Today I am beyond thrilled to share this interview with the very beautiful (inside and out) and incredibly talented Hollywood actress and health and wellness blogger, Teresa Palmer.
Teresa stars in recent release Hacksaw Ridge (The true story of conscientious objector Desmond T. Doss who saved 75 men in Okinawa, during the bloodiest battle of WWII, without firing a single shot. He was the only American soldier in WWII to fight on the front lines without a weapon and the first conscientious objector to ever win the Congressional Medal of Honor) which has been nominated 6 Oscars, 3 golden globes, and 5 BAFTA’s, among other awards.
She’s also had leading roles in lots of other films, including; The Choice, Warm Bodies, Lights Out, Bedtime Stories, The Sorcerers Apprentice, I Am Number Four, Triple 9, December Boys… to name just a few.
In addition to being an incredibly successful actor, she happens to be a spiritual guru of sorts to many and has created the most wonderful blogs, ‘Your Zen Life’ (that I’m honoured to have written for!) and ‘Your Zen Mama’ – a must read for all care-givers.
Her YouTube ‘Tez Talks’ are utterly brilliant and addictive so if you’re new to them, prepare to become hooked!
Best of all, she’s the Aussie pen pal I always wanted and never had, ha!
I’m convinced she must be the most down to earth woman in Hollywood and I am lucky enough to know first-hand how lovely, sweet and kind she is on a personal level. I just love her!
And I know you will fall in love with her honesty and authenticity in this interview, where we chat motherhood, Hollywood, dreams, illness, challenges and inspirations.
Teresa is such an inspirational young woman and if you haven’t before, you must check out her blogs and join her community of YZL and YZM… I’ll see you there!
Photograph taken from Your Zen Life blog website.
MM: Thanks for joining us on Mindfood Magpie. I know you’re super busy and super pregnant so I really appreciate it! Last time we spoke you still hadn’t begun packing up your belongings for your big move to Adelaide to have your second baby, even though you were just about to fly! You’re in Adelaide now, how’s it going?!
TP: Yes! We are in Adelaide now and I’m 36 weeks along – CRAZINESS! We’ve just started buying a ton of furniture for the house and getting settled in… I haven’t had a ton of time to relax yet but hopefully I can get some relaxing in before this babe arrives earth side!
MM: What made you decide to have baby boy number two in Australia?
TP: Because we had just bought a house in Adelaide (Teresa and Mark have recently purchased her father home – Teresa‘s childhood home – which is also a kangaroo and animal sanctuary!) and we really wanted to have Christmas down here, so it just made sense to come down at this time, set up the house, give birth to our babe and then spend time here together with our extended family for Christmas. I also love that in Adelaide they offer water birth in a hospital setting.
MM: Speaking of your upcoming hospital birth… I know you attempted a home birth with Bodhi, but had to transfer to hospital in the end. Now you’re planning a hospital birth from the get-go, albeit in a midwifery led unit – and in the pool, which sounds lovely. Were you disappointed that your initial dreams didn’t come to fruition or has your opinion on birthing changed?
TP: No I wasn’t, I know now why it didn’t happen at home and that it all had to do with not understanding Bodhi’s posterior position (the most optimal and easy way for a baby to be positioned is anterior) and if I had known I would’ve done exercises to turn him before labour. I had all the typical issues arise that come with a posterior baby. I still had a really positive and beautiful birth with him in the hospital so it was a wonderful learning experience that taught me to let go of expectations and just allow the experience to happen as it does…
MM: So would you say your birth with Bodhi was still a wholly positive experience then?
TP: I loved it! It was like a beautiful dance between us. It was long and arduous at times but also really connected and fun. I felt very ‘in my power’, womanly and animalistic, like I was a part of this incredible tribe of birthing mama warriors. I really loved it; the peaks, valleys and surprises of it all.
MM: While trying to conceive baby number two you sadly suffered a molar pregnancy, which must have been traumatic. Has this altered your experience with pregnancy in any way?
