Voice of Experience
So is Melissa's résumé. She began performing at age 4 and at 13 appeared off-Broadway as William Hurt's flashback young love in Beside Herself; she has also been seen in Rice Krispies commercials and on Saturday Night Live. Rich Ross, Nickelodeon's vice president of talent relations, says Melissa was cast as Clarissa because "she's a little quirky, but not put-offish. There's not a jaded quality about her."
Premature ennui has little chance at the Hart house. There, Melissa's father, William, a lobster wholesaler, and mother Paula, a show-business manager for children, preside over their eldest daughter and her four acting siblings: Trisha, 12, Elizabeth, 10, Brian, 7, and Emily, 5.
When not taping Clarissa (in Florida, she stays in a Nickelodeon-owned condo with Mom or a nanny), the ninth grader at Sayville Junior High baby-sits ("I get $3 an hour") and indulges her tastes in ice cream (chocolate), TV (The Simpsons) and movies (Winona Ryder's).
This month Melissa will get her Florida driver's permit. You won't see that on TV: "They let Clarissa get away with a lot of stuff," says Melissa, "but not driving a car."
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