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Jolie Jenkins currently stars as Jennifer Cooper in Netflix’s “Alexa and Katie, ” a role she insists is her very favorite among her long list of credits. She may play your average mom next door on television but she’s truly anything but average. As Jolie became a mom “later than most people,” she admits that her transition to motherhood may have been a bit different than most. At 40-years-old she had her first child after enduring a lot of fertility treatments to become pregnant.
As she puts it, her life was dialed in. She knew what she liked and what she didn’t. How much alone time she needed. Her life was curated and she threw a kid into the mix. Jolie had yearned to be pregnant for so long. But admittedly she felt guilty for mourning her previous kid-free life. All of a sudden, like most of us, her life was turned upside down for better or for worse when she became a mom.
Prior to COVID-19, we sat down with Jolie at Joan’s on Third in Los Angeles. She talking about motherhood, having babies in her forties, her favorite products for surviving motherhood and being a mom in Hollywood.
You had your first child at forty and your second at forty-five. Tell me about your transition to motherhood.
All I want to do is talk about being a mom. The first year of two was the hardest year of my life. It was so hard in the basic ways of having a newborn and the nursing and pumping and I was working full time. It was also so hard on our older son when we welcomed his baby brother, his whole life was pulled out from under him.
I was thinking about how if you choose to accept a challenge, becoming a mom really forces you to really look at what you need and what you think you need in order to feel good about your life. You have an idea of what you need to be happy and what you need to accomplish to be successful. All of these ideas force you to face your beliefs of what you need in order to feel good about yourself.
You’re an actress in Hollywood and currently starring on the Netflix show, “Alexa and Katie.” How did the show deal with your pregnancy and how did you handle the schedule?
The way the schedule worked out with the show I could not have planned it better. I am so grateful. The timing worked out perfect. We finished season two, I was six months pregnant. They worked it in. With the current climate of the TV business, the tide is turning in terms of supporting women and accommodating pregnancies and nursing. When I went back to work, it was such a supportive set for pumping. But that Willow Wireless Handsfree Pump really saved me.
You said that playing Jennifer Cooper is your favorite role to date. Why is that?
It’s the longest job I have ever had. What I love about JC and what I love about playing her is that she’s so comfortable at not being perfect. That is something as a recovering perfectionist that I love. You have these moments where you are not your best and you have an incredible opportunity to model for others. I love how transparent she is about not being perfect. Honestly, that is why she’s so loveable. We can all learn that from her.
How is it being a part of a show that touches upon a tough topic? (If you’re not familiar, “Alexa and Katie” is about two best friends in high school, one who is living with cancer.)
It is so incredible to be a part of a project that is appropriate for kids that touches upon a tough topic. As an actor you don’t always get to choose your projects….you can turn them down. Not every actor get to hand pick projects that they feel would be incredible to them. To be handed this beautiful opportunity was so special. Aside from the cancer storyline, but a show that portrays beautiful female friendship. That is so important. It is so important for our girls.
Speaking of work, you have a six year old son. Does he know what you do for a living?
I took him to work a couple of times this past season. “This is my pretend living room,” I shared as I showed him around. I don’t think that he fully gets it. From a work perspective, there are a lot of things I have done. As he gets older, I’ll be particular as to what I share with him.
How do you find balance? Is there such a thing?
There are 156 hours in a week—pre 40s life that I so uniquely curated the time I had. But I felt like I needed to have all of these things in a day to feel balanced. Once I heard someone say, instead of looking at a day, look at a week or even two weeks and it gives you some breathing room to get those workouts in or find time with friends, date your husbands, whatever is on that priority list for you personally. Spread it out and give yourself a little break. I hate the word balance, it is inherently failure.
What advice or knowledge would you share with a new parent?
Parenting offers an incredible opportunity to reinvent your personal ideas about what it means to be a successful human, since you can’t control ANYTHING when it comes to life with kids. It can be a rough ride for a recovering perfectionist (*raises hand*), but there is tremendous freedom, and ultimate potential for satisfaction, to be able to go with the flow and make peace with things being “good enough”. What a great thing to model for your kids too: resourcefulness, ease, flow, humor, making the best of it, and grace in things not going the way you’d hoped. BTW, this is, I’m realizing, one of my biggest lessons I continue to work on.
What is one message all moms should know?
If you can find the funny and/or absurd in your current situation, you’re gonna soften the shitty stuff, and make the yummy stuff take the forefront of your memory. Just yesterday I was holding a space for my 5yo, who was having a super surly tantrum moment (overtired, overstimulated, hungry). I was trying to get him into the bath and he kept saying, “I ABSOTUTELY DON’T WANNA DO THAT!!! ABSOLUTELY NOT!” And as annoying and hard as the moment was, I laughed inside at his mispronunciation and thought: I’m gonna miss ABSOTUTELY so much when it goes!
What is one piece of advice for new moms that you wish someone told you before motherhood?
This too shall pass.
The good stuff, the yummy stuff and the hard stuff. When I first became a mom the first time.
Trying to figure out all of it and you’re like: this is my life now. I was so dramatic about it. You have no perspective about how long those feelings are going to last. Its important for me to remember because of the stuff I am struggling with now.
Some of Jolie’s Favorite Mom Life Must-Haves include these items she discovered after her second child was born:
And the tried-and true stuff I keep buying more of:
Make sure to follow Jolie Jenkins on Instagram. You can watch “Alexa and Katie,” one of our top binge-worthy shows, on Netflix. Stay tuned to BCB’s Instagram and Facebook for BCB’s Three-Minute ThrowDown with Jolie.