Mayim Bialik

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Mayim Bialik
Mayim Bialik, March 2018 (4116) (cropped).jpg
Bialik in 2018
Born
Mayim Chaya Bialik

(1975-12-12) December 12, 1975 (age 46)
EducationUniversity of California, Los Angeles (BS, PhD)
Occupation
  • Actress
  • game show host
  • author
Years active1987–present
Spouse
Michael Stone
(m. 2003; div. 2013)
Children2
Scientific career
FieldsNeuroscience
ThesisHypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader-Willi syndrome (2007)
WebsiteOfficial website

Mayim Chaya Bialik (/ˈmɪm biˈɑːlɪk/ MY-im bee-AH-lik; born December 12, 1975) is an American actress, game show host, and author. From 1991 to 1995, she played the title character of the NBC sitcom Blossom. From 2010 to 2019, she played neuroscientist Amy Farrah Fowler on the CBS sitcom The Big Bang Theory, for which she was nominated four times for the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series[1] and won the Critics' Choice Television Award for Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series in 2015 and 2017.

In August 2021, it was announced that Bialik would host the primetime version of Jeopardy! After Mike Richards stepped down from hosting the syndicated version of the show later that month, Bialik started concurrently hosting that version as well (sharing duties with Ken Jennings).

Early life and education[edit]

Mayim Chaya Bialik[2] was born on December 12, 1975, in San Diego, California,[3][4] to Beverly (née Winkleman) and Barry Bialik.[5][6][7] Her family were Jewish immigrants who lived in the Bronx, New York City.[8] Three of her four grandparents migrated from Poland, Czechoslovakia, and Hungary.[9] She was raised as a Reform Jew[9][10] but now considers herself Modern Orthodox Jewish.[11][12][13] Bialik became a Bat Mitzvah[14] and has called herself a "staunch Zionist".[9] Her name, Mayim ("waters" in Hebrew[15]), originates in a family nickname of her great-grandmother, Miriam.[16] The Hebrew-language poet Hayim Nahman Bialik was her great-great-great-granduncle.[17]

Bialik graduated in 1993 from North Hollywood High School in North Hollywood, California.[18] In acknowledgment of her acting commitments, she was granted a deferred acceptance and attended University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).[19][20] She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in neuroscience, with minors in Hebrew and Jewish studies, in 2000.[21][22]

Bialik has said she did not have the grades needed for medical school.[23] She went on to study for a doctorate in neuroscience. She took a break from studies in 2005 to return to acting.[24] She returned to earn her Doctor of Philosophy degree in neuroscience from UCLA in 2007 under Dr. James McCracken.[2][25] Her dissertation was titled "Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative and satiety behaviors in Prader–Willi syndrome".[2][26]

Acting career[edit]

Bialik at the rehearsal for the 1989 Academy Awards

Bialik started her career as a child actress in the late 1980s. Her early roles included the 1988 horror film Pumpkinhead (her first acting job)[27] and guest appearances on The Facts of Life (two final-season episodes) and Beauty and the Beast. In 1988–89, she appeared in eight episodes of the sitcom Webster as Frieda, Webster's classmate. It was for Beauty and the Beast, where she played a sewer-dwelling girl named Ellie (with about ten lines of dialogue) that she obtained her Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card.[28] She appeared in three episodes of MacGyver as Lisa Woodman. She appeared in Beaches (1988), playing Bette Midler's character as a young girl. Many contemporary reviews singled out her performance as a strong point in an otherwise emotionally contrived and formulaic film.[29][30][31] She appeared in the music video for Michael Jackson's song "Liberian Girl". In 1990, she was tied to two television pilots, Fox's Molloy and NBC's Blossom. Molloy produced six episodes for a tryout run, followed by the shooting of the pilot special for Blossom. The latter aired two weeks before the Fox series and garnered higher ratings. When Molloy folded after its six episodes, Blossom premiered as a mid-season replacement on January 3, 1991, and aired until May 22, 1995.[32]

