Workin’ Moms: Frankie’s Struggles Hit Close to Home for Juno Rinaldi

Workin’ Moms may be a comedy, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to shy away from tackling tough subject matter. The new CBC series, which airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 p.m., follows a group of four friends as they adjust to motherhood and confront the issues involved with being a working mom. Postpartum depression is something many new mothers find themselves dealing with and Workin’ Moms is addressing that issue through Frankie (Juno Rinaldi), an unpredictable real estate agent struggling with instability and issues in her relationship with her partner Giselle (Olunike Adeliyi).

In Tuesday’s episode, “Sophie’s Choice-ish,” Frankie continues her therapy sessions with Anne (Dani Kind), but misreads some of her advice. In order to get a closer look at what’s ahead with Frankie, especially as she confronts her postpartum depression, The TV Junkies spoke with Rinaldi.

The actress, who has appeared on Degrassi: The Next Generation, The Killing, Arrow and Supernatural, is also an award-winning playwright and theater actor. The mother to two sons shared her own experience with postpartum, what it’s like being one of the Workin’ Moms and the reaction she’s heard from fans thus far.

The TV Junkies: Have you been hearing from a lot of fellow working moms out there? What’s the response been like to the show so far?

Juno Rinaldi: People seem to be really digging the show, the tone, the characters and the story lines. When I read the script I felt like, ‘Yes! Finally, someone speaking my language!’ I love that Catherine and our amazing writers have crafted these women, worlds and scenarios that feel so authentic and real. Lots of people saying, ‘Oh, yes! Anne is me!’ Or, ‘I can totally relate to Kate.’ Each character is unique and strikes a chord with people differently.

I have also received emails from older family members and family friends who have expressed that the show is “bringing them back” to memories and times that they have forgotten about, but also remember like it was yesterday. No matter the age, we ALL have a Workin’ Mom in us.

TTVJ: Dealing with postpartum depression (PPD) is something many moms go through and I was very happy to see the show tackling it. Did you do any kind of research or how did you prepare knowing Frankie would be battling that this season?

JR: I experienced my own PPD with the birth of my second child. So I could totally relate and empathize with what Frankie was going through. It’s a tricky beast PPD. It kind of snuck up on me. I had a tough third trimester, crazy fast birth, a baby that was the worst sleeper, and then I wanted to go back to work so desperately for fear of being “forgotten” as an actor and known only as a “mom” that I took on a show much, much too early.

There were some other contributing factors as well, and that’s what I learned; the cup just got too full and tipped over. I remember calling a dear friend of mine and saying, ‘Something doesn’t feel right’ and she asked, ‘Like, doesn’t feel right in a normal, I just had a baby way, or doesn’t feel right in a scary, not good way?’ Just her asking me that – I was able to get perspective on it and go, ‘Oh ya, something is really not right, this doesn’t feel normal.’

I then sought help from an amazing resource in British Columbia (where we were living at the time) called The Pacific Postpartum Support Society. I enrolled in their group sessions and slowly crept my way back to myself. While I was in it, it was a very very dark time, but looking back on it – it was also a transformative time as well. The gifts that PPD gave me far outweigh the pain. My son is now 7, so I have had many years of distance from it – but it’s definitely something I acutely remember.

I have deep, deep respect and empathy for women struggling with PPD. It’s an incredibly isolating, shameful experience. Or at least it can be, it was with me, until I got help. I would want them all to know that they are not alone, as cheesy as that sounds, and that it does end, and you are not a bad mother at all for feeling what you do. I totally GET. IT.

Juno - Workin Moms

TTVJ: Will Frankie’s struggles with postpartum continue? How will she attempt to get help?

JR: Without giving anything away, when one is struggling with PPD it cannot be immediately apparent that that is in fact what it is. Sometimes it can take some time to really identify it. I think Frankie is aware that something is not right, and it may be PPD, but it’s a cloudy time. When you have a new baby and everything seems amazing or awful. Or both. I guess we’ll have to wait and see.

TTVJ: We’ve seen some of Frankie and Giselle’s relationship and there seems to be some trouble brewing. Can you preview what lies ahead for them?

JR: With the birth of any child comes a massive shift in the family dynamic. I heard somewhere that a family is like a mobile and when you add another part to a mobile it immediately gets off balance, wobbles around, tips, falls, maybe breaks…but slowly, with adjustments and delicate care it will find its balance again. And each person on the mobile reacts differently. So, Frankie is adjusting just as much as Giselle is adjusting – both of them trying their best to embrace this new, very unknown dynamic.

TTVJ: The Workin’ Moms cast seems like a really fun group. What was it like to work with Catherine, Dani and Jessalyn?

JR: Awful. The. Worst. No, no…It was the best! Very funny, very talented, very smart, but most of all, very authentic caring women who I admire deeply. All fighting the good fight in their personal and professional lives. Hearts out, wounds out, fears out, risk takers. My kind of people. You know that quote by Emile Zola? “If you ask me what I came to do in this world, I, an artist, will answer you: I am here to live out loud.” That’s them.

JunoRinaldi - Working Moms

TTVJ: Of the four of you, which actress is most like their character? Or maybe least like their character?

JR: It’s scary how much we are all like our characters. Catherine [Reitman] made a joke the other day ‘that we’re all so similar to our characters it’s like we’re all method.’ So, yes, she was comparing us to Daniel Day-Lewis. Not gonna lie. Kind of the best. There is for sure a part of me that is Frankie as with any character I do. It’s a wonderful part of the job accessing these different parts of yourself for a role.

TTVJ: Outside of Frankie’s story, is there anything else we should be keeping an eye out that’s still to come on this season?

JR: A plane crash. Car chase and a snake eating contest. Frankie wins! Sorry. I’m annoying myself with these jokes. There is LOTS to come. Lots of incredible moments to be unturned. Stay tuned! ‘Cause it gets good!

TTVJ: I know you’re a writer in addition to being an actress. Do you have any other projects coming up we should be aware of?

JR: My writing partners and I have a couple of things in the works right now. A few different ideas that we are developing for TV and Film. And my husband (part of our writing team) and I finished a two-hander stage play called Stationary that we wrote and performed at Theatre Aquarius in Hamilton. A 40-something couple meets at a community gym and strikes up an unlikely friendship. We set it on two treadmills and did the entire show either running or walking. I loved that. So, we are shopping it around now, to tour.

If you’re a fan of Workin’ Moms, be sure to check out our exclusive sneak peek at the highly anticipated final season – and while you’re here, don’t miss Juno Rinaldi and Jessalyn Wanlims’s candid interview for big changes for Frankie and Jenny.

Workin’ Moms airs Tuesdays at 9:30 pm on CBC.