12 Things About Danielle Panabaker Only Superfans Know

Danielle Panabaker has regularly graced film and TV screens since the mid-2000s. After she made a name for herself in "Sky High," Panabaker's star was firmly on the rise and it wasn't long before she was nabbing main roles in everything from Disney Channel Original Movies like "Stuck in the Suburbs" to horror-comedies like "Piranha 3DD." In recent years, the actor has found a long-term home playing Caitlin Snow — and subsequently her sister Frost — on "The Flash." Panabaker has been formally recognized for her acting prowess, bagging several Young Artist Awards and a Saturn Award, along with a handful of Teen Choice Award nominations.

Though she found success at an early age, it sounds this highly competitive line of work has not lost its luster for her. Of her love of acting, Panabaker once told Da Man, "I've always had a big imagination, and I love creating a life and a history and a backstory for various characters. For me, it's about finding a character and creating her."

So, how did this Southern belle end up here? Without further ado, let's take on a deep dive into the actor's life. Buckle up to find out what she finds the hardest about her foray into directing, and how she and her husband Hayes Robbins balance their family life amongst her busy schedule.

The way Danielle Panabaker fell into acting

Danielle Panabaker has been acting in TV shows and films since she was 14, making her onscreen debut in an episode of "Family Affair" in 2002. However, she'd been polishing her acting chops for a while before that, building up her experience doing community theater and commercials. Her first ever paid gig was for Stone Mountain Park in Georgia, where she lived at the time. "It was two days of running around with my pretend family, doing all the cool things you could do at this park, like the petting zoo, riding around on the train, that sort of thing," she recalled to Kidzworld.

With that kind of dedication to acting that early on in her life, you might assume Danielle was born with stars in her eyes. However, she actually didn't get the acting bug until her mom put her and her little sister, fellow actor Kay Panabaker, in an acting class on a whim. Clearly, something clicked for both of them. "We just continued taking classes and doing community theater because we had a great time," she explained. If she hadn't ended up working as an actor, Danielle told Spirit & Flesh that she probably would have ended up doing something completely different, such as working for a charity or a nonprofit.

She graduated from high school way early

Danielle Panabaker packed a lot into her young life. Not only did she start a professional acting career when she was just a teenager, but she also graduated from high school four years early. She recalled to Spirit & Flesh, "I started working when I was still in school, [so] I switched to an independent study high school." She continued, "I just went to school year round for a period of time, which enabled me to get all the credits to graduate at 14." Panabaker's academic career didn't end there, though. 

After moving from Chicago to L.A. for her first pilot season, Panabaker also put some time aside to study, getting her bachelor's degree from UCLA by the time she was 19. Perhaps unsurprisingly, she did not exactly have the quintessential college kid experience. As she shared on an episode of Michael Rosenbaum's "Inside of You" podcast, "I was a minor going to a community college and there was a conversation about whether or not I would have to wear a uniform so that it would be very clear to anyone on campus that I was young."

Community theater set the stage for her TV career

Before she started landing TV commercials and other paying jobs, Danielle Panabaker not only practiced her craft in community theater, but developed a passion for acting. "I was involved in community theater first, which I loved, and it inspired me to keep going," she said in Basic Magazine in 2016. "I've always loved being on set and collaborating with other artists, and that's what I enjoy most about my job."

Her talent, coupled with this passion, led Panabaker to pursue screen projects, and following smaller parts in the likes of "Family Affair" and "Malcolm in the Middle," she scored some bigger movie roles. In 2003 she starred in Lifetime's made-for-TV drama "Sex and the Single Mom." Then, the following year, she joined the Disney Channel family acting alongside "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" star Brenda Song in "Stuck in the Suburbs." When she was on the 2005 miniseries "Empire Falls," things really clicked for her. "It absolutely changed my life. To work with such artists [as Fred Schepisi] was the experience of a lifetime," she gushed to Moviehole.

The Panabaker sisters have acted together before

Danielle Panabaker's younger sister, Kay Panabaker, has also had a successful career. Her early credits include "Monsters, Inc.," "The Jamie Kennedy Experiment," and "Angel." And like her big sister, she became a Disney Channel star. Starting in 2004, she appeared on the series "Phil of the Future." After that, she played Emily Watson in the Disney Channel Original Movie "Life is Rough." Fans of the Panabaker sisters surely know that the two starred in the 2006 Disney Channel Original Movie "Read It and Weep" together. As the younger sister, Kay took on the role of the movie's protagonist Jamie, while "The Flash" star played her glamorous alter ego.