On September 8, 1992, Bialik was a celebrity contestant guest in the episode "Disturbing The Heavenly Peace", the first episode of the second season of the PBS game show Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego?. She had a major part in the Woody Allen comedy film Don't Drink the Water in 1994. Between 1995 and 2005, she mostly did voiceover work for cartoons, such as The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest, Disney's Recess and Kim Possible, Cartoon Network's Johnny Bravo, and Nickelodeon's Hey Arnold!. She appeared in the feature film Kalamazoo? (2005) and in three episodes of the HBO comedy series Curb Your Enthusiasm as Jodi Funkhouser, the daughter of a friend of Larry David. The character transitioned to male in a later episode, going by the name Joey, and was recast to Chaz Bono. Bialik also made guest appearances as a fictionalized version of herself in the series Fat Actress and in an episode of Saving Grace.[33]

Bialik at the 36th Annual Gracie Awards in 2011

Bialik had a recurring role as the high school guidance counselor in ABC Family's The Secret Life of the American Teenager. In 2009, Clinton Kelly nominated her for a makeover on TLC's What Not To Wear.[33] She joined the cast of The Big Bang Theory as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler in 2010. Her first appearance was in the season 3 finale as a potential love interest for the character of Sheldon Cooper (Jim Parsons). In season 4, she began as a recurring character playing Sheldon's "friend that's a girl, but not a girlfriend." Beginning with the 8th episode of season 4, she became part of the main cast.[34] Amy is a neurobiologist, which is related to Bialik's real-life doctorate in neuroscience. Bialik's performance in The Big Bang Theory earned her Emmy Award nominations in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series. Bialik was one of seven actresses who had a "quirky" personality to audition for the role.[35] Before she joined the cast, in the episode "The Bat Jar Conjecture", Raj suggests recruiting the real-life Bialik to their Physics Bowl team, saying "You know who's apparently very smart is the girl who played TV's Blossom. She got a Ph.D. in neuroscience or something." She is one of the guest stars on the 2014 Steve Carell improvisational sketch show Riot.[36][37][38]

In August 2014, Bialik began hosting a revival of Candid Camera on TV Land along with Peter Funt.[39] Her most recent movie appearance was in a Lifetime Christmas movie, The Flight Before Christmas.[40]

In 2019, Bialik appeared in a commercial for IBM.[41] On August 20, 2019, it was announced that she and her new production company, Sad Clown Productions, had signed exclusive contracts with Warner Bros. Entertainment. Mackenzie Gabriel-Vaught, a former executive at Chuck Lorre Productions, is Sad Clown's head of development.[42] Sad Clown Productions, in conjunction with Jim Parsons's That's Wonderful Productions, BBC Studios, and Miranda Hart, executive-produces a starring vehicle for Bialik, Call Me Kat, based on the British series Miranda. A co-production of Warner Bros. and Fox Entertainment, it premiered on Fox on January 3, 2021[43][44] and was renewed for a second season in May 2021.[45]

From May 31 to June 11, 2021, Bialik was a guest host of Jeopardy![46] On August 11, 2021, it was announced that she would host the series' future primetime specials and spinoffs.[47][48] When executive producer Mike Richards resigned as host after one week, it was announced that Bialik would guest-host the show for three weeks.[49] Her contract was extended to seven weeks; she will then alternate with Ken Jennings for the rest of the calendar year.[50] On December 8, 2021, it was announced that Bialik and Jennings will continue to host the show for the rest of the 2021–22 season.[51] On July 27, 2022, it was announced that Bialik and Jennings will be the show's permanent hosts in a job-sharing arrangement.[52]

Other works and writings[edit]

Grok Nation[edit]

Bialik founded Grok Nation (originally styled "GrokNation") in August 2015 to facilitate conversations among people of different ages and backgrounds about contemporary issues. It aimed to engage readers in online conversations that lead to offline action, mobilizing them to change the world as a community. To grok means to understand in a profound manner. (The term comes from the 1961 science fiction novel Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein.) Bialik had written on a similar idea for JTA-affiliated Jewish parenting site Kveller for five years. She announced and described her new creation on Kveller.[53][54][55]

