James Monroe Iglehart on Hamilton, Karaoke, and His Favorite Books

Courtesy of Hamilton on Broadway.
Courtesy of Hamilton on Broadway.

James Monroe Iglehart is Mental Floss’s kind of person: He loves books, collects toys, enjoys classic cartoons, and is a fan of all things feline. The actor says his two cats, Hissy and Zoe, are queens of the apartment he shares with his wife Dawn. Zoe, for example, won’t drink tap water, because when she was young, Iglehart gave her cold bottled water every day. “Fast forward 14 years,” he says, “and this is how the cat owns us: I have to put water [from the Brita pitcher] into the bottle, put the cap on. Walk in front of the damn cat, open up the bottle of water so she can see it. And then she’ll be like ‘Oh, now I can drink it.’ Boss of the house. Total queen.” You can tell by the way he's laughing that he's totally fine with that fact.

Of course, cats weren’t all we talked about with Iglehart. After three years playing the Genie in Broadway's Aladdin, he took over the dual roles of Lafayette and Jefferson in Hamilton last month. Iglehart spoke to Mental Floss about researching the men behind the characters, his dream Broadway roles, and how karaoke changed his life.

How did you get involved in Hamilton?

I have known [creator] Lin-Manuel Miranda, [director] Tommy Kail, [music director] Alex Lacamoire, and [choreographer] Andy Blankenbuehler for many years. I’m part of a group called Freestyle Love Supreme with Lin, Chris Jackson [the original George Washington], and Daveed Diggs [the original Lafayette/Jefferson], and Tommy is the director.

When Lin and those guys were in In the Heights, I went over to the Richard Rodgers Theatre and said, “What you working on?” Lin said, “A mixtape about the life of Alexander Hamilton.” I was like, “Oh, cool … Why would you do that?” and he broke it down, like, he’s got all these beats for all these forefathers, and it would be really cool to make them like rap battles, like Biggie and Pac. And I was like, “Actually that sounds pretty cool. I’m always ready to get myself into something. If you need a brother let me know.” He said, “Yeah, I’ll let you know.”

A couple of years later we do this concert at Lincoln Center and I get a call, and he says, “I wrote this part Hercules Mulligan to be like Busta, and I want you to do it.” Half of the concert was showing Lin’s love of hip-hop and the other half was showing this new project, The Hamilton Mixtape. That same night [director and choreographer] Casey Nicholaw was in the audience and said, “Hey, we’re starting Aladdin again.” And I went off to do Aladdin because that was the job, and I had this dream, and I wanted to do it.

I watched Hamilton blow up to this juggernaut thing, and three years in they called and said, “Hey, you’ve been with Aladdin for a while. What do you think about stepping back into the Hamilton family?” and I was like, “That sounds like fun.”

I auditioned with “Guns and Ships,” “Washington On Your Side,” “Dear Theodosia,” and “Alexander Hamilton.” They gave me a stack of music to learn in a week, and I quickly learned it and walked in and did it. And that’s how it happened.

How did you prep for the role? Did you look into the lives of Jefferson and Lafayette at all?

I did a little bit of research. I Googled the Marquis de Lafayette, because he’s the one I really didn’t know about. He was 19, and he asked the French to send him to America. He was badass in France. For him to come over here and to have people go, “Yeah, whatever.” Franklin went, “No, this dude is someone you should look at.” And when he saw Franklin’s name on it, Washington was like, “You’re with me.”

I also did some studying on Thomas Jefferson. What I think is great about Thomas Jefferson is the fact that he just didn’t want to be involved in anything. He’s like, “If I can just stay here on my farm and kick it I will. Wait, you need me to come in? OK, fine.” You just assume that every one of our forefathers wanted to get this country going. Some of them were just like, “Come on, England ain’t bad. Do we really have to fight?”

It’s funny. Thomas Jefferson is known for this one written thing, and of course the Louisiana Purchase. But when it comes to writing, being prolific, Hamilton’s got him beat.

It’s literally like—this is going to get me killed—there’s a Michael Jackson album and then there’s that vault that Prince has. So Michael has Thriller, yes, wonderful. But Prince is like, “Yeah, but I got 15,000 albums in here, and you’ve only heard 100 of them. And each one of my albums may not be a number one hit, but each one is a damn classic. My musicianship has influenced rockers, not just R&B people.”

It’s very similar to Thomas Jefferson. Tom comes in with this attitude of like, “Yo, I wrote this paper. I’m the baddest man in the world,” and Hamilton is like, “Man, I’ve built a financial empire. Don’t start with me.”