TP: I just think some woman can take their fertility for granted – I was one of them. I got pregnant so easily with Bodhi and then it took 14 months to get pregnant with this guy. I had the misconception that once you’ve had a healthy birth it’s so easy to get pregnant again. I also didn’t factor in breastfeeding and the toll it has on your body when trying to conceive. It makes me so grateful to be able to carry babies myself and reminds me of the miracle that is conception, pregnancy and birth.
MM: You live between Adelaide and LA. What’s that been like? What made you decide to spilt the time between Australia and the USA?
TP: I love both places equally. There is such a relaxing vibe in Australia, especially Adelaide where we have our home. It’s so far from the world that we live in when we are in LA. We have 10 acres of land, so the kids can run play and explore. It’s so removed from the city and very peaceful with tons of animals and beautiful birds. In LA we love it because we have all our favourite restaurants nearby, tons of friends, Bodhi’s preschool and just an amazing lifestyle that we love so much. Having homes in both places means we get to experience such beautiful differences and life experiences as do our children. It helps with our growth and expansion and theirs.
MM: I absolutely love your incredible blog Your Zen Life. Now you’ve branched out with the sister site, Your Zen Mama. It is such a brilliant resource and support system for parents. Is this one of the most fulfilling elements of your career?
TP: Absolutely. Parenting is my favourite thing to do in life so it’s just natural that I wanted to incorporate my passion in to my work. My friend and co-founder Sarah and I have such a similar outlook to parenting and life in general that we decided it would be an amazing and exciting venture for us to start YZM and the response has been overwhelming thus far. I think as mothers we’re really craving a positive and beautiful space to talk all things parenting!
MM: You know that I adore your Tez Talk videos especially. They are one of my favourite things to watch on YouTube… Were you apprehensive at any point about being so open and raw, when your primary job in the movie industry is within such a polished, glossy, manufactured world? Was there ever a conflict of interests between being the movie star and being the person in the videos?
TP: I think when I was younger I wasn’t aligned with my authentic spirit… I was purely focused on my film career and had all eggs in that one basket which was really led by my team of agents and managers. It wasn’t fulfilling me so I started delving in to other areas in life; spirituality, meditation, consciousness and mindful living, vegetarianism, etc. I then realised that to be my true self I had to incorporate these other areas of interest in to my work. Tez Talks and Your Zen Life was born and it was so healing to be able to focus on being real and connecting on levels that felt open and honest, stripping away the barriers between someone with a profile and someone without. We are all human beings navigating life and I wanted to make sure that anyone who followed my career never for a moment felt isolated, shamed, less than because of their interest in me as an actor.
MM: You are very committed to living consciously. How do you balance the glitz and glamour of your thriving Hollywood career with your spirituality?
TP: My life as an actor doesn’t define me, it’s just what I do to support my family and is one of my many passions. I treat it as an aspect of life not my whole life, it’s as equal as any other part of my life. The glitz and glamour is very fleeting and just a part of my world. My spirituality is my everyday and always. It’s the constant and helps me keep things in perspective. I think I have a healthy relationship with those other sides of my life because I feel very unwavering in my belief system and my commitment to living as authentically as I can.
MM: One of the most incredible things about your family is that not only are you blending together so successfully but you were even the bridesmaid at the mother of your stepson (and ex of your partner) wedding! She is also a godmother of Bodhi! What tips would you give to people trying to navigate the stepmom role?
TP: Remember that unless the mother is not in the picture that you do not have to take on the maternal role. Isaac is my little mate. We connect and laugh together, but I never treat him like my child. I love him like my little comrade. I care for him and his well being, I’m affectionate with him, proud of him and love to teach him and learn from him but I don’t mother him. He has a perfectly wonderful mother who can do that for him so I offer up a different dynamic. That’s been very successful in our situation. Also super honest communication with your partner and your step child’s other parents is paramount. Without having an open, honest and compassionate relationship with them you can run in to friction, resentment and disease very easily.
MM: Good advice. Speaking of which. In terms of books, which authors advise you? What are your favourite self-development style books?
TP: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, The Four Agreements, The Places That Scare You by Pema Chodron.
MM: What are your favourite parenting books?
