By Luaine Lee McClatchy-Tribune News Service
There was one time in her life when Jenna Elfman considered quitting acting.
“Sometimes when I’ve gotten overwhelmed trying to do acting and motherhood I’ve wanted to quit acting, so I could just be a mom,” she said.
“But then I say, ‘You know what I’m missing? I’m really not managing my time properly. So I’ll just crank up my game on time management.’ And I handle it.”
She’s been handling it ever since she was 4 and first told her mother that she was going to be a “famous person on TV someday.”
That happened when Elfman captured the role of the kooky Dharma on the long-running series, “Dharma &Greg.”
Since then she’s appeared in multiple projects including “Damages,” “1600 Penn” and the upcoming film, “Big Stone Gap.”
But she’s back in series comedy now, with NBC’s new “Growing Up Fisher,” in which she plays the mother of a teenage daughter and an 11-year-old son.
For this role Elfman didn’t need drama school — she’d already logged a lifetime of training.
“My mom would babysit, we always took care of babies so I felt oriented to child care,” said Elfman, who has two sons, 4 and 6.
“My mom was always welcoming babies so I would feed babies bottles and change diapers, so it was in my life. l felt confident going into motherhood because I had an example set for me.
“So that makes me really want to set an example for my children, especially as men — to be oriented to child care so they’re not disconnected to that,” she said.
Elfman spent 14 years studying ballet before she ever tried acting. “It never felt like I was off track doing dance,” Elfman said.
“I just knew it was good training and I loved doing it. It’s art and it’s creative and it taught me having a work ethic. It taught me the importance of creativity and diligence toward a goal.”
But it was her appearance on the Academy Awards in 1991 that set her on quest for acting.
“I was like an inch tall on screen and one of 30 (dancers) when I said, ‘I really want to impact the world somehow,’ and I didn’t feel like I could do it in that capacity. That’s when I transitioned into acting. I was 19 and had been working doing what I love so I’d already proved to myself that I could do it. So then it was just, ‘OK, let’s try this,’” she said.
She continued dancing while she landed some commercials that supplemented her waitressing skills.
“I definitely worked from the bottom and I think that’s given me confidence in my career because if it all went away I’ve done it once, I could do it again.
“So I’ve never been afraid of failing because I’ve already proved myself. I can work hard and create a career for myself. I’ve had stress definitely, but not fear,” Elfman said.
She was 19 when she met her husband, Bodhi, to whom she’s been married 19 years.
She said, “I moved out of my parents’ house and in with Bodhi that was a big change to go from child to girlfriend, friend, quest-of-adventure, partner.
“Being with Bodhi has definitely changed my life because he’s very aware, and he demanded of me to sort of increase my awareness as well of life and people and things,” she said.
“He’s very astute. And I was always very fun. He’s more well-read than me and has a more refined point of view.”
“Growing Up Fisher” airs at 9:30 p.m. Tuesdays on NBC.