Q&A: The Big Bang Theory’s Mayim Bialik Relaunches Her GrokNation Website With a Lifestyle Theme

She's partnering with former YM and Sassy editor-in-chief Christina Kelly

Three years after launching her website GrokNation, Mayim Bialik is giving it an ambitious overhaul. James Banasiak
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Mayim Bialik has always wanted more out of her career than just acting. TV audiences know her as The Big Bang Theory’s Amy Farrah Fowler (who is engaged to Jim Parsons’ Sheldon Cooper in the show) or as the star of NBC ’90s sitcom Blossom; on top of that, she’s also a neuroscientist in real life, and she’s a passionate writer about topics like parenting and Judaism on her website GrokNation—which is about to get a big overhaul.

Partnering with new editor-in-chief Christina Kelly (who formerly oversaw Sassy and YM), Bialik is relaunching GrokNation on Thursday. The relaunch positions GrokNation as a lifestyle site that covers news, style, soul, culture and home, with an approach to create greater consciousness and improve the world.

Bialik spoke with Adweek about GrokNation’s relaunch, why being outspoken can make it tough for her to work with brands and what she’ll do after The Big Bang Theory ends its run.

Adweek: When you launched GrokNation in 2015, what were your initial hopes for the site?
Bialik: I was part of the early waves of blogging as a mom before I was on The Big Bang Theory. My closest friend Immanuel Shalev, who is now the CEO of all things GrokNation, had strongly encouraged me to create my own platform where I could talk about more things than I had been blogging about. That was really the impetus for starting my own website, was to have a place for me to share my writings on things more than just Judaism or parenting.

What prompted the relaunch and GrokNation’s expansion into a lifestyle site?
Since we started, Immanuel, our founding editor Esther Kustanowitz and I, have been trying to figure out, what are we? Who are we? What is our target demographic? You could assume, maybe, women who grew up watching me in Blossom. But we have a much broader demographic than we even realized.

So it’s been two years of research, followed by a lot of handwringing and trying to figure out how we can meet the needs of our audience, who seem to really want this kind of information. We spoke to Christina Kelly, who was one of the editors of Sassy magazine, which basically raised me as a teenager. I reached out to her to get her thoughts, and she happened to be putting herself back out there in the editorial world. I practically got down on my knees and said to her, “Will you help us build this?” So it was really her wisdom and her decades of experience in the magazine world that allowed us to [make the transition].

After the relaunch, how frequently will we see content from you on the site, and what will your involvement be like behind the scenes?
I’ll probably be writing at least once a week, but I would guess you’ll see me more like twice a week at launch. I’m not as involved as I’d like to be, but I’m probably just about as involved as I should be. Which means, I need to trust Christina and [managing editor] Dalene Rovenstine. I tend to want to micromanage everything, that’s just my personality, but they know a lot more about most aspects of this.

I’m much more active, I think, than people would expect from a site sponsored by a celebrity, meaning this is not something I can just put my name on and go about my day. It’s something that I am involved with literally every day in some way or another, whether it’s publicity for the site, or writing, or speaking with editors or planning new pieces. So it’s a daily part of my life.

Will you be working with any brands on GrokNation’s relaunch?
Up until now, we have not been a sponsored site. This was something that started small, and now it’s getting big. With big comes more structure. Our interest is to find brands who are aligned with the philosophy we have. A lot of it, again, is an exploration: How can we best meet our needs without people feeling like they’re constantly being flooded with information that they’re not coming to the site for? This is something I’ve never really known about, so I’m learning as I go.

"This is not something I can just put my name on and go about my day."
Mayim Bialik, on GrokNation


@jasonlynch jason.lynch@adweek.com Jason Lynch is TV Editor at Adweek, overseeing trends, technology, personalities and programming across broadcast, cable and streaming video.
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