She played Winnie Cooper in the television series The Wonder Years from 1988 to 1993, and since 2010 has voiced Miss Martian in the animated superhero series Young Justice.

In 2015, McKellar was cast in the Netflix original series Project Mc2. She appears in several television films for Hallmark Channel. She is the current voice of Judy Jetson from The Jetsons since 2017 following Janet Waldo's death in 2016.

In addition to her acting work, McKellar later wrote six non-fiction books, all dealing with mathematics: Math Doesn't Suck, Kiss My Math, Hot X: Algebra Exposed, Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape, which encourage middle-school and high-school girls to have confidence and succeed in mathematics, Goodnight, Numbers, and Do Not Open This Math Book.[2][3][4]

Early life and education[edit]

McKellar was born in La Jolla, California.[5] She moved with her family to Los Angeles when she was eight. Her mother Mahaila McKellar (née Tello) was a homemaker; her father Christopher McKellar is a real estate developer; her younger sister Crystal (b. 1976) is a lawyer.[6] She is of paternal Scottish, French, German, Spanish, and Dutch descent and her mother is of Portuguese origin via the Azores and Madeira islands.[7]

McKellar studied at the University of California, Los Angeles where she was a member of the Alpha Delta Pi sorority[8] and earned a Bachelor of Science degree summa cum laude in Mathematics in 1998.[9] As an undergraduate, she coauthored a scientific paper with Professor Lincoln Chayes and fellow student Brandy Winn titled "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin–Teller models on ."[10] Their results are termed the "Chayes–McKellar–Winn theorem".[11][12] Later, when Chayes was asked to comment about the mathematical abilities of his student coauthors, he was quoted in The New York Times, "I thought that the two were really, really first-rate."[13] For her past collaborative work on research papers, McKellar is currently assigned the Erdős number four, and her Erdős–Bacon number is six.[14]

Acting career[edit]

The Wonder Years and early acting career [edit]

At age seven, McKellar enrolled in weekend acting classes for children at the Lee Strasberg Institute in Los Angeles.[15] In her teens, she landed a prominent role in The Wonder Years, an American television comedy-drama that ran for six seasons on ABC, from 1988 to 1993. She played Gwendolyn "Winnie" Cooper, the main love interest of Kevin Arnold (played by Fred Savage) on the show. Her first kiss was with Fred Savage in an episode of The Wonder Years.[16][17] She later said, "My first kiss was a pretty nerve-wracking experience! But we never kissed off screen, and pretty quickly our feelings turned into brother/sister, and stayed that way."[18]

Later acting career[edit]

McKellar at a book signing, October 2007

McKellar has said that she found it "difficult" to move from being a child actress to an adult actress.[18] Since leaving The Wonder Years, McKellar has had several guest roles in television series (including one with former co-star Fred Savage on Working), and has written and directed two short films. She appeared in two Lifetime TV movies in the Moment of Truth series, playing Kristin Guthrie in 1994's Cradle of Conspiracy and Annie Mills Carman in 1996's Justice for Annie. She briefly returned to regular television with a recurring role in the 2002–03 season of The West Wing, portraying Elsie Snuffin, the half-sister and assistant of Deputy White House Communications Director Will Bailey.

McKellar was featured in the video for Debbie Gibson's eighth single from the Electric Youth album, "No More Rhyme", which was released in 1989. She plays the cello in the beginning of the video.[19]

McKellar appeared in lingerie in the July 2005 edition of Stuff magazine[20] after readers voted her the 1990s star they would most like to see in lingerie. McKellar explained that she agreed to the shoot in part to obtain "grittier roles".[18]

In 2006, McKellar starred in a Lifetime movie and web-based series titled Inspector Mom about a mother who solves mysteries.[21][22]

