People say that opportunities come only once in a lifetime, and you have to be ready to take them. But there are some lucky few that get a second chance to shine. That’s exactly what happened to Mayim Bialik — she started her career with a starring role when she was very young, retired many years later, then came back to acting. Although you could say that she is very lucky, she’s actually much more than that. Bialik has worked all her life and has fought against many obstacles in order to fulfill her dreams.
Bright Side reviewed some of the most important moments of her career so that they can serve as inspiration for those who, like her, want to see their wishes come true.
Bialik was born in 1975 in San Diego, California, to a family of Jewish immigrants. 3 of her grandparents had emigrated from the old continent and raised the entire family in their traditions. She remembers, “My parents were first-generation Americans, so they had a very strict immigrant mentality.”
Even though she started working on TV at a very young age as an extra and in minor roles, her parents never treated her differently. “They treated me like a normal girl who had to go to school, do her homework, and wait for my brother to come get me.”
At the age of 11, after working as an extra periodically, she managed to appear in 2 films, Pumpkinhead and Beaches. In an interview, she revealed, “I don’t consider myself a child actress because I started acting almost in high school. Most child actors started when they were little. They have different expectations. I had a different perspective.”
Soon after at the age of 14, she got her first break as a leading actress in the TV series, Blossom, a show ahead of its time. “It was an anomaly in 1990. It was about a young girl who was unconventional, quirky, smart, funny, and spunky. Our show touched on issues that were very controversial at those times,” Bialik said in an interview.
Bialik says that despite being really famous during the time the series was airing — she started there when she was only 14 and stayed until she turned 19, and she always kept things in balance thanks to the support of her family. “Everything was very serious on the set, and that is very important,” Bialik said.
After 5 seasons were released from 1991 to 1995, Blossom came to an end. In the last episode, her character said goodbye to the series with these words: “Life is not made of poetry, or songs, or dreams, but real things… Here’s the advice: try to take it by the handle.”
While filming Blossom, one of her mentors instilled in her a love of science. “I thought science was hard, and I assumed there was something in me that wasn’t for that. She showed me that science is for women, it’s exciting, and you can fall in love with science like you can fall in love with literature or art… And I began to see myself as a scientist,” Bialik said in a video.
So then, when the series was over in 1995, she enrolled at the University of California with the intention of leaving acting behind and becoming a scientist or professor: “I made the decision to leave acting because I wanted to have a degree in neuroscience. I had other interests. I think women should be encouraged to try many things, especially with the underrepresentation of women in science. It took me 12 years, I had 2 children, and that became my main life’s work.”
After earning her PhD in neuroscience in 2007, Bialik’s plan was to stay in academia, but that changed after she became a mother of 2 beautiful boys, Miles and Frederick. She fell in love with attachment parenting, but understood that it was a lifestyle not compatible with academic life. So for the second time in her life, she decided to change careers. “Putting the kids in daycare or moving away from them…the latter played a big part in the decision,” she reflected in an interview.
In 2005, she returned to acting with the comedy film, Kalamazoo, and she also appeared in several TV series, such as Curb Your Enthusiasm, Fat Actress, and 7th Heaven. When asked about this, she said, “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.”
Then in 2010, when she appeared in the last episode of the third season of The Big Bang Theory, fame came knocking back at her door. In season 4, she got a recurring role and became an audience favorite. But it was more than just the joy of being in front of the cameras that drew her back to acting.
“The truth is that I was running out of health insurance and I realized that if I could get a few jobs here and there, it was enough to have the Actors’ Association insurance. I didn’t expect to be a full-time actress, but The Big Bang Theory drew me in,” the actress explained.
The year 2010 was an intense one for Bialik. She released her first book, Beyond the Sling: A Real-Life Guide to Raising Confident, Loving Children the Attachment Parenting Way, where she looks back at some of the key moments of her life, like leaving college and devoting herself completely to raising her children in this way. Over the years, she has edited several other books on this topic, as well as a couple of books on vegan food and nutritional juicing.
After the end of The Big Bang Theory, in 2019, Bialik took a couple of years off to work on her personal projects. Still, she made sporadic appearances on different quiz shows. In 2021, she was offered a lead role in a series by the name of Call Me Kat.
“Jim Parsons (Sheldon on The Big Bang Theory) brought me this project he had with his company. He said to me, ’If anyone can look adorable and be a little bit annoying, it’s you!’ For a 45-year-old woman, I don’t want to say my days are numbered, but I want to capitalize on the moments when people want to see you and live comedy with you,” Bialik said in an interview. The series was renewed for its second season and premiered in January 2022.
In addition to her own series, Bialik has started to be more open about her mental health. Last year, she hosted a podcast where she interviewed celebrities about the importance of being healthy. She revealed, “My family history includes depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic…. I have sought out support groups that were very helpful to me and my family.”
Thanks to her experience, she now seeks to help others like her. “I want to inform and raise awareness to make the world of mental health smaller and smaller. When people speak out, it’s very important that they fight against these illnesses.” Her help is not limited to opening the conversation about this topic. In her special appearance on Jeopardy! as a host, she did so on behalf of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), raising a large donation and being able to talk about mental illness on a national level.
Mayim Bialik continues to impress thanks to her energetic and optimistic personality. In 2019, she started writing a screenplay for a movie, called As They Made Us. Although it was delayed several times, the movie was filmed in 2021 and was released in April 2022. It is a family drama starring Dustin Hoffman, Simon Helberg (her co-star on The Big Bang Theory), Candice Bergen, and Dianna Agron.
Bialik isn’t afraid to start over, she’s already done it a couple of times in her life — first giving up stardom, then her academic life for the sake of her kids. Now, she continues to use her new career momentum to generate outreach and dialogue about mental health. With all this work, she proves that it’s never too late to start over as long as you do what you love and do it for the people you love the most, starting with yourself.
What other life stories have inspired you? Tell us in the comments.