It was fun studying these guys, and seeing the realness of it, and trying to bring a little bit of that swagger in a short amount of time. Because you could make a musical about Burr, about Lafayette, about Jefferson. But how do you bring that kind of swagger into this, especially after Daveed has created such a great moment—what do you do? So I said, OK, let me bring a little bit of my swagger with what I know, and see what happens. And so far, so good.

What has been like the hardest part of it to master? The French accent?

The French accent is not the hardest, it’s not the speed of the lyrics, it’s not the show—it is the stairs. There are stairs going up, and then there are stairs going down. And there’s stairs going down onstage, stairs going off. What you don’t see are the two sets of stairs behind. So my first act as Marquis de Lafayette, I walk up the steps, I walk down the back steps, I dip the jacket, walk back on, walk up the steps again, walk down the steps. There’s one song I walk up the steps four times. Between “Helpless” and “Satisfied” I walk up the steps six times, because we have to rewind. My calves were like, “What are you doing?”

I mean, I did a cartwheel eight times a week and tap danced in Aladdin. But on this show, I cussed—I was like, “What’s up with this Stairmaster show you guys built?” I said, “I understand why everybody looks the way they do in this show. It ain’t got nothing to do with the dancing, it’s the damn steps.”

Who do you like playing better?

I love the Marquis de Lafayette, but I love Thomas Jefferson. What’s funny is, it’s a history story so there aren’t any heroes and there aren’t any villains. But when you’re building a musical, you have to have a hero. Hamilton is the hero. And if he has an arch-nemesis, in my opinion it isn’t Burr—it’s Thomas Jefferson. Because Burr is kind of an afterthought to both Thomas Jefferson and to Hamilton, and that’s what pisses Burr off.

I get to play all the good guys all the time. It's fun to play a guy who’s, quote unquote, “the villain of the story.” I get to just come at Hamilton and needle him the whole second act, and it’s just so wonderful. I’ve gotten to do it with all the different Hamiltons, and I find different ways to get on their nerves. And I know I’m going to lose, and because I know I’m going to lose it’s that much more fun to just do sh** to them.

To get to do a song like “What’d I Miss?” every night—it’s a fantastic introduction. You don’t see Jefferson the whole first act. And the beginning of the second act is all about him. I’m the only one in this bright-ass color, I get to walk down the steps. And because they know I move well they gave my Jefferson a few dance steps that Daveed didn’t do. So I’m sliding, and turning, and doing a bunch of other stuff, which pisses Hamilton off even more. So when the guys playing Hamilton see me doing all this stuff, they’re all like, “Oh, now we have to attack.” And so I’m enjoying Thomas that much more.

Do you have a favorite song? For me, it’s “Wait for It.”

I love “Wait for It,” but my tune was—it wasn’t the whole tune. There’s one moment in “Washington on Your Side” that I could play on repeat over and over again. It’s where they say, “We won’t be invisible / We won’t be denied / Still…” That still, I could play that over and over and over again. I love singing that, because you’re in harmony, harmony, harmony, harmony … and all of a sudden, one note.

It is just—it’s terrible to use this cliché, but it’s just music to my ears. It feels so damned good in your earphones to hear, “... Still …” When I sat through the first time at the opening, I was like, “Lin, I hate you so much for that moment, it’s so cool.” Because there was no reason for them to do that. It was awesome.

Now we’ve come to the portion of the interview where I ask questions that have nothing to do with anything you’re promoting—they’re just fun. First: I hear you have quite the toy collection. Which toy is your favorite?

My favorite is going to be one that most people don’t think is going to be my favorite, because I’m a huge Batman fan. But my favorite toys are Tomax and Xamot, the brothers in GI Joe. And they are my favorite because—and this will be the last time I tell the story—when I was a kid I had them. We were on our way to Florida, and my father told me to share them with my little brother, and I said, “Dad, if I give him this he’s going to lose it.”

And sometimes parents just don’t want to argue. He said, “Stop being stingy, just play with your brother.” So I let him hold one of the action figures. We’re young kids on a plane, so of course we fell asleep. We get off the plane—my brother’s asleep—get in a cab, and go to the hotel, and I ask my brother, “Yo, where’s the other twin?” “I don’t know.” He’s got an attitude. I look at my dad: “Hey, where’s the twin?” “Son, I don’t know, your brother has it.” I search through my brother’s bag, and this fool has left the damn thing on the plane!

