As a Gemini Award-nominated and Leo Award-winning actor, Jewel Staite is best known for her work as Kaylee in Joss Whedon’s cult classic Fox series Firefly, as well as the feature film adaptation Serenity. More recently, Jewel was seen on ABC’s hit series The Good Doctor and NBC’s Blindspot. She’s also mom to son Wilder. We caught up with the celebrity parent to ask 25 on-the-spot questions about her career, parenting style and more.
What is your idea of the perfect day?
I’m going to give the predictable answer of a parent to a young child and say sleeping in, which is anything past 8am. A walk in the woods with my family, followed by a hot tub, and then dinner out somewhere fabulous.
Why did you choose your career?
It kind of chose me. I was only five when I started. I was scouted by a talent agent when I was in a shopping mall with my mom. I was a painfully shy kid, so the only reason I agreed to do my first job was because I understood the concept of making money—working meant that I could buy more clothes and toys. I just kept booking work, and then somehow 35 years went by. And I’m still buying clothes and toys.
What do you love most about what you do in your job?
I love the rush you get when it’s the perfect circumstances. An amazing script, a wonderful and supportive cast and crew, and a great production team. When everything feels like it’s run really smoothly, and everyone that’s there really wants to be there, you can relax and do your best work.
What has been the hardest part of building your career?
The lapses between jobs can be tough on the ego. Our job is to literally go for job interviews. We audition and audition and audition, and then every once in a while you actually book something. So you’ve got to have a really strong sense of self in order to get through the stagnant times.
Who was/is your mentor?
I’ve never really had a mentor. I’ve learned a lot from great actors and producers along the way, on how to behave on a set, to come prepared, to take risks and to treat people well. I try to emulate the great things I’ve seen other people do that have made me feel really good and try to make other people feel good around me in turn.
Who is your favourite Canadian?
It’s a toss-up between Michael J Fox and Keanu Reeves. Michael is just so crazy talented and such a solid person, but Keanu is this enigma who continues to surprise everybody. And I love me some Celine.
Which words or phrases do you most overuse?
“Are you kidding me??” and “We’re gonna be late!”
Which words or phrases do you dislike when other people overuse?
The word “actress” has always bothered me. We’re all just actors. It’s weird to separate the concept because of our gender.
Who or what is the greatest love of your life?
My husband Charlie. He’s an incredibly supportive person, and is also the person I want to be around the most. He just makes me really happy.
When and where were you happiest?
The birth of my son was probably my happiest day. I was just so relieved that we were both okay, and so happy that he had arrived. I was so proud of him already.
Which talent would you most like to have?
I really wish I could play an instrument well. My mom had me playing piano when I was a kid, but I ditched piano lessons when I became a bratty teenager and it’s one of my biggest regrets. I also wish I could dance. I love watching other people dance, but I’m such a bad dancer, it’s kind of amazing.
Who are your heroes in real life?
People that are their authentic selves, always.
What is your motto?
Treat people how you want to be treated.
What do you always have in your fridge?
Cheese. I have a cheese problem. I can’t name one I don’t like.
How would you describe yourself as a parent?
A loving, passionate, empathetic, overthinking, slightly hovering second-guesser who’s just trying to do her best.
What is your parenting superpower?
I’m a natural nurturer and apparently a great cuddler.
What is your favourite memory of your own parents?
My parents were famous for their elaborate holiday parties. They’d throw a massive Halloween party every year, and my dad would shave off his beard and dress up like Dracula. They loved every holiday and were amazing at celebrating all of them.
What is a tradition from your childhood that you’ve carried on with your son?
Opening some presents on Christmas Eve. My dad and I were notorious for getting into the presents too early, and my mom would come home and freak because we’d be sitting there with crumpled wrapping paper at our feet. We both just couldn’t wait. So I let my son open a couple on Christmas Eve…especially if I can open a couple.
What do you love most about being a parent, and what do you dislike most?
I love the cuddles and I love the things kids say. I love the amount of love there is between a child and a parent, and the intensity of that love. I’m not a huge fan of meltdowns, I have to say. I’ve got a passionate, slightly dramatic kid, and he’s a bit of an over-actor too. No idea where he gets that from!
What has surprised you most about being a parent that you weren’t expecting?
All of the ways in which it points out the underlying issues in ourselves. The unresolved stuff comes to the surface pretty quickly. Nothing teaches you more about yourself than becoming a parent.
Favourite family vacation and why?
Whistler. We went in the middle of winter to the Four Seasons and swam in their glorious heated outdoor pool in the snow. It was a beautiful, relaxing weekend. We’re going to try to get to Maui in the new year, though. We’re big fans of the Grand Wailea.
What one trait or value are you most trying to instil in your children?
Kindness and empathy. A healthy sense of self.
What one trait are you hoping to avoid?
Cruelty of any kind, and not being inclusive towards others.
Favourite family summer activity?
Going to the Gulf islands. We have family on Galiano, and it’s one of our favourite places in the world. We get in the boat, we fish, we do beach walks and picnics. It’s a total recharge.
Favourite family winter activity?
Barreling down hills in tubes, even though I’m always worried one of us is gonna break a limb. See? Overthinker.