Jennie Garth: 'It's About Taking Care of My Kids'
Mom of three Jennie Garth has it all — handsome husband Peter Facinelli, a trio of beautiful daughters and a successful career that’s spanned from the first round of 90210 to the next. And when it comes down to it, Jennie is happy to be known more for her mom duties and less for her acting.
Currently working with Trident and Smiles Across America, Jennie is committing herself to educating families about oral health and hygiene. The actress recently spoke to CBB about her marriage, her philanthropic pursuits and her girls Luca Bella , 12, Lola Ray, 6 ½ and Fiona Eve, 3.
Click below to read the interview!
CBB: How did you and Peter pick your girls’ names?
Jennie Garth: Luca is an Italian family name from Peter’s side — his uncle was Luca and we liked the name. We tried to feminize it with the addition Bella, which means “beautiful light.” It really suits her!
Lola is a name that I’ve always loved since I was a little girl. It represents a strong, independent, fabulous image of a woman to me, which is what I want for my daughters, so that’s how that came about. And Peter was playing a character named Ray at the time of our second pregnancy, which was also a middle name I loved.
I don’t even know where Fiona came from! The name just came to us — it’s possibly Irish? And Eve is my middle name, and a deep-rooted name on my family’s side.
While your two older daughters are in school, what do you do with Fiona?
Actually, all of them are in different schools this year. Fiona is in preschool a few mornings a week. My husband is working most mornings, so I have a house to run, and business to take care of.
It’s hard to divvy up my time with each of them — one of my biggest challenges is having enough time to go around, and remembering to delegate it, make it a priority in my day. You get caught up in what needs to be done.
Fiona loves puzzles, so we do lots of those, and she likes to play on the swing set — anything like that. She’s just so easily entertained. The TV’s not that great for Fiona, though; she needs more!
How do you spend time together when everyone’s home?
As a family, we cook, and we like to bake. We like to play games, we love to have movie nights, and curl up by the fire with popcorn.
We do a lot of stuff — my oldest daughter is into sports so we’re all in the basketball bleachers with her or on the soccer field. And we spend a lot of time bike riding.
What are a couple of main dishes that you know the girls would love for dinner tonight?
Well if I make it, there’s no option. There’s no junk food in our house — if so, it’s a treat. I’m not a food Nazi — we have sugar or cupcakes sometimes — but I make sure that they’re getting a balanced meal three times a day, and then they don’t want as much other stuff because they’re satiated with healthy foods.
I hide healthy veggies in everything I cook — like sauces — and I get them protein. We love chicken lettuce wraps, ground turkey, stuff like that.
Do your girls find ways to relate to each other despite their age difference?
Well they relate to each other, I don’t know how well! They’re either best friends and loving each other, or want to kill each other, but that’s siblings for you.
That’s living with someone all the time, and having that competitive energy between them because they’re girls.
There’s a plethora of dynamics in my house at any moment with the given amount of hormones and sleep deprivation.
Do you think that you will encourage or discourage your girls from going into show business?
I lean more toward the discouragement.
I want to discourage them from it, but my husband, even though he wouldn’t send them to an audition tomorrow, says not to discourage them, and instead let them have their dreams and want to be what their mom and dad are.
Naturally, kids are drawn to that.
If any of them wanted to take an acting class, I’d take them against my will. But I have to be careful not to discourage them from anything, either.
Did you plan to have certain age gaps in between children?
I’m a go-with-the-flow kind of girl, and the space between them just happened. I love that they’re spaced out. Having a 12-, 7- and 3-year-old, I have one in every sort of childhood bracket.
I have one that’s encroaching on adolescence and junior high, the middle one whose brain is about to explode in first grade with all she’s learning, and one in pre-kindergarten who’s trying to step out on her own a bit. Everyone’s at a different pivotal stage now.
Are you planning on a fourth child, or are you done with three kids?
I have my hands full! I love kids and children, and I love being a mom. I could have eight more, who knows. Wait no, that would be weird!
Have your daughters watched reruns of you on 90210 yet?