However, that DCOM wasn't actually the first time the two sisters acted together on the small screen. Fans of the "Piranha 3DD" actor might not know that she was a guest star on her sister's hit TV series "Summerland," which ran from 2004 to 2005. Danielle played Faith in two episodes of the drama, and even acted opposite her sister's character, Nikki Westerly. "The first time we shot a scene together, it was a true acting exercise because I felt like I was looking in a mirror and the characters were supposed to be complete strangers, so we couldn't have any of the same mannerisms or anything like that," she explained to Kidzworld. "It was tough, but it was a lot of fun."

Danielle Panabaker was almost in Mean Girls

"Mean Girls" is one film from the early noughties which has really stood the test of time. Most fans will agree that it is perfectly cast, with Lindsay Lohan in the lead role of Cady Heron, while Rachel McAdams headed up the mean girl squad as Regina George. But, once upon a time, the film's main lineup looked totally different.

For one thing, the plans for the leader of the Plastics changed. As director Mark Waters told Vulture, Lohan was originally set to take on the role of Regina. What's more, as Panabaker dished to Michael Rosenbaum on "Inside of You," she almost landed the part of Cady. "I went in and I did table reads for Paramount and everything and originally, I think — I mean, look, my agent could've been lying to me — but originally they were looking at me and Lindsay," she said. 

Having completely fallen in love with the script, this was a bit of a devastating loss for Panabaker, who admitted that she went home and cried on the couch after. But, some things just aren't meant to be and we can't imagine "Mean Girls" any other way. 

Frost isn't Danielle Panabaker's first superhero role

Danielle Panabaker is best known for her long-standing role in "The Flash," playing scientist Caitlin Snow and her meta human sister Frost. One of her most notable storylines includes coming to terms with Frost's abilities when she and Caitlin shared a body, before becoming two completely distinct people.

Before she joined the cast of the Grant Gustin-led series, Panabaker racked up plenty of credits in the horror film world, as well as TV comedies and dramas. And she couldn't be happier to hop from one genre to the next. "I love that I have gotten to play so many diverse roles and been exposed to so much," she told Basic Magazine. "My interests and styles definitely shift as I learn. I love being able to try new things with different characters," she explained.

Oh, and may we not forget that she's also gotten a chance to be a superhero. Back in 2005, Panabaker played Layla in the action-comedy feature "Sky High." When the film, which was her first ever feature role, came out, Panabaker told Kidzworld that if she could have any power herself, it would be the ability to multiply, noting that it would make multi-tasking that much easier.

This is the real reason she got bangs in 2015

When asked about her personal style, Danielle Panabaker said in Spirit & Flesh, "My style is definitely a little more classic." That classic look includes long hair plus grown out, layered bangs which frame her face. Panabaker has sported this style for most of her career, and besides switching from a side part to a center part, it hardly changed for years. That was until she shocked everyone in 2015 when she cut short bangs and debuted her new hairstyle on "The Flash."

Speaking to Marie Claire in 2016, the actor revealed the surprising reason for her new hairdo. "I fell and hit my head about six months ago — I have a scar on my forehead and the bangs were an attempt to cover that," she explained. "Life sort of pushed a hair change on me, which has actually been really fun to play with." Panabaker kept her bangs for a while but has since grown them out, returning to her signature long hair, parted in the center, with long layers around her face. The "Harry Potter" style scar she has on her forehead is barely visible.

Danielle Panabaker hates directing herself

Like many of her "Arrowverse" co-stars — such as Melissa Benoist and Caity Lotz — Danielle Panabaker used her superhero show to springboard her career as a director. She made her directorial debut in 2018 during "The Flash"'s fifth season. She helmed the season's 18th episode which, along with continuing the show's ongoing storylines, includes several flash-forwards to 2049, giving Panabaker a lot to work with.

Since then, she has worked on several more episodes, each time gaining more confidence as a director. After directing her second episode, "License to Elongate," in Season 8, she explained to Collider that her past experience made it so much easier for her to get her head round. Additionally, a lot of prep coupled with breaking the episode up into four parts made the process much less complicated this time around.

However, there's one thing about the process she hates, and that's directing herself. "I don't love it," Panabaker admitted to CBR.com. "I much prefer being able to watch the camera and make sure we're getting all the beats and the moments that I'm looking for," she added. As a member of the main cast who plays two characters, Panabaker's screen time in "The Flash" is significant, so by directing too, it's like she's taken on a third role. "It's a little bit harder, mentally, to be in two places at once: to be performing in a scene and watching all the other actors as well."

