Melissa Joan Hart has been regularly appearing on our TVs at Christmas time for the past few years. But you won't find the former teen star appearing on the Hallmark Channel. The actress is one of the main leading ladies featured on Lifetime as part of its annual Christmas series, It's a Wonderful Lifetime.
Hart was born and raised in Sayville, New York, and was acting from the time she was just 4 years old. What started as a career appearing in commercials turned into regular appearances on TV shows. She appeared on Kane & Abel, The Equalizer, and Another World before landing the lead role of Clarissa Darling on the Nickelodeon series Clarissa Explains It All. Though Hart briefly attended New York University after Clarissa ended, she dropped out when she landed another lead role playing Sabrina Spellman in the film Sabrina the Teenage Witch which then turned into its own TV series. She was also known for appearing in numerous popular teen films like Can't Hardly Wait and Drive Me Crazy (yes, named after the Britney Spears song).
Even as an adult, Hart led an ABC Family sitcom opposite Joey Lawrence, Melissa & Joey, but has since been focused on TV film projects and even working behind the camera. Really, her new career as a Christmas movie star was kicked off when she starred opposite Mario Lopez in the ABC Family TV movie Holiday in Handcuffs. It's one of the most ridiculous holiday movies out there and it's still hilarious, with Hart's starring role finding love during the holidays under extremely bizarre circumstances.
Since forming a partnership with Lifetime, Hart is even producing some of their films with her production company Hartbreak Films. In the past few years, she produced and starred in A Very Nutty Christmas as well as A Very Merry Toy Store and Christmas Reservations. This year, you name it, and she's doing it. Hart directed Mario Lopez in Feliz NaviDAD, was a producer for the Vanessa Lachey film Once Upon a Main Street, and starred in Dear Christmas with Jason Priestley. She's definitely been busy!
Hart explained to EW that she probably won't be appearing on Hallmark anytime soon because she's now known as "a Lifetime girl." Though she has appeared in one Hallmark film, Broadcasting Christmas.
"Actually, I think it's more that Hallmark is proprietary with their people. I'm now a Lifetime girl, and I need to stay in my place. There's this division that doesn't let people cross over, necessarily. I would love to do a crossover with Candace [Cameron Bure] or Lacey Chabert or some of these girls that I adore and love. Danica McKellar. But we're zoned — the Jets and the Giants never play against each other because they're in different conferences. It's kinda like that."
Outside of her career, Hart married musician Mark Wilkerson in 2003 after meeting the previous year at the Kentucky Derby. They even televised their Florence, Italy nuptials in an ABC miniseries produced by her own production company, Tying the Knot. The couple has three children together, sons Tucker, Braydon, and Mason. The family owns homes in Los Angeles, Lake Tahoe, and even Connecticut but have been primarily based on Tahoe for a few years. Hart commutes for work to provide balance for her children and her husband stays home manning the fort. She told EW that just like in her films, Christmas is a very important time of year for her family and she definitely feels the pressure since she's now become a permanent Christmas fixture on TV.
"My Tacky Sweater Party has become quite iconic. And in that case, I've had to really live up to this Tacky Sweater Party. And it's really hard, year after year. I mean, how far can you really go with a sweater? There's only so much you can do — so much bedazzling, so many things you can hang off of it, so many funny sayings you can have on it."
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