On the August 1, 2007, edition of the Don and Mike Show, a WJFK-FM radio program out of Washington, D.C., McKellar announced that the producers of How I Met Your Mother were planning to bring her back for a recurring role (she guest-starred on the show in late 2005 in "The Pineapple Incident" and again in early 2007 in "Third Wheel"). She also made an appearance on the show The Big Bang Theory, in the episode "The Psychic Vortex".[23]

In 2008, she starred in Heatstroke, a Sci-Fi Channel original movie about searching for alien life on Earth and in 2009 she was one of the stars commenting on the occurrences of the new millennium in VH1's I Love the New Millennium and was the math correspondent for Brink, a program by the Science Channel about technology. In 2013, she played Ellen Plainview in Lifetime's reimagining of the 1956 Alfred Hitchcock film The Wrong Man.

McKellar has also worked as a voice actress, having provided the voice of Jubilee in the video game X-Men Legends (2004), and Invisible Woman in Marvel: Ultimate Alliance (2006) and Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 (2009). She provided the voice of Miss Martian in the TV series Young Justice.

In 2012, she starred in the Lifetime movie Love at the Christmas Table with Dustin Milligan.

In January 2013, she starred in the Syfy movie Tasmanian Devils with Apolo Ohno.

On August 20, 2013, Canadian singer Avril Lavigne released the music video for her single "Rock N Roll" from her self-titled fifth album, which features McKellar as "Winnie Cooper".[24]

On March 4, 2014, she was announced to be competing on season 18 of Dancing with the Stars. She paired with Valentin Chmerkovskiy.[25] McKellar and Chmerkovskiy were eliminated on Week 8, finishing in 6th place.

She had a guest appearance in the Impractical Jokers season four episode six titled "The Blunder Years". She made another guest appearance in the season seven episode ten titled "Speech Impediment".

In 2015, she starred in the Netflix original series Project Mc2 as The Quail.

She has starred in several Hallmark Channel movies, including Crown for Christmas, My Christmas Dream, Campfire Kiss, Love and Sunshine, Christmas at Dollywood, and You, Me & the Christmas Trees as well as the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries series The Matchmaker Mysteries.

McKellar is a judge on Fox’s Domino Masters[26] premiering March 9, 2022.[27]


McKellar has authored several mathematics-related books primarily targeting adolescent readers interested in succeeding at the study of mathematics:

  • McKellar, Danica; Mary Lynn Blasutta (2008). Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. New York: Plume. ISBN 9780452289499.
  • McKellar, Danica (2009). Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss. New York: Plume. ISBN 9780452295407.
  • McKellar, Danica (2010). Hot X: Algebra Exposed. New York: Plume. ISBN 9780452297197.
  • McKellar, Danica (2012). Girls Get Curves: Geometry Takes Shape. New York: Hudson Street Press. ISBN 9781594630941.

Her first book, Math Doesn't Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail, was a New York Times bestseller,[2] and was favorably reviewed by Tara C. Smith, the founder of Iowa Citizens for Science and a professor of epidemiology at the University of Iowa.[28] The book also received a review from Anthony Jones, writing for the School Librarian journal, who described the book as "a trouble-shooting guide to help girls overcome their biggest maths challenges," noting what he described as "real-world examples of great mathematics in action."[29] In an interview with Smith, McKellar said that she wrote the book "to show girls that math is accessible and relevant, and even a little glamorous" and to counteract "damaging social messages telling young girls that math and science aren't for them".[30]

McKellar's second book, Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss,[31] was released on August 5, 2008. The book's target audience is girls in the 7th through 9th grades. Her third book, Hot X: Algebra Exposed![32] covers algebra topics, while the previous two titles were intended as "algebra-readiness books."[33] Hot X was published on August 3, 2010. Her fourth book, Girls Get Curves – Geometry Takes Shape,[34] focuses on the subject of geometry, and attempts to make the subject more accessible.[35]

Three of McKellar's books were listed in The New York Times children's bestseller list.[36][37] She received Mathical Honors for Goodnight, Numbers.[38]

Published papers[edit]

Chayes, L; McKellar, D; Winn, B (1998). "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin–Teller models on " (PDF). Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General. 31 (45): 9055–9063. Bibcode:1998JPhA...31.9055C. doi:10.1088/0305-4470/31/45/005.

