On Monday I got to sit in on a phone interview with Melissa Joan Hart, one of the stars of Melissa and Joey, airing on the ABC Family Channel. You may remember Melissa from Clarissa Explains it All and Sabrina the Teenage Witch. In her new show, Melissa plays a politico who suddenly finds herself taking care of her niece and nephew after their parents get into trouble. She hasn’t the first clue about parenting, so she hires a “Manny” played by Joey Lawrence, who is recently divorced and has lost his white collar job. Unlike shows like “Who’s the Boss”, which had a similar theme, Melissa and Joey is more focused on the adults and will highlight their relationship.
Melissa and Joey have worked together in the past and it’s apparent from the good chemistry the two have together. They also share a similar work ethic, which no doubt has contributed to their longevity in the business. Says Melissa,
We have a very strong relationship with our siblings and now we have great marriages and children, but we both have this incredible work ethic that I think comes from when we were younger just knowing that we wanted to be in the business and instead of shooting for the stars, instead of just like “I want to be famous, I want to be rich,” like a lot of I think kids do these days, we were more “I want to work. I want longevity. I want to do this.”
In an era when child stars seem to go the way of Lindsay Lohan, Melissa’s words are refreshing. Smart, funny, and as practiced in her craft as you’d expect someone to be who’s been acting since the age of four, in real life Melissa is a married mom with two young children learning how to balance career and work. About twenty minutes into the interview, I found myself thinking “Wow, she’s so nice . . . and normal.” Speaking candidly, Melissa talked about her life as a teen actress during her Clarissa years, away from home and surrounded mainly by adults, and about the amount of work it took to put that show together. She also spoke of the thrill of working on the Sabrina set where, for the first time, she worked with peers her own age, creating fun traditions like cookouts and a weekly bowling night . Some of those people have remained as close as family.
There are a lot of things Melissa loves about the new show, the wardrobe, being one of them. Working with old friends is another: Not only is Joey on the set, but she’s working with lots of familiar talent from her past. But what struck me is that was she truly loves the chance to make people laugh. Sitcoms, she said, make her happy. I had a chance to watch the show the other night and you can see that. It’s cute and funny. And yeah, I like the clothes too.
Best of luck to Melissa in her newest endeavor.
Melissa and Joey airs tonight 8:00 p.m. eastern on the ABC family channel. You can also get caught up with pervious episodes here.