Danica McKellar, the star of the Matchmaker Mysteries film series on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, is a seriously accomplished woman.
She's also incredibly kind and charitable, and that's why I knew chatting with her while the country (and the world) experiences one of the worst situations in modern times would somehow be uplifting.
I wasn't wrong.
Like most everyone else, Danica is feeling the crushing weight of stress during the coronavirus pandemic, but she has made rising above it seem effortless.
Danica is a wife and mother, and she shares her gifts with the world not only through her acting and writing (mathematics books for children, in particular) but as an education and family advocate.
So I looked to her for inspiration. If a woman with a slate as full as Danica's can find a way to keep it together and the less fortunate, then maybe we can all find a way to incorporate some of that through her example.
And while the world initially drops a plethora of memes suggesting that it can be daunting spending time locked down, especially with children, Danica has found the light inside of that darkness.
"I'm feeling really grateful for all the extra family time, trying to focus on the good stuff. Spending a lot of time trying to figure out ways to help others," Danica said.
The Cameo service has gotten some extra traction during the pandemic, and Danica uses her appearances to generate donations for causes close to her heart. "People pay for a personalized video shout out, and then I donate all my proceeds to kid's charities," Danica shared. She's currently giving to No Kid Hungry, an organization focused on helping the kids most affected by the pandemic.
"I just donated $3,000 last night to it. And this is all from just doing personalized video shout outs. So I spend a lot of time doing stuff like that."
Danica admits that the sadness people are suffering right now is very difficult to fathom, so she's putting those feelings to good use by focusing her energy on ways she can help.
After speaking with some teachers and administrators who related the frustration many parents are feeling as they begin homeschooling their children, Danica took action.
"I've been making homeschooling videos with for parents because I know a lot of parents are really struggling with schooling their kids at home. And I'm trying to emphasize the importance of having patience with your kids."
"I started making videos working with Penguin Random House, putting out content to help parents understand some tricks," Danica said. "I've been homeschooling my child forever. He's nine years old and homeschooled the whole time, so I have a lot of tips and tricks that I can share with parents, like how you get your kids to focus better."
Danica expanded on that a big and even offered some suggestions to make the most of your time together.
"I think one of the biggest issues that we're seeing is a lack of patience for kids being kids. And parents are used to having a break from their kids when they go to school. And not only are they not getting that break, but they're in charge of overseeing the schooling.
"Kids aren't used to doing that at home. I think that the mantra is just have patience with your kids. And I would say lower expectations. Just lower your expectations of them for now. And get lots of hugs in.
"And lower your expectations of, 'Oh, they're supposed to get this much school done every day. And they're supposed to behave this way.' Try to have a picnic in your backyard with them. Just snuggle. If they have a book they need to read, if you can, get on the couch with them and read it with them for a little while. Anything you can do.
"Obviously parents are busy, and they've got stuff they've got to take care of too."
"You know, what's funny is that this really has created a sense of rest, in a lot of ways, that I don't usually afford myself. I would say not only be patient with the kids, but be patient with yourself, lower expectations of yourself as well. And I certainly have.
"I didn't do yoga every day. It just felt so good. And I just had this feeling of like non-urgency in a way that I don't usually have. I usually have a sense of urgency with everything that I'm doing.
"And it's kind of like trying to look for those silver linings, trying to look for the good sides. And part of it is a little more rest than normal. So that's something positive that I hope that people will look for and embrace, recognize.
None of this action means that Danica isn't experiencing some anxiety of her own during the pandemic. She admits questioning what's next. "I've gone, 'What is happening? What is life? I don't understand.' Because everything looks so different."
"And then there is Hallmark Channel. Hallmark Channel is just helping to calm people down. And I'm so happy that I get to be a part of that as well," Danica said.
And if you're a fan of Hallmark, then you know they roll out a lot of original content. There is more than most people can watch, so that means turning on one of their networks can often introduce you to something new to you, even if it's not new to the network.