Along with former Sassy writer and editor Christina Kelly, Bialik relaunched Grok Nation as a women's lifestyle site in March 2018.[56] The site ceased updates in March 2019, with new content shifting to Bialik's email newsletter.[57]

Books[edit]

Bialik has written two books by herself, and two books with pediatrician Jay Gordon. Beyond the Sling[58][59] is about attachment parenting, while Mayim's Vegan Table contains over 100 of Bialik's vegan recipes.[60][61] Her third book, Girling Up, is about the struggles of and ways in which girls grow up, showing the scientific ways in which their bodies change. Its successor, Boying Up (2018) analyzes the science, anatomy, and mentality of growing up as a boy, and the physical and mental changes and challenges boys face while transitioning from adolescence to adulthood.

The New York Times op-ed[edit]

After the Harvey Weinstein sexual misconduct allegations surfaced, Bialik wrote a New York Times op-ed in which she described the entertainment industry as one "that profits on the exploitation of women ... [and] the objectification of women".[62] With regard to protecting herself from sexual harassment, Bialik wrote that she dressed modestly and did not act flirtatiously with men, adding, "In a perfect world, women should be free to act however they want. But our world isn't perfect. Nothing—absolutely nothing—excuses men for assaulting or abusing women. But we can't be naïve about the culture we live in." Bialik's article drew backlash from critics who said she was insinuating that modesty and a conservative wardrobe can guard one against sexual assault. Patricia Arquette tweeted, "I have to say I was dressed non-provocatively at 12 walking home from school when men masturbated at me. It's not the clothes."[63] In response, Bialik said she regretted that the piece "became what it became" and participated in a Facebook Live event hosted by The New York Times to answer questions about it.[64][65][66][67]

Podcast[edit]

In January 2021, Bialik started the podcast Mayim Bialik's Breakdown, which focuses on mental health issues.[68]

Film[edit]

Bialik wrote and directed her first film, As They Made Us, about a divorced mom juggling her family's needs and her own quest for love. Dustin Hoffman and Candice Bergen starred as well as Simon Helberg, Bialik's former The Big Bang Theory castmate.[69] The film was expected to premiere in late 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic delayed filming. Ash Christian was attached to the project, but died in August 2020.[70] Principal photography began in June 2021.[71] The film was released on April 8, 2022.[72]

Personal life[edit]

Bialik married Michael Stone on August 31, 2003, in a Victorian-themed ceremony that included traditional Jewish wedding customs.[73] They have two sons together.[74] They announced their divorce in November 2012,[75] and it was finalized six months later.[76]

Bialik returned to television in 2010, as opposed to continuing her scientific career, so she could spend more time with her children.[35]

In a 2012 interview, Bialik called herself an "aspiring Modern Orthodox".[13] During the 2014 Gaza Conflict, she donated money to the Israel Defense Forces for armored vests.[77] She has also appeared in several YouTube cameos as Blossom and Amy Farrah Fowler, asking questions about Jewish beliefs.[78] The videos are produced by Allison Josephs, Bialik's Judaism study partner, whom she met with the help of Partners in Torah.[79]

In 2014, Bialik was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Boston University.[80][81]

Bialik is a vegan[82] and a founding member of the Shamayim V'Aretz Institute, a Jewish organization that advocates the ethical treatment of animals.[83] In 2017, she announced that she and vegan chef Ali Cruddas had opened Bodhi Bowl,[84] a vegan restaurant in Los Angeles. It closed permanently in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[85]

She said on The Late Late Show with James Corden that she identified herself as a feminist.[86]

In a 2009 interview, Bialik said of her family: "We are a non-vaccinating family, but I make no claims about people's individual decisions. We based ours on research and discussions with our pediatrician, and we've been happy with that decision, but obviously there's a lot of controversy about it."[87] In October 2020, amid the COVID-19 pandemic, she said that though she had not received a vaccination in 30 years, she planned to be vaccinated against both the flu and the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and that "[as] of today, my children may not have had every one of the vaccinations that your children have but my children are vaccinated. I repeat, my children are vaccinated."[88]

