'Big Bang Theory's' Mayim Bialik Talks Career, Faith, Motherhood and Real-Life Love of Science
The mother of two and former neuroscience professor believes people can have — and pursue — multiple passions: "I think all people can have more than one interest."
Big Bang Theory's Mayim Bialik will continue entertaining fans as Amy Fowler on the CBS comedy when its season nine premiere airs Sept. 21, but aside from her career on-camera, Bialik told The Hollywood Reporter about life behind the screen, including motherhood, her passions, faith and encouraging students to love math and science.
The four-time Emmy-nominated actress starred in the TV series Blossom as a child actor, but later put the craft on hold to pursue education. After earning a Ph.D in neuroscience from UCLA, Bialik taught biology, chemistry and neuroscience at the collegiate level before jumping back into auditioning.
Though she was able to split her time between teaching and acting during her first year on the show, Bialik eventually had to make a choice between performing and working as a professor: "There came a point where I could no longer be a full-time scientist, teacher or tutor because The Big Bang Theory is a full-time job," she told THR.
While Bialik's wide-ranging passions may be a surprise to many, she doesn't believe people have to choose one over another. "I think all people can have more than one interest. Just because someone is a scientist doesn't mean they're [not] creative," Bialik said. "Just because someone works in the creative world doesn't mean that they’re not also interested or skilled at science."
As a way to stay involved in the science and math world while working as a full-time actress, Bialik is a spokeswoman for Texas Instruments (TI) and devotes her time to spreading the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) subject material to students nationwide. TI and Bialik have partnered for a contest for classrooms to win a visit from the actress.
"I think that there's a need for a very strong emphasis on STEM subjects here. It's kind of an undercapped and underdeveloped resource that we have. In particular, the representation of women is historically lower in these fields, so I'm happy to put a positive face on STEM and a female face on [it]," she said.
Off camera, Bialik has another full-time job: motherhood. The mother of two sons says she has no "secrets" to pursuing her passions, juggling a career and parenthood. "I don't have any major secrets. My kids' dad is with them when I'm working and whether you're divorced or married, that's kind of how it has to work," she explained. "There's no magic. I don't have a nanny. I don't use anyone except my kids' dad to watch them, and when I'm not working I'm with them and when I am working, he's with them. That's kind of how we juggle it."
Bialik, who is a devout Jew, recently made comments about religion in Hollywood and how having faith in the industry will never be "trendy." "It's funny because I don’t feel like I said anything controversial that isn't already totally known by everyone in and out of the industry," she said. "A lot of people don't talk about [faith] because it's not trendy."
She continued, "A lot of people just don't feel comfortable talking about [faith]. Part of it is because it's been kind of posed as intellectual versus ignorance, meaning that religious people must be ignorant and so a lot of us don't want to engage in those conversations."
She recently started a website, GrokNation, that serves as a conversation platform for people to share their opinions openly. "Working on my website is something that's super important because we're trying to bring together lots of these kind of ideas: talking about science; talking about geek culture; talking about faith and talking about women's issues." She added: "This website's kind of the first thing that feels like it's totally me and we're hoping to really build a community of people who are interested in learning about new things."
For curious Big Bang fans, Bialik said that season nine will "definitely deal with the Sheldon and Amy relationship right off the bat in the first couple of episodes ... our last script was really, really great. It was a total girl's plot and total boy's plot; none of us interacted. It was just all seen in Penny's apartment for the girls and all seen with the guys on a road trip."
Catch Bialik on Big Bang's season nine premiere Sept. 21 at 8 p.m. on CBS.