I’m 11 years old, and I look at my dad. I know you can’t look at a parent and go, “Hey, I told you so.” So it was either: Do I get smacked in the face for telling my father he was wrong, or do I just hold this grudge for 20 years? Guess which one I did. [laughs]

I told this story at every single cookout for 20 years. And my best friend finally found a reprint of the damn twins, and he told me, “Here’s the twins. Don’t ever tell that story again.” I put them up in my house, they are my favorite toy, and to this day my brother, who is almost 40, is not allowed to touch them.

XAMOT & TOMAX GI Joe action figures.Image courtesy of Ebay.

Is there one toy that you want that you don’t have that you’re on the hunt for?

I collect African American action figures, so whenever I see one I’m always trying to collect one. I’m currently looking for a certain Static Shock from DC. And I like to collect African American professional wrestlers, when new ones come out, so I’ve got many. There’s not a toy that I don’t have—all the ones I’ve always wanted, I’ve always found and got. So now it’s about finding new things.

There’s certain people who—and I always stay away from these people—they can’t wait to be an adult. You hear them talk about it as kids. “I can’t wait to be an adult.” I loved being a kid. And being an actor, having that childlike personality helps. I think in the world of entertainment, you have to keep that kid-like quality or you’re just going to choke somebody. You meet too many a**holes, so you have to keep that kid in you that goes, “It’s fun,” so you don’t blow somebody up. The toy thing kind of helps.

If you could only listen to one soundtrack of a musical for the rest of your life, which one would it be?

That is hard. It breaks down to these four: Sweeney Todd, Dreamgirls, Little Shop of Horrors, or The Music Man. … I don’t know every song on Music Man, so Music Man has to go. So it leaves Little Shop of Horrors, Sweeney, and Dreamgirls.

[long pause]

One for the rest of my life, for the rest of my life ... Little Shop of Horrors, that has to go.

Dreamgirls or Sweeney Todd, for the rest of my life ... 

[deliberating]

It’s probably going to be Sweeney Todd. I love Dreamgirls, I do. But Sweeney Todd is my favorite all-time musical. What I love about it is how it makes you root for a guy who’s doing something absolutely horrendous. He’s killing people. These people don’t know Sweeney. They went upstairs for a shave, and he’s killing them! And you’re like, “That’s great, he’s going to get the judge one day!” It doesn’t hit you that what he’s doing is wrong until he looks down and sees it’s Lucy. And then you go, “Holy crap, he killed his wife!” That’s where everything seems to snap. It’s one of the greatest moments, because it happens to everyone who sees it.

Trust me, if I could keep four soundtracks with me, those would be the four. But if I only could have one, Sweeney Todd would be the one.

Sweeney is so good. But you know what’s a very good karaoke song is “Suddenly Seymour” from Little Shop.

Karaoke is actually how I got my confidence up in college. When you got to college you realized how good you weren’t, because all of a sudden you weren’t the big fish in the high school choir anymore. You were there with some people who had skills and you were like, “Oh my God, I have to do something.” Then a friend of mine sent me to karaoke.

I thought it was the dumbest thing ever. All of a sudden, this little Latin dude gets up and starts singing Al Green, and he sounded just like Al Green. And I was like, “Who the hell are you, and how do you do that?” And he’s like, “I go to karaoke every week. You should come by, you sing really well.” So every Saturday for a year I would travel to wherever he was and do it.

I got my propers in, because when you’re singing with a bunch of drunk people, no one’s judging you, so you just start experimenting. So I started riffing, hitting high notes, going low. And when I got back to the musical season I went in to audition, and they were like, “What happened to your voice?” I was like, “I’m not going to lie to you, I did karaoke.” They thought I was joking, but getting up and singing in front of different people every single night got me ready for this type of life.

Karaoke changed your life!

Karaoke changed my life, no joke. That’s the honest to God truth.

I love that. OK, here’s another tough one. If you could only read one comic for the rest of your life, which one is it?

Honestly, I can’t make a choice. But if I’m going to make a choice, it’s always the first one you can think of. There’s a comic book called Mad Love. It’s basically the behind-the-scenes story of Harley Quinn. I have it in my Hamilton dressing room—it travels with me. She is one of the coolest characters ever created in the Batman universe.

Here’s a controversial question that’s been in the news a lot lately. Pineapple on pizza: yes or no?

For my wife, yes. For me, every now and then, but not really. My wife's favorite pizza is—I probably shouldn’t say this—is a grilled chicken and cheese and pineapple pizza.

