I noticed there were so many people, especially women, who would come up to me having recognized me from TV and say, 'I heard you were a math person, why math? Oh my gosh, I could never do math!' I could just see their self-esteem crumbling; I thought that was silly, so I wanted to make math more friendly and accessible.
I took a break from acting for four years to get a degree in mathematics at UCLA, and during that time I had the rare opportunity to actually do research as an undergraduate. And myself and two other people co-authored a new theorem: Percolation and Gibbs States Multiplicity for Ferromagnetic Ashkin-Teller Models on Two Dimensions, or Z2.
I wasn't in school often enough to really belong to a 'clique,' but my friends all studied hard and got pretty good grades. They were good people with self-respect. I still like to be friends with people I admire something about; I really believe that we become like the people we're surrounded by, so I choose my friends carefully!
If I'm teaching girls that do love to make cookies and do love fashion - that they can use math as a part of that - you think that's me saying, come on girls you belong in the kitchen, you belong shopping? Or, do you think it's me showing them how math is part of all their life, even the part they thought it had nothing to do with?
You can be obsessed with makeup and hair products and, you know, your appearance and still be absolutely making smart life decisions and work on your smarts, develop your smarts by studying something like math. Then you'll make much better decisions on the brands of clothing that you buy or whatever it is that you want.
So somebody told me that if I wasn't a coffee drinker yet, by the end of college I'd have to be, because a math major is so tough I would have to stay up very late. I was going to need coffee to do that. Well, merely because they said that, I never drank coffee in college, never got addicted to it, never needed it.