Long before donning purple spandex and “the full armor of God” as Bibleman, Willie Aames was breaking teen hearts weekly as Tommy Bradford on the television series Eight is Enough. Young, good-looking and rich, Aames easily fell into a decadent Hollywood lifestyle. When Eight Is Enough was canceled in 1981, he went on to appear in a couple of films before returning to television as Scott Baio's irresponsible foil in the sitcom Charles in Charge.


Through much of the '80s, Aames battled cocaine and depression and became notorious in Hollywood for his erratic behavior. But by the time Charles was canceled in 1990, he had cleaned up his act, become a born-again Christian, and married for the second time.


In the mid-'90s, he began starring as an evangelical superhero in the Bibleman series of youth-oriented musical videos. Now Aames is the senior executive vice president of Pamplin Entertainment and Boisseau Filmworks, creating, directing and producing family entertainment products. His latest projest, The Missy Files, debuted on Nov. 18.

Dubbed a “feel-good dramedy” for girls, The Missy Files stars Aames’ daughter, Harleigh Jean Upton, and wife, Maylo McCaslin-Aames. “Harleigh was the entire source of my inspiration,” says Aames, who wrote, directed and produced the series. “Watching her learn and grow in beauty and character is one of the greatest joys of my life.”


Willie, Maylo and Harleigh Jean sat down together this summer with Crosswalk.com to talk about The Missy Files and the joys and struggles of family life in the spotlight.


Crosswalk.com:  Tell us about the genesis of The Missy Files. What made you decide to take on this project?


Willie Aames:  It started the same way Bibleman did. We saw there was this huge gap for boys between 6 and 12. There was nothing with action, nothing that would let a boy be a boy. You had a lot of cartoons – Veggie tales – for younger kids, but nothing for this group. As we began to do Bibleman and added Biblegirl, we noticed that the girls were really looking for something as well.


I actually came up with The Missy Files idea about three years ago, but we were so busy on the road that we never really got around to developing it. Last year when I came off the road, I had knee surgery. I had a lot of time to think and write. We started to put this together and got the green light to go for it 


There is nothing like it for the Christian audience. We tried to write it in a way that life meant something more than just a trip to the mall, but at the same time, maintain this kind of Cyndi Lauper style – to let people know that you can have a style all your own, have a lot of character and be intelligent.  My philosophy is that if you don’t ask kids to think, they won’t.