MOUNT AIRY-BORN, Hollywood-based actor Holly Robinson Peete has spent most of her 48 years in La-La Land. But the mother of four, daughter of Sesame Street's original "Gordon" and wife of one-time Birds QB Rodney Peete still keeps it real, Philly-style.
Robinson Peete made her first onscreen splashes in "21 Jump Street" and "Hangin' with Mr. Cooper." Today, she's still acting - she has recently appeared in "Blue" and "Mike & Molly," and is in talks with NBC to return to daytime. She also writes children's books and helms the HollyRod Foundation, which raises funds for autism and Parkinson's disease awareness. Her dad had Parkinson's. Her 16-year-old son RJ - a twin - has autism.
Here, she talks with Lauren McCutcheon about motherhood, "Sesame Street," Eagles great Harold Carmichael and her plans to help Philly families who are struggling in ways hers has. After all, as she says, "Nothing like hometown love."
Q What was your neighborhood like, growing up?
Our street in Mount Airy had every nationality, every mixture. It was a melting pot. My fourth-grade class picture from Greene Street Friends looks like the U.N. So when my dad was going to start on this groundbreaking show ["Sesame Street"] with all these different children, I was like, that looks like my block!
Q Do you come from a family of Eagles fans?
My dad just bled Eagles green. I think my first words were "Harold Carmichael." On June 10, 1995, the eve of my wedding to Rodney, Rodney found out he was going to the Eagles. Short of walking down the aisle with Doctor J., that was the fairy tale my dad dreamed of, to see me married to an Eagles quarterback.
Q What's next for the HollyRod Foundation?
My ultimate goal is to establish a full-service compassionate care for autism, where families can do everything from getting behavioral services to getting their hair cut. Our idea is to do a first one in L.A. and a second in Philadelphia.
Q You've been a mom for 16 years. How's that?
I wouldn't say it's flown by. It's this overwhelming bliss and then stress at the same time. Motherhood makes you better, but it's so hard.
Q Think any of your kids will become an athlete or actor?
We definitely have a couple athletes in this crew. My middle boy Robinson, he's an insane baseball player. And Rodney was drafted by the Oakland A's and the Toronto Blue Jays - he chose to be an NFL quarterback.
RJ's playing a little basketball, my youngest is playing baseball, and my daughter is playing volleyball. There are also little whisperings, now and again, of, "Can you get me an audition for a Nickelodeon show?"
Just like my dad did, I push back on that. I don't want to be driving everybody to auditions. Ain't nobody got time for that!
Q What will you guys do this Mother's Day?
Rodney's a little slow pulling a plan together, so I went to my daughter and said, "You need to go to Daddy and ask him what his plan is, so we're not squeezing into a restaurant at the last minute." I told her, "Tell him Mommy wants a spa day, and that Mommy wants brunch."