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The Transformation Of Mayim Bialik From Childhood To The Big Bang Theory

When Mayim Bialik auditioned for "The Big Bang Theory," it was clear she was perfect for the part. But she'd never even seen the sitcom. All she really knew was that she was once referenced on the show for her previous work.

"Someone had told me that in some season of 'The Big Bang Theory,' they mentioned that the girl from 'Blossom' is a scientist," she told "ET." So when somebody told me that I thought, 'Oh, it must be a game show, like, a trivia thing.'"

By the time she appeared as Dr. Amy Farrah Fowler at the end of Season 3, she knew better, of course. And though her guest role wasn't expected to last, by Season 4, she was a regular member of the main cast. Bialik developed her character's standout traits (socially awkward, seriously smart, and surprisingly dedicated to the elusive Sheldon) by tapping into her own background, beginning with a career as a child actor. Here's how she transformed over the years leading up to her best-known role.

Bialik broke out in "Beaches"

Bialik's breakout role came along when she auditioned to play young C.C. Bloom in the 1988 movie "Beaches." The process took four months and she figured there was no way she'd get the part. Her hair was the wrong color, and at age 12, she saw that as an insurmountable problem. Of course, all it took was a wig to alter her appearance and the rest — the accent, the singing, the vivacious personality — was all her. It's hard to imagine any other little girl as the child version of Bette Midler's character.

Between takes, Bialik was just like any other kid, relishing Nathan's hamburgers for lunch and naps in her trailer on particularly hot days. But when the cameras were rolling, she was 100% on, delivering a performance that won rave reviews (despite many critics not enjoying the rest of the film) and launched her into a life she'd never imagined.

"It was this movie that changed my life and catapulted me into working on sitcoms, which determined the course of my career and life," she wrote on her website, Grok Nation. "'Beaches' is hard for me to watch because I'm awkward and my voice is annoying to me and that's just the truth. But I am so honored to have been a part of this movie which has touched so many lives and hearts."

She blossomed on her own show

Two years later, Bialik began starring in NBC's "Blossom," a sitcom centered around a teenager living with her father and two brothers after their mother leaves the family. It tackled all kinds of issues, including motherless parenting, drug abuse, sibling rivalry, and divorce — and Bialik loved working on it with her costars Ted Wass, Michael Stoyanov, and Joey Lawrence.

"This show was for sure an anomaly when we came out in 1990," she told US Weekly. "A show about a girl was unheard of on network TV at the time and people thought we were nuts to try it."

Throughout five seasons, Bialik grew up on screen while playing Blossom. She described the character as "unconventional, quirky, smart, fun and fearless," and like Bialik, she was growing up, too. By 1993, Bialik felt ready for college and though she was accepted at Yale, Harvard, and UCLA, she took a deferment to finish the show first. After "Blossom" wrapped in 1995, she earned her B.A. in 2000 and her Ph.D. in 2007, pivoting her life in a new direction once again. Now a neuroscientist, she thought her time in the entertainment industry was over.

Even Bialik was surprised when she returned to full-time acting

Bialik took a long break from full-time acting while raising young children, teaching neuroscience, and tutoring students in Hebrew and piano. But eventually she realized she wanted to spend more time with her kids. Plus her health insurance was running out.

"I figured if I can just get even a couple (acting) jobs like here or there, I'll be able to get insurance again," she said on "The Social," according to CBR.com. "I did not expect to be a regular on a television show."

In 2010, Bialik landed a recurring role on ABC's "The Secret Life of the American Teenager," starring Shailene Woodley. As Dr. Wilameena Bink, Bialik played a high school guidance counselor with a quirky backstory. Working with a younger cast was a change from her previous acting jobs. She told PeopleTV, "It definitely felt like I was this old dinosaur coming in ... I had a great time being the old lady on the block."

Bialik appeared in six episodes of the show, and by the end of her time there, she'd already landed her next big break. As a skilled actress with uniquely extensive neuroscience knowledge, she couldn't have been better prepared to play Amy Farrah Fowler on "The Big Bang Theory."