DWTS Alum Reveals She Beat Out Her Sister for Life-Changing TV Role

Danica McKellar

Getty Actress Danica McKellar.

”Dancing with the Stars” alum Danica McKellar had some stiff competition when she auditioned for her breakout role on  “The Wonder Years” in the late 1980s.  Ahead of the ABC coming-of-age comedy’s 35th anniversary, the former child star told TV Insider that she competed against her younger sister, Crystal, for the iconic part of Winnie Cooper.

McKellar told the outlet that Winnie was “just supposed to be a guest role on the first episode” and not a series regular, and that she went head-to-head against her sister for the one-off spot as lead Kevin Arnold’s (Fred Savage) childhood crush.

“Ultimately, they chose me, but they said, ‘We love Crystal so much, we’re going to write a role for her.’ And they did,” McKellar said.

Once the show was picked up as a series, they wrote the role of Kevin’s short-time girlfriend-turned-tormentor, Becky Slater, for Crystal McKellar. “[She was ] the little blonde nemesis of Fred Savage for a while,” Danica said. “They dated for a little while, then they were enemies. We got to do some scenes together, and it was amazing.”

Danica appeared in 114 episodes of “The Wonder Years,” while Crystal turned up in nine.

In January 2023, Danica shared photos from her “Wonder Years” days on Instagram, including one of her and her sister with co-stars Fred Savage and Josh Saviano. “On January 31st, 1988, we premiered on @abcnetwork immediately following the Superbowl, and my life would be forever changed,” she captioned the post.

Danica McKellar Said Her Mom Originally Didn’t Want Either Daughter to Have a Full-Time TV Role


Danica previously opened up about “The Wonder Years” audition process and competing against her sister while speaking with ABC News.

“Crystal and I both auditioned for the part of Winnie Cooper and it came down to the two of us,” she said in 2014. “They ended up hiring me, but they said they loved Crystal and they meant it. They said, ‘We’re gonna write a part if this goes to series,’ and they wrote a part for her.”

Danica also said that her mother had serious reservations about her taking the role, which would go on to be a full-time acting job from 1988 to 1993.

“My mom said, ‘Listen, they’re offering for this to be a series regular,” she recalled. “We have to think about this. This could really change your life and acting is supposed to just be a hobby.’”

Danica said she “begged” her mom to let her take the job, and that they ultimately hired a good lawyer to protect her in case she needed to get out of her contract.

Both Sisters Have Successful Post-‘Wonder Years’ Careers

While Danica still acts and is a Hallmark Channel fan favorite, she also graduated with a degree in mathematics from UCLA. The numbers whiz wrote 10 books about math, according to Forbes.

Her little sister pretty much gave up acting in 1991, per IMDb. The outlet noted that around the age of 12, Crystal decided to stop auditioning for roles because she felt the audition sessions were “like huge crowded cattle calls.”

Crystal graduated from Yale and then Harvard Law School in 2003, according to The Daily Mail, and she now works as a lawyer in the venture capital field.

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