Awards and honors[edit]

McKellar was named Person of the Week on World News with Charles Gibson for the week ending August 10, 2007. The news segment highlighted her book Math Doesn't Suck and her efforts to help girls develop an interest in mathematics, especially during the middle school years.[39] In January 2014, she received the Joint Policy Board for Mathematics (JPBM) Communications Award. The citation credited her books, blog, and public appearances for encouraging "countless middle and high school students, especially girls, to be more interested in mathematics."[40]

Personal life[edit]

McKellar married composer Michael "Mike" Verta on March 22, 2009, in La Jolla, California; the couple had dated since 2001.[41] They had their first child, a son named Draco, in 2010.[42][43] McKellar filed for divorce from Verta in June 2012.[44]

McKellar has homeschooled Draco his entire life, and many of her math books’ themes are inspired by at-home instruction.[45]

On July 16, 2014, she became engaged to her boyfriend Scott Sveslosky, a partner in the Los Angeles legal firm Sheppard, Mullin, Richter & Hampton. On November 15, 2014, they married in Kauai, Hawaii.[46]

Cultural references[edit]

McKellar's notoriety for Hallmark mystery movies was spoofed in the 2019 film Knives Out, complete with the parody title Deadly By Surprise.[47]



Year Title Role Notes
1992 Sidekicks Lauren
2001 Good Neighbor Molly Wright
XCU: Extreme Close Up Sarah
Speechless... Dana Woodman Short film
2002 Sex and the Teenage Mind Debbie
Black Hole Rachael
Reality School Sexy Sally Short film
Jane White Is Sick & Twisted Tiffany
The Year that Trembled Pam Hatch
Hip, Edgy, Sexy, Cool Sissie
2004 Raising Genius Lacy Baldwin
Intermission Sleepwalker Short film
Quiet Kill Pet Shop Girl
2007 Hack! Emily
2008 Heatstroke Caroline
2009 21 and a Wake-Up Jenny Valentine
2010 Scooby-Doo! Abracadabra-Doo Madelyn Dinkley Voice role; direct-to-video
Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam Sally Voice role; direct-to-video
2012 Flatland 2: Sphereland Aero Direct-to-video
Mancation Rebecca
2014 Where Hope Grows Susan Malcolm
2017 The Jetsons & WWE: Robo-WrestleMania! Judy Jetson Voice role; direct-to-video
2018 The Fiddling Horse Leslie Heart Feature film
2018 Lego DC Super Hero Girls: Super-Villain High Frost Direct-to-video
2018 DC Super Hero Girls: Legends of Atlantis Frost Direct-to-video