Filmography[edit]

Film[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1988 Beaches Young Cecilia "CC" Carol Bloom
1988 Pumpkinhead Christine Wallace
1990 The Kingdom Chums: Original Top Ten Petey Voice
2006 Kalamazoo? Maggie Goldman
2011 The Chicago 8 Nancy Kurshan
2022 As They Made Us N/A Director

Television[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1987 Beauty and the Beast Ellie Episode: "No Way Down"
1988 The Facts of Life Jennifer Cole Episodes: "The Beginning of the End" and "The Beginning of the Beginning"
1988–1989 Webster Frieda Recurring role (Season 6)
1989–1990 Empty Nest Laurie Kincaid Episodes: "The R.N. Who Came to Dinner" and "Harry Knows Best"
1989–1990 MacGyver Lisa Woodman Recurring role (Season 5 and Season 6)
1990 Doogie Howser, M.D. Candace Episode: "Ask Dr. Doogie"
1990 Molloy Molloy Martin Lead role
1990 Murphy Brown Natalie Episode: "I Want My FYI"
1990 The Earth Day Special Herself Television special
1990–1995 Blossom Blossom Russo Lead role
1991 Sea World's Mother Earth Celebration Herself Television special
1992 Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? Herself Guest role
1993 The Hidden Room Jillie Episode: "Jillie"
1994 Don't Drink the Water Susan Hollander Television film
1994–1995 The John Larroquette Show Rachel Episodes: "The Book of Rachel", "Rachel and Ton" and "Rachel Redux"
1995–1996 The Adventures of Hyperman Brittany Bright Voice; Main role
1996; 1999 Hey Arnold! Maria Voice; Episodes: "6th Grade Girls" and "Phoebe Skips"
1996 Aaahh!!! Real Monsters Cindy Voice; Episode: "Wake Me When It's Over"
1996 The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest Lucy / Julia Voice; Episodes: "Assault on Questworld" and "The Alchemist"
1997; 2000 Recess Kirsten Kurst Voice; Episodes: "The Break-In", "The Girl Was Trouble", "Lawson and His Crew", "My Funny Valentines" and "Kurst the Not-So-Bad"
1997 Johnny Bravo Tour Guide Voice; Episode: "Going Batty"
1997 Extreme Ghostbusters Girl in Future Voice; Episode: "Ghost Apocalyptic Future"
1998 Welcome to Paradox Rita Episode: "Alien Jane"
2001–2002 Lloyd in Space Mean Cindy Voice; Recurring role (Season 12)
2003 7th Heaven Cathy Episode: "Dick"
2004 Kim Possible Justine Flanner Voice; Episode: "Partners"
2005 Katbot Paula Voice; Recurring role
2005 Fat Actress Herself Episode: "The Koi Effect" and "Holy Lesbo Batman"
2005; 2007 Curb Your Enthusiasm Jodi Funkhauser Episodes: "The Bowtie", "The Ida Funkhouser Roadside Memorial" and "The TiVo Guy"
2009 What Not to Wear (American TV series) Herself Season 7 Episode 1
2009 Saving Grace Esther Episode: "Mooooooooo"
2009 Bones Genie Gormon Episode: "The Cinderella in the Cardboard"
2009 'Til Death Herself Episodes: "The Break-Up", "Merit Play" and "Baby Steps"
2010 The Secret Life of the American Teenager Dr. Wilameena Bink Recurring role (Season 23)
2010 Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Herself / Expert Season 8
2010–2019 The Big Bang Theory Amy Farrah Fowler Guest role (Season 3)
Main role (Season 4Season 12)
2011 The Dog Who Saved Halloween Medusa Voice; television film
2012 Survivor: One World[89] Herself/Attendant Reality; Episode: "Reunion"
2014 Candid Camera Host Season 38
2014 Stan Lee's Mighty 7 Lady Lightning Voice; Television film
2015 Blaze and the Monster Machines Great Sphinx Voice; Episode: "Race to the Top of the World"
2015 The Flight Before Christmas Stephanie Michelle Hunt Television film
2016 Star vs. the Forces of Evil Willoughby Voice; Episode: "Fetch"
2017 MasterChef Junior Guest judge Episode: "Batter Hurry Up"
2017 Rhett & Link's Buddy System Glenda Episode: "To Kill a Robot”
2017 Drop the Mic Herself Episode: "Mayim Bialik vs. Kunal Nayyar / Ashley Tisdale vs. Nick Lachey"
2020 Celebrity Show-Off Herself Host
2020 Match Game Herself Celebrity panel
2020, 2022 Young Sheldon Amy Farrah Fowler Voice; Episodes: "Graduation", "A Suitcase Full of Cash and a Yellow Clown Car"
2021–present Call Me Kat Kat Main role and executive producer
2021–present Jeopardy! Herself Host, 10 episodes (season 37), 115 episodes syndicated (season 38), 9 episodes ABC (season 38)[90]
2022 Celebrity Jeopardy! Herself Host

