Actress Melissa Joan Hart first charmed American tweens as Clarissa on “Clarissa Explains it All” before assuming the iconic titular role in the hit series “Sabrina, the Teenage Witch.” Now 39, the talented actress is also a busy married mom of three boys who faces the ever-present challenge of effectively balancing work and family. Examiner caught up with the talented actress and clothing designer on Aug. 13 for an exclusive interview that touched on a number of topics, including how she makes dinner time fun for her three boys, her surprising opinion of what it was like to play Sabrina Spellman, and who she thinks should follow in her footsteps as a contestant on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Sherry Wight: I know you’re in Philadelphia; what takes you there?
Melissa Joan Hart: Old El Paso is launching their mini taco boats, so I’m talking a little bit today about back to school and how hectic that time can be for families. It’s bittersweet. The moms and dads are excited the kids are back at school… but there’s a lot on your plate: trying to get them out the door, dressed and fed, brushed teeth and lunchboxes full, and then they come home from school and it’s homework and sports.
So a great time to reconnect with your family is over dinner. A great way to do that is with these mini taco boats. They fit in the kids’ hands perfectly and make [mealtime] fun for everybody. Give them lots of [ingredient] choices and [let them build their own]. My picky eaters are more likely to eat a meal like that.
SW: Totally. I have three sons and a daughter and I get it. What other multitasking tips do you have for moms?
MJH: Well, I like to pack lunchboxes at night when the kids are finally asleep. [I feel like] I’m a little sharper at night than I am in the morning when the hustle and bustle is starting so that’s a good time for me to get the lunchboxes thought about; I put some things aside in the fridge and put stuff out on the counter so it’s ready to go in the morning.
I also like to get their outfits laid out. I just started a clothing line, King of Harts, and it’s a great little boys’ line of graphic tees and denim, and we have some plaid button downs right now and some great denim jackets and a parka jacket; great stuff for the winter time coming up. So I like to lay out their outfits… while you’re cleaning up breakfast [in the morning], you know they’re not digging through stuff and making a mess in the closet.
SW: Right. Or getting dirty clothes.
MJH: [Laughs] Exactly. Digging through the old hamper.
SW: I have to take some time to talk about your TV and film work. This will be totally random, but I love corny Christmas movies so much, so I like “Holiday in Handcuffs” a lot. What that one fun to do?
MJH: “Holiday in Handcuffs” was a great one to do. To play that kind of character who can’t quite get it all together; just really floundering and just failing constantly in the eyes of her parents. So that was a really fun character to play for sure. Mel on “Melissa and Joey” was a lot of fun for me too because she’s so flawed.
While Sabrina was very dear to everyone’s heart, Sabrina… was a little bit boring for me to play as a character because she was a girl who didn’t want too much attention, kind of wanted everything to go away, and not stand out too much. Wild things were happening around her, and in “Holiday in Handcuffs” and in “Melissa and Joey,” I felt like wild things were happening to me, [and] it’s much more fun to play those characters.
SW: Totally. So “Holiday and Handcuffs” also starred Mario Lopez, who also was on “Dancing with the Stars” like you were. Now that you’ve competed and know what it takes to be on that show, nominate someone who you think should take on the challenge.
MJH: I would like to see Soleil Moon Frye and Alisa Donovan, my two co-stars from “Sabrina,” do that show. Alisa’s been a dancer her whole life and I think she should get a shot at it for sure. And Soleil is a little bit two-left-feet, and I think it’d be fun for her to go out there and try to dance.
SW: Cool! What other new projects are on your calendar right now?
MJH: I just finished a movie in Arkansas called “God’s Not Dead 2.” The original came out last year, and this is the sequel coming out at Easter on big screens everywhere. Really beautiful movie. And also I’ve got some other things in the pipe for my company Hartbreak Films, and I’m focusing hard on my clothing line…. We’re doing all kinds of stuff for the holidays. We’re doing to do a charity tee shirt, and [we’re planning] all the designs for next season.
SW: One last thing that’s totally random before I go. What’s your favorite date night activity with your husband [musician Mark Wilkerson]?
MJH: We do not like date night. We like lunch dates. We like it when the kids are at school and we can find some time to be alone together during the day when we’re coherent [and] not tired. At night, we’re… paying a baby-sitter when the kids are in bed, so what’s the point? So we really like lunch dates.
For a chance to win free taco boats for a year, Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram and post a photo of what taco night looks like along with the hashtag #TacoBoatSweepstakes. Visit Old El Paso for full rules and details.