I always find it funny when people get upset about what people eat. You say, “I’ll have pineapple on my pizza,” and here’s some dude who goes, “That’s not pizza.” First of all, I don’t live with you. Two, why does your opinion about what I eat matter? Why can’t we both have a meal without you telling me that you don’t like that I’m eating? You don’t get to be the judge of pizza.

What’s your favorite book?

Wow, that’s hard, too. I love all the Harry Potter books. I am a huge, huge fan of Laurell K. Hamilton—she writes the Anita Blake novels. I love that woman.

But there’s a book that I’ve read over and over and over again. It’s inspirational, it’s a cautionary tale, and it’s an autobiography. It is Pryor Convictions by Richard Pryor. He’s my favorite comic, and he is absolutely fearless in this book. He tells it from two sides: Mudbone, this famous character he created, kind of narrates the beginning of each chapter, then [Pryor] tells the rest of the story. And he did some horrible, crazy, terrible, nutty things.

What ended up killing him had nothing to do with drugs, nothing to do with womanizing, nothing to do with drinking—he got MS. Here’s a man who was the fastest talker, fastest mind in comedy, and his body decides to go off on him, and that’s what did him in. And he writes about that in the book. There’s this voice, he thinks it’s Death, is chasing him the whole book. At the end, he goes: I’m a comedian, the biggest joke was on me.

Of all the books that I’ve read—and I have read the Harry Potter set at least 12, 14 times—I’ve read Pryor Convictions at least, I kid you not, 30 times.

My favorite Harry Potter is six. Which one is yours?

Prisoner of Azkaban. I love the fact that Voldemort wasn’t the villain, technically. And I also love the great twist of Peter Pettigrew, I love [Harry] finding out where the Marauder’s Map comes from, I love the character of Mooney. And I love that Sirius Black loves Harry so much. But also because of when he was caught and when he was put in Azkaban, he never fully grew up—so through the rest of the series you see this guy who’s still trying to relive the days of being in the Order of the Phoenix, being with James and the Marauders, and that’s not what life is right now. I fell in love with Sirius Black. I have a Sirius Black wand, I have a Snape wand, I have my own wand, and I have Lucius Malfoy’s wand complete with cane.

Last question! What’s your dream role?

There are two on Broadway: Harold Hill from The Music Man and Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas. I sang Oogie Boogie’s song to Danny Elfman at D23, and I had so much fun. It would also be the best gig on Broadway, because I would get the most applause for doing less work than anybody else! Watch that movie. Oogie Boogie is there three times, and he’s got the best song in the whole damn thing.

Harold Hill I have loved since I was a kid. It’s something about the way Robert Preston played that part. The arrogance to walk into a town that someone has told you doesn’t want you there. And you know you’re into the town with a lie to take these people’s money. I love it.

And then he says—and I used to say this when I was a kid—“I don’t want the girl who is the pure and innocent female.” I always wanted the girl who’s had a life, because she’s the one that’s going to be the most interesting. My wife is like that. My wife had a life, and she’s the most brilliant female I’ve ever met. And in Music Man, Harold Hill sings “The Sadder But Wiser Girl,” and he’s like, “I want the girl who’s lived a little bit so we actually have something to talk about.” So when I saw the character in my teenage years—my teacher showed it to us in an English class for some reason—I was like, “That’s the part.”

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

The Mental Floss Store Is Back!

Mental Floss Shop
Mental Floss Shop

You've been asking about it for months, and today we can finally confirm that the Mental Floss Store is back up and running! Simply head here to find dozens of T-shirts with all sorts of unique designs to choose from, whether you’re in the market for a pi pun, a risqué grammar joke, or something only your fellow bookworms will appreciate. You can even use your new Mental Floss shirt to teach your friends all about scurvy.

Mental Floss Store

If you’re just in the mood to express your love of all things Mental Floss, you can also get our darling little logo on phone cases, tote bags, mugs, baby bibs, and more.

Mental Floss Store

Head on over to the Mental Floss Store to see our entire collection. And if you use the code FLOSSERS at checkout by end of day Sunday, you'll get 20 percent off your order. 

Sign Up Today: Get exclusive deals, product news, reviews, and more with the Mental Floss Smart Shopping newsletter!

