Actress Garcelle Beauvais, 45, stars as Denzel Washington's ex-wife in the upcoming movie Flight, an intense mystery drama about a pilot's miraculous emergency landing. After starting out as a model for Clairol and Avon and on the runway for Calvin Klein and Isaac Mizrahi, Beauvais' movie career took off with Coming to America opposite Eddie Murphy. She's best known for her past TV roles in The Jamie Foxx Show and NYPD Blue, and she now appears in the TNT legal drama Franklin & Bash. Born in Haiti, Beauvais also stars in a new 30-minute DVD drama called Eyes to See about the 2010 earthquake's aftermath.
You've been very up front in interviews and blogs about dealing with your divorce from your ex-husband, Mike Nilon. How are you handling it with your twin boys, Jax and Jaid?
We share custody 50-50, and we've managed to put them first. We thought it was important for them to feel like things are stable, so we did their rooms the same in each home, with the same sheets. They have rolly backpacks that they take back and forth with the stuffed animals they sleep with. [Beauvais also has a grown son, Oliver, 21, from her first marriage.]
What would you tell newly single moms dealing with parenting after a divorce?
Keep your head up and put the kids first. I think people get caught up with the anger and the sadness from whatever the reason for the breakup is. But you have to remember that the kids are the most important thing, and you only get one shot at a childhood. We still do things together as a family and are doing the best we can to make great memories. We're making it as beautiful as we can for them.
As they get older, how are you handling the "twin thing"?
Well, they just started back to school. I'm about to go pick them up from their second day in a big school. We're going to have them in separate kindergartens next year so they can have their own space, but we didn't want to bring them to a new school and then separate them right away. So they're in a pre-K class together, at the same school where they'll go to kindergarten next year. I can't wait to hear how their day went, but it's hard to get them to tell me anything!
Family meal time is so important. How do you manage to make that work?
It's not always easy -- they're turning 5 this month, and sometimes it gets a little crazy. But we always start our meal with a prayer, and then I'll tell a story to keep them focused. Sometimes I have to start making things up, but they'll want to hear more and then we can settle down for dinner together.
What do you do to de-stress?
What's your workout regimen?
I need to be better about it, honestly. It's the first thing to go for me when my schedule gets crazy. If I don't do it in the morning, I'm not going to do it at all -- unless I'm gearing up for something so specific that I have to be really diligent about it. I like Cardio Barre. It's an hour, and I sweat like nobody's business. I love that and I love Pilates. It's really great for toning.
In a perfect world, if I could do each twice a week, then oh, honey! But life gets in the way.
What does an ideal day look like for you, when you have no work commitments?
I know exactly what that is! Waking up late and not rushing out of bed. The kids don't have to go to school, so they come into my bed until it gets a little too rough and then I want outta there. We'll have breakfast and then we get in the pool. Sometimes we're in the pool at 8:30 a.m.! And then just having a really great day with no "have to's." We don't have to go to a birthday party, we don't have to go to karate. We're so scheduled these days that we just forget to sometimes stay in our pajamas and do nothing. We need downtime.
What's your go-to easy dinner?
Probably barbecuing. That's easy -- you just turn the grill on, put the food on, and you can walk away and do other stuff and come back. We'll barbecue corn and grill vegetables -- the kids love that.
When you're trying to drop 5 pounds, what do you cut first?
The yummy stuff -- carbs like bread and pasta. Usually pasta! And then I up my water intake. I'm not a big water drinker, so water gets kicked up a notch, and then I just go for smaller portions and eating earlier.
I Am Mixed, the first in your three-book series published by Stranger Comics, debuts this fall. How did your sons inspire you to start writing children's books?
When we go to the bookstore, which we do a lot, there weren't many books with characters who looked like them. I'm Haitian and Mike is Irish, and I wanted them to understand the blend of what makes them who they are. So it came to me that I needed to do this.
Jax and Jaid are my reviewers. They like this part, and they don't like that part. Sometimes they're a little too bossy about it, and I tell them to go play! But it's been a really great process. The next book is about divorce from a kid's point of view, because they're from a divorced family. [I Am Mixed, the first in Beauvais' three-book series, will be published this fall by Stranger Comics.]
"It's nice when you can have little moments when you can kind of pat yourself on the back for handling a parenting situation well."
-- leftcoastgirl, WebMD community member
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