When award-winning actress Julianne Moore was a little girl, she couldn’t see how her signature freckles and red hair made her unique. It wasn’t entirely her fault—after all, the neighborhood kids called her Freckleface Strawberry. Ouch!

But two incredible kids, a couple of Emmys, a Golden Globe, and some apps later, we’re pretty sure Julianne has gotten the last laugh. Especially since she’s turned that nickname into a New York Time’s Best-Selling book series as well as a new app called Freckleface Strawberry Dreamtime Playtime. The app is intended for kids 4 and up to help them build math skills. The main character, 7-year-old Freckleface Strawberry, takes users on a journey through her dreams and imagination as they play counting, sorting, and matching games together. The app is now available at the Apple App Store for iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPhone.

So we were thrilled to catch up with the original redheaded beauty to ask her how an Oscar nominee ends up writing children’s books, learn more about her latest app, and find out what her secret is to keeping her kids so grounded considering mom’s a pretty major movie star…

When you started writing, you were already a famous actress and mother of two, so why write the Freckleface Strawberry series?

My kids are 16 [son Caleb] and 11 [daughter Liv] now, but the first time I wrote, my son was seven. Seven is kind of the age when kids first become self-conscious about their physicality. My son had just had a haircut and he was looking in the mirror and he thought he looked weird. I had never heard anything like this from him before, and I remembered from when I was seven and I had this nickname Freckleface Strawberry because I had red hair and freckles. I especially hated my freckles. So that was how the first story started. And now I have a three Freckleface Strawberry books, another book called My Mom Is a Foreigner, But Not to Me, and two apps, so it just turned into this whole other thing.

Was there someone in your own life who inspired you to read as a child?

It was my mother. My mother read to us all of the time. We moved a lot and our first stop was always the library. We could check out whatever we wanted, [so] I’ve always encouraged the kids to read. I think it’s a wonderful way for kids to understand the concept of universality.

We love your second app, Freckleface Strawberry Dreamtime Playtime! Any reason you decided to incorporate math into this one?

When I was developing a second app, I really wanted developmental skills for children like counting, sorting, and matching. They’re very basic educational skills that can be put into a fun game for kids. Sorting is really one of my favorites because your sorting her [Freckleface Strawberry’s] friends and talking about what clothes they’re wearing. I think kids are interested in that—what other kids are wearing, who’s got what, what’s alike, what’s not alike—these are not apparent math skills to young children, even though they are.

And the Freckleface Strawberry voice on the app—is that your daughter Liv?

Yes! She did such a great job as the voice. She’s so adorable, and approachable, and real as the voice. That’s what I love about it. She’s a real little girl. That’s when they [children] listen—when they know they’re listening to a child rather than an adult doing a child’s voice.

We know you hightailed it from your Golden Globes win to NY to cheer on your son’s basketball team, which working moms everywhere can appreciate, and from what we know, your kids seem so well-adjusted. How have you been able to keep your family so grounded and out of the whole Hollywood/showbiz “thing”?

Well, we’re here [New York]. My son was born in LA but then we moved back to New York when he was like 4 months old or something, and we’ve been here. So I try to work in the summertime, or I work in town, or I commute. But we love it here [in New York]. My husband’s family is here, so I think that’s been really great for us to have family near and to be around the people we really want to be around.

The Freckleface Strawberry Dreamtime Playtime app is now available at The Apple App Store for iPad, iPad Air, iPad Mini, and iPhone for $2.99.

Tell us what you think of Strawberry Dreamtime Playtime app in the comments section below. 

— Jo Aaron

photo credit: Getty Images