Melissa Joan Hart is aware she will always be recognized as pizza-loving Clarissa Darling from Nickelodeon’s “Clarissa Explains it All” or the enchanting Sabrina from “Sabrina the Teenage Witch” — and the former child star doesn’t mind it one bit.
These days, the 41-year-old has been busy tackling on a completely different role — being a mother to three boys. When Hart isn't taking on a film or TV show, she prefers to be at home as a hands-on parent in Connecticut.
Hart, a passionate advocate for nurturing the creativity of children, recently partnered with Jif Peanut Butter to announce the finalist for the Imagine If, With Jif contest. It features three inspiring kids with entrepreneurial ideas for making the world a better place.
Fox News spoke with Hart about Clarissa, Sabrina and Melissa the mom:
Fox News: How does it feel to still be recognized for your characters?
Melissa Joan Hart: I think that’s what every actor really wants, right? Everyone wants that one character who’s iconic, lives on and still lives in people’s memories. I’m just honored I have people tell me every day ‘I grew up with you.’ It’s just so lovely... Everyone thinks I went to high school with them… They all feel like I’m a friend and that’s such an amazing feeling.
It can be annoying sometimes when people come up to you in public and you’re in a bad situation, like you're running to the airport, your dog just died and you have to make an impression in 15 minutes that’s going to defy how that person thinks about you. But at the same time, when people say those things, and you know you were such a special part of their life, it’s just amazing.
Fox News: Do you stay in touch with any of your former cast mates?
Hart: Oh yeah. [The 'Sabrina' cast], we were all together last week… Beth Broderick (Zelda) and I actually did a movie that will be out soon called 'A Very Merry Toy Store' for Lifetime. She plays my mom. Caroline Rhea (Hilda) and I stay in touch and she comes up to Connecticut to visit with her daughter. And the rest of us just email and text. I’m not in touch with the 'Clarissa' cast anymore.
Fox News: How did you avoid the child star curse?
Hart: A lot of credit has to go to my parents and the way I was raised. And also being the oldest sibling with all of these kids and having a sense of responsibility for them. And I was kept out of Hollywood. I filmed my first show in Orlando... I feel like keeping me grounded, keeping me out of the spotlight so much maybe kept me out of trouble.
Fox News: 'Sabrina' is getting a reboot. What’s your impression of it?
Hart: Obviously, all these people are looking for reboots now. They seem to do well. But I think it’s going to be different. Ours was a family comedy and theirs is going to be a darker, millennial soap opera. It’s a definitely a different show.
Fox News: Where would your character be now?
Hart: … I think Harvey and I, we would probably be running like a Hogwarts school for witches with our children.
Fox News: I read that you initially said no to horror films.
Hart: I made a very conscious decision at the time. Just because the movie 'Scream' was so good and so popular, I just didn’t want to be in a movie that was trying to live up to that, but somehow not make it. That’s why I chose not to do those horror movies that followed on its heels. I just thought none of them were as good as 'Scream.' But then, I turned down so many film roles at the time. It was extremely difficult to do movies and do my show at the same time.
But with that being said, I do regret it slightly. It’s probably the one place in my career where I could have done more good as far as giving myself up in terms of a film career. If I had gotten a few more films under my belt, then maybe it would have helped. But at the time, I just made a very conscious decision not to do a B-horror movie. I just didn’t want to be in one of them.
Fox News: What’s life been like for you as a mom?
Hart: When I had my kids, the intention was for me to raise them. I had always planned on being a hands-on mom. You know, I just wanted to be the mom who bakes the cupcakes, walks the kids to the bus stop, go to the PTA meetings and all that. And so, when I got 'Melissa and Joey,' it became a little bit more difficult for me to be involved in day-to-day activities.
But since the show ended, and having my third son, I really get to be home… This is what I wanted when I had children and what I imagined what life would be like with my family. It’s nice that I have the kind of career where I can work sometimes, but I also can be a full-time mom,
Fox News: How do you balance having a high-profile life all while being a dedicated wife and mom?
Hart: Well, that’s the trick! Basically, my calendar is my best friend. I have a well-scheduled calendar that tells me exactly where I’m supposed to be and when. I know what my obligations are. I love it when I plan my week. And that’s where I look to see where I can fit in things, like workouts and girl lunches, and just making sure I get date nights with my husband and see my family…. It’s an everyday balancing act… But I try to make it all work, realizing that I’m always going to be tired. But that’s OK!
Fox News: What made you want to participate in this campaign for Jif?
Hart: Oh, I just think it’s a wonderful thing they’re doing. You know, giving grants to kids and families that have wonderful ideas… How great it is, especially in these days where there just seems to be a lot of bad news going around – it’s nice to have something positive where they’re looking for people that are looking to improve the future.