Meet Ice Cream Scientist Dr. Maya Warren

Maya Warren
Maya Warren

Most people don’t think about the chemistry in their cone when enjoying a scoop of ice cream, but as a professional ice cream scientist, Dr. Maya Warren can’t stop thinking about it. A lot of complex science goes into every pint of ice cream, and it’s her job to share that knowledge with the people who make it—and to use that information to develop some innovative flavors of her own.

Unlike many people’s idea of a typical scientist, Warren isn’t stuck in a lab all day. Her role as senior director for international research and development for Cold Stone Creamery takes her to countries around the world. And after winning the 25th season of The Amazing Race in 2014, she’s now back in front of the camera to host Ice Cream Sundays with Dr. Maya on Instagram. In honor of National Ice Cream Month this July, we spoke with Dr. Warren about her sweet job.

How did you get involved in food science?

I fell in love with science at a really young age. I got Gak as a kid, you know the Nickelodeon stuff? And I remember wanting to make my own Gak. I remember getting a little kit and putting together the glue and all the coloring and whatever else I needed to make it. I also had make-your-own gummy candy sets. So I was always into making things myself.

I didn't really connect that to chemistry until later on in life. When I was in high school, I fell in love with chemistry. I decided at that point I should go to college to become a high school chemistry teacher. One day I was over at my best friend's house in college, and she had the TV on in her apartment. I remember watching the Food Network and there was a show on called Unwrapped, and they go in and show you how food is made on a manufacturing, production scale. In that particular episode, they went into a flavor chemistry lab. It was basically a wall full of vials with clear liquid inside them. They were about to flavor soda to make it taste like different parts of a traditional Thanksgiving meal. So you had green bean casserole-flavored soda, you had turkey and gravy-flavored soda, cranberry sauce soda. And I was like, "Oh my gosh, like how disgusting is this? But how cool is this! I could do this. I'm a chemist."

I love the science of food and how intriguing it is, and I had to ask myself, "Maya, what do you love?" And I was like, "I love ice cream! I’m going to become one of the world’s experts in frozen aerated deserts." I found a professor at UW Madison [where I earned my Ph.D. in food science], Dr. Richard Hartel, and he took me under his wing. Six and half years later, I’ve become an expert in ice cream and all its close cousins.

How did you arrive at your current position?

I didn't actually apply for the job. Six years ago, I was running The Amazing Race, the television show on CBS. After I was on it, a lot of publications reached out wanting to interview me. I did a couple of interviews and someone from Cold Stone found my interview. They noticed that I’m a scientist, and they were looking for someone with my background, so they reached out to me. I was actually writing my dissertation, and I was like, "I'm not looking for a job right now. I just want to go home and sleep."

I originally told myself I wasn't going to work for a year because I was so exhausted after graduate school and I needed some time off. But I ended up going to their office in Scottsdale for an interview. At that time, I still wasn't sure if was going to do it or not because I didn't want to move to Arizona. It's just so incredibly hot. I ended up being able to work something out with them where I didn't have to move Arizona. I came on board back in 2016. I started as a consultant at first because I didn't want to move. But then I proved I could make this work from afar.

What does your job at Cold Stone Creamery entail?

I'm the senior director for international research and development for Cold Stone Creamery. A lot of what I do is establishing dairies and building ice cream mixes for countries all across the globe. Dairy is a very expensive commodity. Milk fat is quite pricey. Cold Stone has locations all over the world, and they all need ice cream mixes. But sometimes bringing that ice cream from the United States into that country is extremely expensive, because of conflicts, because of taxes, different importation laws. A lot of what I do is helping those countries figure out how they can build their own dairies, or how can they work with local dairies to make ice cream mixes more affordable.

The other part of what I do is create new ice cream flavors for these places. I look at a local ingredient and say, "I see people in this country eating a lot of blank. Why don’t we turn that into ice cream? How would people feel about that?" I try to get these places to realize that ice cream is so much more than a scoop. In the States, we have ice cream bars, ice cream floats, ice cream sandwiches. But many countries don’t see ice cream like that. So getting these places to come on board with different ideas and platforms to grow their business is a big part of my job.

Maya Warren

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor you made on the job?

I made a product called honey cornbread and blackberry jam ice cream. Ice cream to me is a blank canvas. You can throw all kinds of paint at it—blue and red and yellow and orange and metallic and glitter and whatever else you want—and it becomes this masterpiece. That's how I look at ice cream.