Year Title Role Notes
1985 The Twilight Zone Nola (age 10) Episode: "Her Pilgrim Soul"
1987 Deidre Dobbs Episode: "Shelter Skelter"
1988–1993 The Wonder Years Winnie Cooper Main role (Seasons 1-6)
1989 The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Patty Episode: "Day of the Orphan" / "King Mario of Cramalot"
1990 Camp Cucamonga Lindsey Scott Television film (NBC)
1992 Captain Planet and the Planeteers Lisa (Voice) Episode: "A Formula for Hate"
1994 Babylon 5 Aria Tensus Episode: "The War Prayer"
Moment of Truth: Cradle of Conspiracy Kristin Guthrie Television film (NBC)
Walker, Texas Ranger Laurie Maston Episode: "Stolen Lullaby"
Sirens Alison Trent Episode: "Victims"
1996 Justice for Annie: A Moment of Truth Movie Annie Mills Carman Television film (NBC)
1998 Love Boat: The Next Wave Mary Dutton Episode: "How Long Has This Been Going On?"
Working Jolie Episodes: "As Bad As It Gets", "She Loves Me Yeah, Yeah, Yeah"
1999 Random Play Daughter Episode: "1.4"
2000–2004 Static Shock Freida Goren (Voice) Recurring role (Seasons 1-4)
2001 The Division Wendy Episode: "Don't Ask"
Even Stevens Sandrine Episode: "Sibling Rivalry"
The Weakest Link Herself TV Child Stars Special Edition
2002 Justice League Sapphire Stagg (Voice) Episode: "Metamorphosis" (parts 1 & 2)
2002–2003 The West Wing Elsie Snuffin Recurring role (Season 4)
2004 King of the Hill Sharona / Misty (Voice) Episodes: "My Hair Lady", "Cheer Factor"
Game Over Elsa / Renee (Voice) Recurring role (Season 1)
Century City Sally Episode: "Without a Tracer"
Eve Claudia Episode: "Friend or Foe?"
2005 NCIS Erin Kendall Episode: "Witness"
Jack & Bobby Keirsten Episode: "And Justice for All"
NYPD Blue Rosemary Episode: "Moving Day"
Strong Medicine Natalie Pascal Episode: "Feeling No Pain"
Path of Destruction Katherine Stern Television film (Syfy)
How I Met Your Mother Trudy Episode: "The Pineapple Incident"
2006 Inspector Mom Maddie Monroe Television film (Lifetime)
Cyberchase Wanda (Voice) Episode: "Designing Mr. Perfect"
2006–2007 Inspector Mom Maddie Monroe Recurring role (Season 1)
2007 Random! Cartoons Katerina "Kat" Metropoulos (Voice) Episode: "Girls on the Go!"
How I Met Your Mother Trudy Episode: "Third Wheel"
2010 The Big Bang Theory Abby Episode: "The Psychic Vortex"
Young Justice Miss Martian, Marie Logan, Tuppence Terror, Hawkwoman, Angel O'Day (Voice) Main role (57 episodes)
2010-2013 Generator Rex Claire (Voice) Episode: "Operation: Wingman", "Haunted", and "Hermanos"
2010 G.I. Joe: Renegades Sister Leia (Voice) Episode: "Brothers of Light"
2012 The Nerdist: Tribute to Science Herself Talk show
Love at the Christmas Table Katherine "Kat" Patton Television film (Lifetime)
2013 Tasmanian Devils Alex Television film (Syfy)
The Secret Life of the American Teenager Herself Episode: "Interference"
Nerdist: Course of the Force Bounty Hunter Episode: "Michael Rooker & CM Punk: Lighstaber Hunt"
The Wrong Woman Ellen Plainview Television film (Lifetime)
2014 Transformers: Rescue Bots Hayley Voice role; 2 episodes
Dancing with the Stars Herself Contestant on season 18; finished in sixth place
2015 King of the Nerds Herself Judge
Impractical Jokers Herself 3 episodes
2015 Perfect Match (aka A Perfect Wedding) Jessica Summers Television film (Hallmark)
Miss America 2016 Herself Judge
Crown for Christmas Allie Evans Television film (Hallmark)
2015–2017 Project Mc2 The Quail Main role (Seasons 1–2,4–5)
Netflix original series
2015–2018 DC Super Hero Girls Frost (Voice) Recurring role (Seasons 1-5)
2016 My Christmas Dream Christina Television film (Hallmark)
Wedding Bells Molly Television film (Hallmark)
2016–2018 Shimmer and Shine Layla (voice) Recurring role; 3 episodes
2017 Mommy, I Didn't Do It Ellen Plainview Television film (Lifetime)
Campfire Kiss Dana Television film (Hallmark)
Coming Home for Christmas Lizzie Television film (Hallmark)
2018 Very, Very, Valentine Helen Television film (Hallmark)
Love in Design Hannah Television film (Hallmark)
Christmas at Grand Valley Kelly Television film (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)
2019 Love and Sunshine Ally Craig Television film (Hallmark)
The Matchmaker Mysteries: A Killer Engagement Angie Dove Television film (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)
Christmas at Dollywood Rachel Television film (Hallmark)
2020 Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance Angie Dove Television film (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)
Christmas She Wrote Kayleigh King Television film (Hallmark)
2021 Matchmaker Mysteries: The Art of the Kill Angie Dove Television film (Hallmark Movies & Mysteries)
2021–2022 Home Economics Allison 2 episodes
2021 You, Me & the Christmas Trees Olivia Arden Television film (Hallmark)
2022 The Winter Palace Emily Miller Television film (GAC Family)
Domino Masters Herself Judge[26]
The Wonder Years Winnie Cooper Episode: "Love & War"
Christmas at the Drive-In Television film (GAC Family)