A passionate advocate for Hallmark's Christmas lineup, Danica is pleased that the networks are re-airing some cherished holiday content to evoke that warm, fuzzy feeling the holidays bring during a time we could all use a hug.
"People love Christmas," Danica said. "And Christmas is so comforting. It's about reconnecting and warmth and fuzzies. When people are getting scared, it's just such a wonderful antidote with these Hallmark movies."
As for Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance, Danica loves the depth a film series allows for the characters and story.
"what I love about getting to do more than one movie with the same director is that you do get that time of character development. And slowly but surely, you get to know people. And my favorite part of the second one is the fact that my ex-boyfriend is actually the lead suspect," Danica laughed.
"So you get to see a peek into Angie's past, and there's that whole pseudo-love-triangle dynamic between Kyle Cooper, the detective, and her ex-boyfriend, Ethan Payne. And what's great too is that they're both 6'5", they're both incredibly tall and handsome.
"So there's this automatic competition between them just based on their appearance, which is kind of funny. There's an automatic rivalry, I mean. So there's nothing outward in terms of romance between Angie and Kyle, but there's always been that sort of something under the surface.
"Just kind of under the surface is a question, like are they interested in each other? And in this one, we get to explore that a little bit more. And with the added element of the ex-boyfriend, of course, it adds an interesting layer."
Knowing that it's already been revealed in a behind the scenes video promoting the movie, Danica shared one of her favorite moments from A Fatal Romance. "Ethan and Angie are on a date, and Kyle comes in and arrests Ethan from the date."
Danica laughs, "I just have to imagine that if you are a guy, and you're feeling jealous about the woman you have a crush on, and she's out on a date with someone, if you get to arrest that guy, throw him in jail, that's got to be pretty satisfying. I just thought that was a very funny moment to have it."
And if you've seen the promotion surrounding A Fatal Romance, you know that Victor Webster and Dan Payne have a certain similarity around them. Angie's got a type!
"Yeah, she sure does. And Paige called her out on it. That was actually a scene where Paige says, 'You sure have a type, tall dark and brooding.'That was a line that was added to the script after Dan Payne had been cast as Ethan.
"So we were midway through shooting, and suddenly this scene shows up. And I'm like, 'Oh my God, that's perfect.' It's so great because we didn't know that the person who was being cast as Ethan was going to be so similar to Victor. But it was perfect because then, yes, Angie now has a type. She actually likes tall, dark and brooding," Danica laughed.
Danica is always busy working on more ideas for the series, and she shared one that made her giggle. "I'd like to see Angie on a date, like on a blind date. I'd like to see her get set up with someone to see just had bad she is at implementing her own advice. I think that'd be really funny."
Danica loves connecting with her fans, and she has a lot of social media accounts dedicated to Matchmaker Mysteries, too.
She's decided to make the premiere a whole lot of fun for everyone involved, especially if you take the time to live-Tweet with her tonight.
She's @danicamckellar and the franchise is @matchseries. She's also sharing information on Instagram, in particular, instructions on how you can participate with some giveaways. She's making it all very special.
And if you read one of our previous interviews with Danica, then you know that she was absolutely delighted with a shout-out in the recent feature film, Knives Out. She's taken that to heart, and fans of the film and the movie franchise get a chance for a one-of-a-kind surprise inspired by the faux Hallmark movie called Deadly By Suprise.
A good time is sure to be had by all, so make a point to visit her social media to get in on all of the excitement that will be playing out during the airings of Matchmaker Mysteries: A Fatal Romance.
And if you're wondering where you can find some of the tips and tricks for family and education that Danica mentioned earlier, you'll find a lot of on her Instagram page. She's a writer, and right now, she's an open book trying to offer as much encouragement and support to others as she possibly can during this tough time.
Be sure to tune into Hallmark or Hallmark Movies and Mysteries tonight at 9/8 to watch Danica, Victor Webster, and Bruce Boxleitner breath life into another Matchmaker Mysteries movie, A Fatal Romance.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She's a member of the Critic's Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.