Ice cream starts out with a white base that's full of milk fat and sugar and nonfat dry milk. It’s plain, it’s simple. For this flavor, I thought, "Why don’t I throw cornbread in ice cream mix?" I put in some honey, because that’s a good sweetener, and a little sea salt, because salt elevates taste, especially in sweeter desserts. And why don’t I use blackberry jam? When you’re eating it, you feel the gritty texture of cornbread, which is quite interesting. You get that pop of the berry flavor. There’s a complexity to the flavors, which is what I enjoy about what you can do with ice cream.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?

One of the most rewarding things is being able to produce a product and see people eat it. The other part of it is being able to have a hand in helping people in different countries get on their feet. Ice cream isn’t a luxury for many people in America, but there are people in other countries that would look at it that way. Being able to introduce ice cream to these countries is fascinating to me. And being able to provide job opportunities for people, that sincerely touches my heart.

The last part is the fact that when I tell people I’m an ice cream scientist, it doesn’t matter how old the person is, they can’t believe it. I’m like, "I know, could you imagine doing what you love every day?" And that’s what I do. I love ice cream.

What are some misconceptions about being an ice cream scientist?

When I tell people what I do, they automatically think I just put flavors in ice cream. They don’t know that there’s a whole other part of it before you get to adding flavor. They don't think about the balancing of a mix, the chemistry that goes into ice cream, the microbiology part that goes into ice cream, the flavor science that goes into ice cream. There’s so much hardcore science that goes into being an ice cream scientist. Ice cream, believe it or not, is one of the most complex foods known to man (and woman). It is a solid, it’s a gas, and it’s also a liquid all in one. So the solid phase comes in via the ice crystals and partially coalesced fat globules. The gas phase comes in via the air cells. Ice cream usually ranges from 27 to 30 percent overrun, which is the measurement of aeration in ice cream. You also have your liquid phase. There’s a semi-liquid to component to ice cream that we don’t see, but there’s a little bit of liquid in there.

People don’t think about ice crystals and air cells when they think about ice cream. They really don’t think partially coalesced fat globules. But it’s really fun to connect the science of ice cream to the common knowledge people have about this product they eat so much.

If you weren't doing this, what would you be doing?

If I wasn’t an ice cream scientist, I think that I would have been a motivational speaker. When I was a kid, my parents would send me to camp, and I remember having a lot of motivational speakers that would come in and talk to us. I always wanted to do that as a kid. So it’s either between that or a sport medicine doctor, because that was the track I was on in college. So if I didn’t figure out food science, I probably would have gone back to sports medicine. But I’m glad I didn’t go down that path, because I think I have one of the coolest and sweetest jobs—pun intended—that exists on planet Earth.

You’ve been hosting Ice Cream Sundays on Instagram Live since May. What inspired this?

At the beginning of quarantine, I was like, "What am I going to do? I can't travel anywhere. What am I going to do with all this extra time?" I was on Instagram, and I started seeing people at the very beginning of this make all this bread. And I was like, "I need to start talking about ice cream more. Ice cream can’t be left out of this conversation."

I started making ice cream and posting here and there, and people would ask me about it, and I would ask them, "Do you have an ice cream maker?" I put a poll up and 70, 80 percent of people who replied did not have ice cream makers. So I was like, "How am I going to make people happy with ice cream if all I do is show photos and they can’t make it?" Then I decided to make a no-churn ice cream. That’s not how you make it in the industry, but it’s how you make it at home if you don’t have an ice cream machine. I think it was around May 3, I decided I was going to do an Instagram Live. I’m going to call it Ice Cream Sundays with Dr. Maya, and I’ll just see where it goes from there.

I did one, and from the beginning, people were so in love with it. Then I thought, "Whoa, I guess I should continue doing this." I’ve made a calendar. People really attend. People make the ice cream. People watch me on Live. I’ve always wanted to have a television show on ice cream. I figured, if I can’t do a show on ice cream right now on a major network, I might as well start a show on Instagram.

What advice do you give to young people interested in becoming ice cream scientists?

My advice is: If you want to do it, do it. Don’t forget to work hard, but have fun along the way. And if ice cream isn’t necessarily the realm for you, make sure whatever you do makes your heart flutter. My heart flutters when I think about ice cream. I am so intrigued with it. So if you find something that makes your heart flutter, no one can ever take away your desire for it. If it is ice cream, we can get down and dirty with it. I can tell them about the science behind it, the biology, the microbiology that goes into ice cream itself. But I just encourage people to follow their heart and have fun with whatever they do.

What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?

If we’re talking just general flavors, I love a good cookies and cream. I’m an Oreo fan. I also make a double butter candy pecan that is my absolute jam.