She's been a Hallmark star for years

While working on "The Flash," Danielle Panabaker found time to appear in Hallmark's romantic holiday flick "Christmas Joy." "We wrapped 'The Flash' on a Friday night and Monday morning I started 'Christmas Joy,'" Panabaker explained to TV Insider. "Christmas Joy" follows her character Joy, who returns to small town Crystal Falls when her aunt has an accident. There she must take her aunt's place in the town's infamous Cookie Crawl. This, of course, leads her back into the path of her former crush, Ben (Matt Long), who soon becomes her current love interest.

The film received generally favorable reviews and was actually Panabaker's first Christmas movie. However, this wasn't her first foray into Hallmark's made-for-TV movies. She actually made her Hallmark Channel debut years earlier in 2013's "Nearly Weds." She followed this up with "Recipe to Love" in 2014, which she filmed in Vancouver while also working on the pilot for "The Flash." For the role which is worlds away from Caitlin Snow, Panabaker played a chef named Lauren. This meant she and co-star Shawn Roberts had to polish up their culinary skills. Speaking to TV Goodness, she revealed, "We got to train with Chef Julian at a cooking school here in Vancouver ... That was a highlight for me and added bonus to get to learn from him while shooting the film."

The thriving personal life of Danielle Panabaker

Danielle Panabaker knows a thing or two about happily ever after — and no, we're not just talking about her Hallmark movies. In 2017, the actor married her longtime beau Hayes Robbins, and the pair welcomed their first kid in 2020 and second in 2022. Panabaker's personal life is clearly thriving, but she doesn't put much personal content online. In fact, she's only posted one photo of her and Robbins as a couple. The post, which went up all the way back in 2017, was a wedding announcement. She captioned the Instagram post with their wedding date and wrote, "Happiest day of my life."

However, she has shared plenty of pregnancy updates on social media and discusses her personal life in interviews. Speaking to Complex, Panabaker touched on juggling a busy, high-profile acting career alongside her expanding family, which is undoubtedly a lot to handle. The actor explained that as things have gotten busier for her; she has put more emphasis on balance and living intentionally. "I think I choose how I spend my time more carefully, so it balances it out in that sense," she explained.

It also helps that Robbins, who is an entertainment attorney, keeps more conventional hours, so their schedules balance out. What's more, as Panabaker shared on "Inside of You," the two make a point to keep their work and home lives separate.

Danielle Panabaker hid her pregnancy on The Flash

Danielle Panabaker and her husband, Hayes Robbins, welcomed their first child in March 2020. Panabaker was filming Season 6 of "The Flash" during most of her pregnancy. She explained to ET that she told the show's writers about her pregnancy very early on to give them time to work out how they wanted to handle it within the series. This, of course, meant that Caitlin or Frost could have been preparing for the arrival of a little one too, but, ultimately, that didn't fit in with their storylines at the time. "I don't think Caitlin is going to have a baby. I think the intention is sort of to ignore my rapidly growing size," she explained.

Instead, Panabaker had to employ some tactful prop staging to hide her growing bump from viewers. "It's been done before and I have complete faith that it will be done again, so hopefully it won't be too obvious," the actor added. Panabaker had the task of hiding a baby bump again, when she was expecting her second child, who was born in July 2022. When Episode 15 of "The Flash" Season 8 aired in May, Panabaker took to Instagram to ask fans whether they could spot her growing bump in the episode, which could also be seen in the picture.

She's passionate about charity and social change

Danielle Panabaker's career and personal life have gotten steadily busier since she joined the cast of "The Flash," got married, and welcomed two children into the world. However, she still always makes time to give back, since charity work and social change are something she's very passionate about. In addition to speaking out about the gender wage gap — not just in Hollywood, but in all industries — Panabaker has spent the better part of a decade working with charities like Art of Elysium, which supports both adults and children in hospital. "Volunteering specifically with children has always been a passion of mine," Panabaker explained to Basic Magazine. "I can pop in and go to a hospital whenever I have time off."

The actor has also spoken a lot about her experience working with her "Arrowverse" co-star Caity Lotz and her foundation Shethority, which is a collective dedicated to empowering women. As she said to TV Insider, "There is this mentality, and I don't know where it comes from and I don't know why it exists, that there is only room enough at the table for one woman and that's just not true. I think Shethority has hopefully really shown people that women can come together and support one another and it's really fantastic."