Oh God no! I think that would be a horrible parenting choice for me or any other parent with a 12-year-old. I know parents let their children watch that and other things, but I’m super conservative about what goes into their brains — visually, it’s so powerful.
Being a lazy parent and letting your kid watch stuff that’s not appropriate for their age is one of the bigger mistakes you can make.
Do you still keep in touch with any of the cast members of 90210?
I stay in touch with them, and we see each other at different events, connect through phone calls and texts, but we’re all so busy. They’re doing their things, and I’m doing mine.
What’s next for you?
I really enjoy being able to spend my time doing different charitable and philanthropic activities. I think for me, that’s where it’s at, being able to commit my name and face to different organizations, and educating people. It’s not about what TV show or movie I’m doing. But I’m at a point in my life and career where doing things that make me feel good is most important.
I do work with different organizations like Smiles Across America, like this campaign where Trident donated $1.5 million to educate families about dental hygiene. They donated money for every gum pack that was purchased for a period of time, and raised so much for Smiles Across America, which goes into communities and teaches kids how to take care of their teeth.
I just did a campaign for the Web on how mothers can get their kids to eat more veggies.
That’s where I focus my time and energy now, and if I happen to show up on the 90210 set or another set to act, then those things just fall into place.
My audience is women my age who have kids. They grew up watching me, and I can understand it, because I can put myself in these women’s shoes — it’s nice to have a familiar face that you’ve grown up watching, talking about things that matter to you. What doesn’t matter to me is fashion, or who’s wearing what — it’s how to take care of our kids, take care of each other as women and mothers.
This Smiles Across America opportunity came to me, and it’s a great opportunity to bring awareness to moms and dads, and teach them that oral hygiene and oral diseases are important to children. It’s hard to imagine, but it’s so important that we teach our kids how to take care of themselves, starting with their teeth. It affects their nutrition, their self-esteem, and that goes a long, long way as a kid. If you don’t feel good about your smile, or the way you look, it can affect everything. It’s a vital, forgotten-about thing. I love getting involved, and Trident’s made this great donation. It’s a win-win situation!
How has your view on body image changed since you’ve been in Hollywood?
It’s a horrible, horrible part of what I do — being judged on how I look. In my real life, I walk around and feel great. I don’t stop to think about how I look or what I weigh — it’s not about me, it’s about taking care of my kids.
The business puts such an importance on what you look like, what you’re wearing, and it’s such bulls–t, and so unimportant. It’s sad and so trite and a waste of energy.
I do certainly deal with it daily when it’s thrown in my face. If it’s just my real life, I wouldn’t think about it twice — I’m happy, and that’s what’s important. It’s hard to keep that in perspective, because of society more than just the industry.
My little girl this morning had some little rash — she’s been sick with H1N1 for the last week, so she has a skin irritation on her face — and she was crying because she didn’t want to go to school and have people make fun of her. Wanting to feel good about yourself is common across the world, and starts so young. I told her she’s beautiful, and nothing on her face could make her not beautiful.
You have to continually stress how amazing kids are as people and not what they look like. My middle one was worried about being fat. She had a little chub when she was 5 or 6, starting kindergarten, and we had to focus on keeping her active and healthy, and not thinking about her weight. There’s so much you have to do to protect your children from feeling bad about themselves.
How do you and Peter keep your marriage going in the midst of children, fame, and Hollywood?
It’s not easy! Especially when there’s thousands of miles separating us — it’s harder than it’s ever been since he’s been on location for three months. But we Skype, we text, and he makes every effort known to man.
He’s an exceptionally good man, and I think that I’m very lucky to have him. I just keep telling myself that.
With the holidays approaching, do you have any family traditions you can share with us?
We’re going to Peter’s family’s for Thanksgiving, in New York City, and then we’ll be at home for Christmas. We have big traditions, and we’re very traditional people. My family’s not so big, plus we’re more spread out and my dad recently passed away, so it’s not as idyllic as it used to be. But now we’re trying to pass traditions on to our children and make sure they have a sense of tradition that’s focused on them.