I’m a child of the nineties and Melissa Joan Hart’s feisty female characters played an intricate role in my formative years. I remember watching Clarissa Explains It All (along with Hey Dude, Good-burger and All That) on Nickelodeon as a kid, although it must have been reruns since Clarissa‘s original run was over before I turned six. My favorite Melissa Joan Hart role had to be Sabrina the Teenage Witch, which I watched when it was in its heyday but also seemed to play in constant reruns while I was in college.
Melissa was a child star who viewed acting as a hobby; she went on auditions they way you and I may have gone to soccer practice or played the violin. When she was fourteen she landed the role of Clarissa Darling and made history as one of the first girls to be the lead in a tween TV series. Her role on Clarissa Explains It All split her life between her family in New York and her career in Orlando, FL where she lived in a studio rented apartment with a guardian.
I learned a lot about Melissa that, despite being a fan in the late ’90s and early ’00s, I didn’t know before. She credits her untarnished image to sowing her wild oats in the era before TMZ. It’s hard to imagine Sabrina smoking weed, dropping Ecstasy and being a bad influence on a newly famous Britney Spears but if Hart’s memoir is to be believed she had a bit of a wild streak in her early twenties. She has come a long way from Playboy mansion parties- she now lives in a Connecticut suburb with her husband and three sons.
Melissa and her mother formed a production company, Hartbreak, prior to Sabrina‘s premier, which has been behind most of Hart’s post –Clarissa film and television roles. While she is mainly relegated to ABCFamily made-for-TV movies and that horrible sitcom with fellow ’90s star Joey Lawrence, Melissa Joan Hart survived her childhood relatively unscathed and still in a position to make money acting professionally. Her memoir is fluffy and full of interesting tidbits (she made out- and rejected- both Ryan Reynolds & Jerry O’Connell) about a decades long career in the limelight.