Among the purposes of this site – Talent Development Resources – is celebrating multitalented creative people, and exploring how they realize their many talents.
In his post “That’s DR. Winnie to you: A New Child Star Stereotype” (on his Psychology Today blog), creativity researcher James C. Kaufman, Ph.D. writes about a number of people well-known as child stars, now grown, who have explored talents outside of acting.
He writes: “One of the research topics in creativity that has always fascinated me has been creative polymathy – the ability to be creative in more than one domain…”
“There are, of course, the child stars who are still actors (such as Christian Bale, Jason Bateman, Neil Patrick Harris, and Anna Paquin) or end up behind the cameras (such as Fred Savage, Peter Billingsley, and Ke Huy Quan) but what I find interesting are the other ones…
“Danica McKellar (‘Winnie’ on The Wonder Years) earned her Ph.D. from UCLA in mathematics, currently writes books promoting math, and has an Erdos number of 4 (it’s like the Kevin Bacon game for mathematicians.”
Kaufman notes other examples: “Missy Gold (‘Katie’ on Benson) received her Ph.D. and is now a clinical psychologist in Portland, Maine (under a different name). [See his post for more.]
In her article Picking their next role: Joe College or hot young star?, Amy Kaufman (Los Angeles Times, June 12, 2011) mentions Emma Watson, Blake Lively, Brad Pitt, Jodie Foster, Natalie Portman, James Franco, Shia LaBeouf and others who make decisions about developing their talents outside of acting.
Another example being actor Mayim Bialik, who earned her Ph.D. from UCLA in Neuroscience.
On “The Big Bang Theory” tv series, she plays Amy Farrah Fowler, a neurobiologist and “not-girlfriend” of physicist Sheldon Cooper.
Bialik commented that “having an understanding of both mental illness and neurosis has been tremendously helpful to me in my acting career.”
How does polymathy work?
In his post How Renaissance People Think – The thinking style of polymaths – Dr. Scott Barry Kaufman asks, “Do you think like a polymath? Here’s a quick test: Are you more of a rational or experiential/intuitive thinker?
“If you cringed as you read the question and thought to yourself ‘I love constantly shifting between both modes of thought’, then you’re on the polymath path.”
He says psychologist Seymour Epstein told him that “people who are high in both thinking style are Renaissance people. They have the brains of scientists and the sensibilities of poets. In other words they have the positive features of both thinking styles and do not have their negative features because they are kept under control by the other thinking style.”
My podcast interview: James C. Kaufman, PhD on creativity research
The Too Many Aptitudes Problem, by Hank Pfeffer
Creative Polymathy is one of the themes of my book
Developing Multiple Talents : The personal side of creative expression
Originally posted 2011-10-01 22:50:28.