TP: For Birth; Ina May Gaskin’s Birth Matters, Ina May Gaskin’s Spiritual Midwifery, Dr Sears’s The Baby Book, The Continuum Concept by Jean Liedloff, Anything by Dr Shefal Tsabary.
MM: I know you like a good thriller. You recommended an amazing author to me (Liane Moriarty) and I read each of the books in one day! Have you got any more for me, and us, at Mindfood Magpie?
TP: I’m all about authors as I always fall in love with their style and voice. Get through all these ones and I’ll give you more! All the Liane Moriarty books! Kate Morretti’s novels and Gillian Flynn’s ones too (duh!).
MM: What’s your own favourite movie?
TP: Berlin Syndrome (to be released) and Hacksaw Ridge (Warm Bodies is up there though too).
MM: What’s the movie, or the role, if you could pick one, from any time, that you’d have loved to be a part of?
TP: Natalie Portman’s role in CLOSER, I’m obsessed!
MM: Now we are on the topic of roles… you’ve worked almost non-stop since you had Bodhi! Was that a surprise to you? Did you expect to take on so many roles as a new mum?
TP: I certainly didn’t have that expectation but it was amazing and surreal and just wonderful that I had these opportunities and that I could bring him with me to work every day. I never had to leave him. It was such an incredible experience and I fell in to a really organic and healthy way of balancing my work and home life. I feel very grateful about all of it.
MM: Your latest movie, Hacksaw Ridge, a true story directed by Mel Gibson, has had the most incredible reviews and reaction (including a ten minute standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival!). It makes me quite emotional when I hear about the beautiful response because I’m so happy for you. What was the experience of making the movie like and now promoting it?
TP: It’s such an incredibly special movie. It is so meaningful to me to be a part of a film that has the potential to affect positive change in the world and I feel completely moved and overwhelmed by the response. It’s a film people are connecting with on a very deep emotional level and makes me want to only do films that people can experience in that way!
MM: Your mum has suffered with mental illness… Obviously that’s come with challenges but what positives have come from observing her experience and your collective experience with those challenges?
TP: It’s just a part of life that people will navigate ill health in some form or another. I can’t let the emotions overtake me, it’s just surrendering to the experience and throwing a ton of love, compassion and acceptance at the reality of our lives. Her illness has also made her one of the most amazingly real, gentle and loving souls I know and there is always a gift in the struggle, even if we have to search awhile to find it…
MM: I was really sorry to hear that your mum had another big health challenge last year. Her fight with cancer led you to being involved with the charity Pink Hope. What can you tell us about the charity?
TP: The charity is about encouraging woman to take control of their health and make sure all woman have access to information, support and encouragement to prevent breast and ovarian cancer. Luckily my mum’s breast cancer was caught very, very early and she has now made a full recovery. Being in the know about our health is an integral part of lowering cancer occurrence.
MM: What are your dreams for the future?
TP: To continue on the path I’m on, to have a bunch more children, work with inspiring people making movies that audiences connect with, furthering my loving and deep relationship with my husband, balancing my mind, body and health and starting my philanthropic endeavours. I have an endless amount of dreams!
MM: Fast forward two or three decades, what’s your dream of how you’d like your children to describe your parenting and their childhood?
TP: I hope they describe it as fun, adventurous, connected, loving, diverse and happy and I hope they describe my parenting in the same way!
MM: What, other than your family, makes you happy?
TP: Seeing people in their element shining brightly makes me so happy I could burst!
MM: Who inspires you?
TP: Anyone navigating the struggle and leaning in to their life’s path. Those who have a profile who use that pedestal to help others reach their dreams.
MM: You’ve had great success with manifesting, which is a big hobby of mine too! What are you manifesting now?
TP: That this baby will turn from posterior to anterior! I only have 3 or so weeks to go so I’m channelling a lot of manifesting energy in to that!
MM: What’s next on the career agenda… Any more blogs hehe… I know you’re an animal lover…Your Zen Pets maybe?!
TP: Hahaha! Good idea, I’ll pocket that one for later maybe when I’m retired and my kids have moved out! Developing YZM and YZL further, working with directors I love and being very selective with the films I take on!