Mayim Bailak spent her formative years in front of the world, starring in films such as Beaches, and her most recognizable role on Blossom. The 34-year-old actress took the road less traveled, and traded in acting for academia. After completing her PhD in neuroscience from UCLA, Bialik married Michael Stone, and the couple welcomed two sons, Miles, 4, and Frederick, 1. Bialik, who is a spokesperson for The Holistic Moms Network, sat down with Popeater to dish about child stardom, family values, and returning to acting after a long hiatus.
On growing up in the spotlight: “There is no formula for how to make any kid turn out OK. Whether they’re in the industry or not. 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.”
On her family’s values while growing up: “I knew Corey [Haim], we ran in the same circles and we did publicity stuff together. 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.”
Her take on child-stardom: “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.”
On her return to acting: “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. 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.”
On choosing to be home with her children over academia and acting: “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. 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.”
The down-to-earth mama, who has an upcoming guest-star on The Big Bang Theory, has hopes for a permanent home on television, saying, “I am looking for a series. I mean, theoretically, that’s where I could see my life going.”