What are you?

I can’t believe I’m writing this, mostly because I can’t believe that you guys actually care. But judging by the number of times I get this question, I’m going to answer it. The question is, essentially, “what ARE you?” People ask in all kinds of ways, some more eloquent than others, but regardless of how it’s phrased, my heritage seems to be of interest.

This is funny to me, because when I was in the film industry, no one cared what my background really was.  Producers and casting directors took a quick look and placed me in two distinct categories:


This means “not blond.” No matter how many highlights they put in (and you know they tried) I was never going to be blond. And I occasionally needed a good waxing.  Apparently, Americans are all blond-haired, blue-eyed and devoid of body hair.


This means that I am short and possess smallish (real) breasts. This is a stark contrast to “waifish” which means tall, boobless and emaciated from never ever ingesting carbohydrates. This is also not “curvy” which means T&A all day but still managing to weigh under 120 lbs.

So, when producers were looking for an actor to play the tomboy, the friend or Joan of Arc, I was in. They wanted the feisty/moody/smart brunette? I had it covered. But, later in my career there seemed to be more and more calls for the “Britney Spears-type.”

That is something I would never be.

I just couldn’t act that well.

But as for my actual background: I am a Canadian mutt.

My mother’s side is Scottish and Welsh. My father’s side is Slovak. I know for certain that I mostly look like people from Dad’s part of the world, because when my husband and I went to Prague last Christmas, he often lost me in a sea of pale, petite, dark-haired women.

Contrary to popular belief, and my own personal wishes, I am not Jewish. This comes as a surprise to me, too, especially since one of the only places I’ve ever seen my last name is a long line of Jakubs listed in Holocaust museums. But my father’s side is Catholic, my mother’s side is Presbyterian but I wasn’t raised with any religious beliefs at all. I am now married to a Lutheran and I am…I guess…Buddhist-y.

Oh, and I’m also a massively introverted, right-brained Capricorn.

It’s messy and not that interesting, but it’s the truth and that’s what I love about life. The nuance and complications are what makes it fun…otherwise, everyone just gets some sort of arbitrary label like Athletic Ethnic Girl.

Everyone is deserving of more complexity than that.


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