Music videos[edit]

Year Title Role Artist
1989 "No More Rhyme" Girl Playing Cello Debbie Gibson
2013 "Rock n Roll" Winnie Cooperre Avril Lavigne

Video Games[edit]

Year Title Role
2004 X-Men Legends Jubilee
EverQuest II Lolla Cotgrove / Pona
2006 Marvel: Ultimate Alliance Invisible Woman
2009 Marvel: Ultimate Alliance 2 Invisible Woman
2013 Young Justice: Legacy Miss Martian, Batgirl

Further reading[edit]

  • Belilovskaya, Liz (Fall 2013). The Wonder Kid. "Brain World" magazine. Vol. 5. New York City: International Brain Education Association. pp. 42–45. Interview of Danica McKeller with a full-page color photo


  1. ^ "UPI Almanac for Thursday, Jan. 3, 2019". United Press International. January 3, 2019. Archived from the original on January 3, 2019. Retrieved September 3, 2019. actor Danica McKellar in 1975 (age 44)
  2. ^ a b "Children's Books". The New York Times. September 28, 2008. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
  3. ^ "Math Books". DanicaMckellar.com. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
  4. ^ "Do Not Open This Math Book by Danica McKellar". PenguinRandomhouse.com. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  5. ^ "Danica McKellar". TVGuide.com. Retrieved August 13, 2016.
  6. ^ "Danica McKellar Biography (1975–)". FilmReference.com. Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  7. ^ "Frequently Asked Questions: ethnic background". Official website.
  8. ^ "Accomplished Members". alphadeltapi.org. Retrieved August 14, 2022.
  9. ^ Frazier, Kendrick (2008). "Mickelson, McKellar tout science, math, and being smart". Skeptical Inquirer. 32 (6): 12.
  10. ^ Chayes, L.; D. McKellar; B. Winn (November 13, 1998). "Percolation and Gibbs states multiplicity for ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller models on z2". Journal of Physics A: Mathematical and General. 31 (45): 9055. Bibcode:1998JPhA...31.9055C. doi:10.1088/0305-4470/31/45/005. ISSN 0305-4470.
  11. ^ "USNews.com: America's Best Colleges 2006: College Flashback: Danica McKellar". U.S. News & World Report. Archived from the original on March 14, 2008. Retrieved February 3, 2010.
  12. ^ Tao, Terence. "Blog post by mathematician, and a former instructor of McKellar's, complimenting her book and explaining the theorem".
  13. ^ Chang, Kenneth. "2005-07-19". The New York Times.
  14. ^ "There's not much separating her from Bacon, Erdős". USA Today. August 14, 2007.
  15. ^ Randle, Nancy (January 23, 1991). "Mirror Image: It's No Wonder Danica Mckellar Is A Winsome Winnie". Chicago Tribune. No. January 23, 1991. Retrieved May 1, 2015.
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  19. ^ Guerra, Joey (March 11, 2019). "Debbie Gibson's 'Electric Youth' album is 30 years old". Midland Reporter-Telegram. Midland, Texas.
  20. ^ "Danica McKellar pictures and bio". Stuff. Archived from the original on September 16, 2008.
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  22. ^ Cherkezian, Megan (November 17, 2006). "Wonder Years' Danica McKellar Fights Crime as "Inspector Mom"". TV Guide.
  23. ^ VanDerWerff, Emily (January 11, 2010). "The Big Bang Theory: "The Psychic Vortex"". The A.V. Club.
