Melissa Joan Hart Talks About Taking on More Dramatic Roles After Years of 'Nickelodeon Acting' (Exclusive)

The actress tells PEOPLE there was a "learning curve" to feeling comfortable taking on dramatic roles after being on children's television

<p>Nickelodeon;Lifetime</p> Melissa Joan Hart.


Melissa Joan Hart.

After more than 35 years in the entertainment industry, Melissa Joan Hart has stepped into her fair share of roles.

The actress, now 48, says she likes to “mix it up” when choosing the genre of character she embodies. However, it took some time for her to get there.

“I love doing these true crime movies because I never trusted myself to do drama when I was younger,” Hart, who stars in the upcoming Lifetime movie The Bad Guardian, tells PEOPLE. "I did, when I was really young, I was actually in one of the episodes of The Equalizer, when I was about seven years old … and did some other dramatic roles — that was easy for me when I was a child. But then, as I got more comfortable with comedy, it was harder for me to flip into drama.”

<p>Showtime/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty </p> Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina.

Showtime/Disney General Entertainment Content via Getty

Melissa Joan Hart as Sabrina.

Hart says that coming up on kids’ television, which included a starring role on the Nickelodeon series Clarissa Explains It All from 1991-1994 and later on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, fostered those comedic skills.

Related: Melissa Joan Hart Is 48! Enjoy 10 Perfectly Magical '90s Photos of the 'Teenage Witch' in Her TV Heyday

“Comedy is so much about gesturing and big facial expressions, especially on Nickelodeon. When you learn Nickelodeon acting, it's like, do you want look number one, number two, or number three?,” she says, changing her face into three different expressions. “You are trying to do the different looks and make it big.”

“And then taking it down for drama was a real learning curve for me again,” she adds. “So it's been really interesting to dive more into the dramatic stuff and trust myself with it.”

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Hart’s latest project, which premieres on May 18, follows the story of what happens when “Leigh's (Hart) father Jason (Eric Pierpoint) suffers a fall while she's out of town [and] the courts assign Jason a guardian," according to an official synopsis. While at first the guardian, portrayed by La La Anthony, seems to be a helpful addition, the official description explains that things “quickly take a terrible turn.”

<p>Lifetime</p> Melissa Joan Hart and Luis Bordonada in "The Bad Guardian"


Melissa Joan Hart and Luis Bordonada in "The Bad Guardian"

Hart says she was “captivated by the script” and that while Britney Spears and Wendy Williams might be more “big-name victims of guardianship and conservatorship,” this film has more of a “small town perspective.”

“In the Britney version we see in real life, for her, it's her fighting to get out of her own conservatorship,” Hart explains. “This movie is very much about me, the daughter of a man who's been taken to the hospital and then from there put into a guardianship. So I'm a small-town woman that doesn't have the money to pay for the big fancy lawyers to fight the big system.”

Related: Melissa Joan Hart Reveals Who She's Still in Touch with from Clarissa Explains It All (Exclusive)

“It's a little Erin Brockovich in nature,” she adds.

While continuing her work in front of the camera, the mother of three has also been lending her spare time to the World Vision organization to help combat poverty — specifically in Zambia — where she has sponsored three children to date.

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The Bad Guardian premieres May 18 on Lifetime.

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Read the original article on People.