Like her character, Athena Carter, on Fox drama 9-1-1, Angela Bassett wears many hats. She’s a wife, a mom, a highly accomplished actress, and a businesswoman. We recently had the privilege of catching up with the busy mom of two to discuss the new season of 9-1-1 and how she juggles her bustling career with working motherhood.
MN: One of the first things that jumped out at me about the season four trailer was that many of the first responders were wearing masks. Will the storyline touch on the COVID-19 pandemic?
Angela: Absolutely. Yeah, they are following the protocols and safety measures as first responders. There are moments where we don’t have to [wear ppe] because we don’t want it to be too distracting but I don’t think we would really you know consciously be able to go forward without embracing it.
MN: What else can fans expect from the new season?
Angela: Lots has gone on since we left Athena. She was involved in a really traumatic beatdown you know. Although her body, and her arm, and her face has healed, she’s still a little hesitant to get back up on the horse again. But she’s called back into it as there is a very traumatic incident in our city.
MN: I know that you’re a mom to teenage twins. What have your conversations been like since the Capitol riots?
Angela: It’s always been a continued conversation of what life is like as a little Black boy and a Black girl and how we continue to grow in spite of. From kindergarten on up to about 12, they say, “You teach ’em, you tell ’em. You show ’em, you teach ’em.” But at this age, you begin to listen to them. You know, “How do you feel about what’s going on?” We’ve been having conversations all along in ways that are appropriate for their maturity level. You want them to understand and yet not. Not deplete them or tear at their enthusiasm and hopefulness. But it’s really disappointing to them and their peers.
MN: I have so many aspirations, but I often feel heavy feelings of guilt as I try to juggle work and parenting my almost two-year-old. Does this get any easier as the kids get older?
Angela: It ebbs and flows. That’s how I feel but I’ve definitely had those moments of intense guilt. Sometimes, I’m up at five and then I’m gone or it’s been weeks and weeks and I haven’t prepared them a meal. You do the best that you can. And of course, sometimes, I’ve gone fishing like, “Do you think I’m a good mom? I’m so sorry that I can’t…” and they’re like, “No mom, you’re the best. You have to work mom [laughs].” Then by the time they’re 14 or 15, they’re doing their own thing. “Drop me off at the park. Can I have some money? Can I have some pizza? Can my friend come over?” You get a lot more freedom in time.
MN: That’s comforting. Right now, she’s just like, “Play with me. I need all of your attention now.”
Angela: For now, 15 minutes of consistent playtime will take you far. But also I think just being a mom, getting up, going to work, being a boss, and being passionate about what you do, I think that’s a perfect role model for a little girl and a little boy to see. You’re not a mom from the 60s. It’s not just, “Here’s a clean house and a meal. You know what? I’m gonna teach you how to make your own meal. By the time you leave here, you’re going to have five good meals in your pocket. You will learn to take care of yourself as well. Let me show you how to iron these shirts.”
MN: That’s really important, especially for the boys. Oftentimes, moms will show the girls the ropes and the boys leave home completely helpless.
Angela: I had a recognition of that early on, especially having twins, a boy, and a girl. The girl is really looking at you. At one point, I had to say, “I’m the mama. I’ll tell him what to do.” She was trying to imitate me. Literally, at three. And with him, it’s like, “Oh, he’s just so cute” and I had to fight against it. “Come and sweep this up. No no, clean this kitchen. No, wipe the countertop after you get up from the meal. No, you’re going to clean up after yourself.”
MN: Last but not least, you’ve been married for 20-plus years. What has been your most essential lesson in marriage?
Angela: It starts before you even get married. You gotta marry the right person. Not trying to figure it out after the fact, I think it starts before you say, “yes.” They will compromise sometimes and you will compromise sometimes. It’s all a dance and a negotiation. And ensuring that there’s just respect. It’s important that you can count on each other when it’s raining and help each other to see that the sun will come out again.
The new season of 9-1-1- premieres on January 20 on Fox.