Web[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
2013 Untitled Web Series About a Space Traveler
Who Can Also Travel Through Time
B.O.O.T.H. Voice; Episode: "Second Season Prequel"
2016 Yidlife Crisis Chaya Episode: "The Double Date"
2017 Rhett and Link's Buddy System Pathologist
2017; 2018 Good Mythical Morning Herself Episodes: "What's On My Head?", "3 Monkeys Blindfold" and "Dissecting A Frog"
2018 The Super Slow Show Herself Episode: "Slow Learners"

Video games[edit]

Year Title Voice role Notes
2003 X2: Wolverine's Revenge Bush Pilot / May Deuce
2020 Borderlands 3 Herself

Written works[edit]

  • Bialik, Mayim Chaya (2007). Hypothalamic regulation in relation to maladaptive, obsessive-compulsive, affiliative, and satiety behaviors in Prader-Willi syndrome (PhD thesis). University of California, Los Angeles. OCLC 732917927. ProQuest 304879069.
  • Bialik, Mayim; Jay Gordon (Introduction) (2012). Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way. Touchstone. ISBN 978-1451662184.[91]
  • Bialik, Mayim; Jay Gordon (2014). Mayim's Vegan Table: More Than 100 Great-Tasting and Healthy Recipes from My Family to Yours. Da Capo Lifelong Books. ISBN 978-0738217048.[92]
  • Bialik, Mayim (2017) Girling Up: How to be Strong, Smart and Spectacular. Philomel Books. ISBN 978-0399548604.[93]
  • Bialik, Mayim (2018) Boying Up: How to be Brave, Bold and Brilliant. Philomel Books. ISBN 978-0525515975.[94]
  • Bialik, Mayim (2021) Flash Facts. DC Comics. ISBN 9781779503824[95]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominee Result
1988 Young Artist Award Best Young Actress in a Motion Picture Comedy or Fantasy Beaches Won
1990 Young Artist Award Best Young Actress Guest Starring in a Television Series Empty Nest Nominated
1992 Young Artist Award Best Young Actress in a New Television Series Blossom
1993 Young Artist Award Outstanding Young Comedian in a Television Series
2012 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series The Big Bang Theory
Online Film and Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Satellite Award Best Supporting Actress - Series, Miniseries or Television Film
2013 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Online Film and Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
2014 Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Comedy Series
Online Film and Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Young Hollywood Award Best On-Screen Couple (with Jim Parsons)
TV Guide Award Favorite Duo (with Jim Parsons)
2015 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Online Film and Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Primetime Emmy Award Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
2016 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series
Online Film and Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
2017 Screen Actors Guild Award Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series Nominated
Online Film and Television Association Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series
2018 Critics' Choice Television Award Best Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series Won
2019 Jew in the City Orthodox Jewish All Stars Keter Shem Tov Award[96] Herself Won

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Media offices
Preceded by Guest host of Jeopardy!
May 31 - June 11, 2021
Succeeded by
Preceded by Host of Jeopardy!
(primetime)
(syndicated; rotating with Ken Jennings)

September 20, 2021 – present
Succeeded by
Incumbent