Jenna Dewan Tatum doesn’t beat around the bush, do mom guilt (anymore), or understand why women put their own needs last. Talking to her is like getting the best sort of pep talk — kind, smart, and no BS.
REDBOOK – Jenna Dewan Tatum prefers a warm hug over a swift introductory handshake, and leans in close to chat like she’s an old confidant. But don’t mistake all that niceness for compliance. “I always say that I have a fairy side and an edgy side,” she tells me over a late-afternoon lunch in Los Angeles. Drawing on a mix of girliness and grit has worked for the 36-year-old actress, who left college to be a backup dancer for Janet Jackson and then pirouetted onto the big screen alongside Channing Tatum in 2006’s Step Up. The film ignited a real-life romance between the two, who married in 2009 and now have a 3-year-old daughter, Everly.
Jenna’s since had splashy supporting roles on hit TV shows like American Horror Story and Supergirl, but has lately turned her focus to projects that allow her more control. Before signing on to host the new NBC competition series World of Dance, she says, “I told them, ‘If you want Ryan Seacrest, hire Ryan Seacrest.’ I love working with dancers. If there’s a way to incorporate that, then I’m excited.” She got her way, and when the show premieres this month, she’ll mentor contestants, or as she says, be their “mama bear and backstage cheerleader.” With Channing, she’s producing a web series based on Step Up — but their most important shared project hits even closer to home: “”We want our daughter to grow up confident and believing that she can go after whatever she wants.” So it’s no shocker that Jenna has great pointers on embracing independence, raising strong girls, and tapping your inner power at any age.
On finding time to connect with her husband, Channing Tatum:
“We are not sex schedulers – not yet! Give us a couple more years. Maybe with child number two. There’s a beauty in being two busy people because we get a lot of time to miss each other. To continue to miss someone after so many years is kind of a blessing in disguise.”
On her biggest relationship challenge:
“Communication. You change when you’re together from 25 to 35. I think maybe in my early 20s, I might have tiptoed around issues or didn’t want to make too many waves. Now it’s like, “This is how I’m feeling.” You have to be okay with the other person becoming defensive, to let them be emotional and accept that it won’t be okay for a while.”
On keeping her relationship exciting:
“I think all women should keep it exciting for themselves. People always ask, “Do you do anything to keep it fresh for your man?” I hate that question. I’m like, “No. Why is it for your man? I do things to keep it fresh for myself. The lingerie I buy is not for him necessarily. It’s for us and for myself. If you feel sexy, then it’s good for you.”
On being a feminist — and having a feminist husband:
“We should want equality for men and women. Men should want that too. Chan is for women’s rights and so am I. Women should have the right to be the best they can be and make their own choices for themselves. Our daughter is young, but I think as she gets older, she’s going to be all about the standard for women we keep at home — she’s going to be strong.”
For more from Jenna, pick up the May issue of Redbook on newsstands April 18.