  24. ^ "96.5 TIC". 96.5 TIC. Archived from the original on January 30, 2014. Retrieved November 2, 2018.
  25. ^ "Dancing With the Stars Cast Revealed! Cody Simpson, Nene Leakes and James Maslow Are Among the Names—See the Full List!". E! Online.
  26. ^ a b Andreeva, Nellie (May 17, 2021). "'Domino Masters': Danica McKellar, Vernon Davis & Steven Price Set As Judges On Fox Reality Series". Deadline. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  27. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 26, 2022). "Fox Spring Premiere Dates: More 'Masked Singer'; '9-1-1' Return; 'Domino Masters' Debuts, More". Deadline. Retrieved January 26, 2022.
  28. ^ Smith, Tara (July 24, 2007). "Aetiology:Danica McKellar's "Math Doesn't Suck"". Aetiology. ScienceBlogs. Archived from the original on April 5, 2008. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  29. ^ Jones, Anthony Hamilton (2011). "McKellar, Danica: Maths Doesn't Suck". School Librarian. 59 (1): 62. ISSN 0036-6595. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  30. ^ Smith, Tara (July 25, 2007). "Interview with math whiz, author, and actress Danica McKellar". Aetiology. ScienceBlogs. Archived from the original on October 16, 2015. Retrieved July 26, 2007.
  31. ^ Danica McKellar (2008). Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-049-1.
  32. ^ Danica McKellar (2010). Hot X: Algebra Exposed. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-070-5.
  33. ^ "Actress Danica McKellar Solves For 'X'". National Public Radio. August 6, 2010. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved July 4, 2013.
  34. ^ Danica McKellar (2012). Girls Get Curves – Geometry Takes Shape. Hudson Street Press. ISBN 978-1-59463-094-1.
  35. ^ Lichtman, Flora (August 17, 2012). "Actress Danica McKellar Helps "Girls Get Curves"". Science Friday (Interview). Washington, D.C.: National Public Radio. Retrieved July 5, 2013.
  36. ^ Schuessler, Jennifer (August 22, 2010). "Children's Chapter Books". The New York Times. Retrieved August 23, 2012.
  37. ^ "Best Sellers: Children's Books". The New York Times. September 28, 2008. Retrieved May 10, 2009.
  38. ^ "Mathical Book Prizes 2021" (PDF).
  39. ^ "ABC News: Person of the Week: Danica McKellar". ABC News. Retrieved August 10, 2007.
  40. ^ Prizes And Awards (PDF). American Mathematical Society. January 2014. p. 35.
  41. ^ "Danica McKellar is Married!". People. March 22, 2009.
  42. ^ "Danica McKellar is Pregnant!". People. March 17, 2010.
  43. ^ "Danica McKellar Files for Divorce". People. June 6, 2012. Retrieved June 6, 2012.
  44. ^ "'Wonder Years' actress Danica McKellar files for divorce". Chicago Sun-Times. June 12, 2012. Archived from the original on July 11, 2012. Retrieved June 9, 2012.
  45. ^ "Danica McKellar Shares Insights from Homeschooling Her Son". Romper. January 25, 2021. Retrieved December 11, 2021.
  46. ^ "Danica McKellar Is Married!". People. November 20, 2014. Retrieved November 20, 2014.
  47. ^ Jirak, Jamie (November 27, 2019). "Danica McKellar sent Rian Johnson the perfect Knives Out gift". Retrieved January 16, 2021.

External links[edit]