Jay Laga'aia is a father of eight and one of Australia's most recognised faces having starred in an extraordinary number of films, TV programs and stage productions. Jay is currently seen on television as Rev. Elijah Johnson on Home and Away as well as his ongoing role as one of the most popular hosts of Play School.
If that’s not enough to keep him busy, Jay is also filming the third series of ABC TV’s Bed of Roses.
To add to Jay’s many talents, he is now releasing his much anticipated second children’s CD I Can Play Anything. This is the follow up to his highly successful 2007 release Come Dance and Sing which was nominated for a 2008 ARIA award for Best Children's Album.
Ahead of Father's Day 2010 sat down to chat to EB about what fatherhood means for him.
1. How many children do you have? What age / sex are they?
I have 8 children. Sons aged 26, 18, 12, 8 and daughters 10, 5, 3 and 1 – thank you mother for the rabbits.
2. What has surprised you the most about becoming a father?
How childlike you can still be (laughs) much to the horror of my wife – you can use anytime as playtime. It's not unusual for us to get up from dinner half way through the meal to have a dance around the table so yes one of the best things about being a father is that I can play with my children any time of the day.
3. Do you miss anything about your life prior to having children?
I can't remember! I think that was just before they invented colour. I am like the Bourne Identity – I can't remember anything before children. So I have to answer no, I don’t miss anything.
4. What is the hardest part about being a dad?
The hardest part of being a day is being away from them – I don’t find discipline to difficult – I stand up and they tend to run! That’s a good thing. But my wife – she is the meanie of the family.
5. How has your relationship with your partner changed since you have become parents?
I hardly speak to her! (laughs). We like it that way – we communicate using our eyebrows up and eyebrows down – to signify surprise, happy or, "I don’t know they name of that child" (laughs).
We have just celebrated our 20th anniversary and that’s been fantastic.
6. What advice do you have for new fathers or fathers to be?
Just remember that your wife during her pregnancy may not have any drugs at all but during the labour you can have as much as you want I suggest you start with the gas as it numbs everything out - from there happy days are here again.
7. What are you great at?
I am world champion at folding clothes while still being about to see the television I can look like I am busy when I am not - I am looking like I am busy now!
8. What are you terrible at?
I am terrible at making lists but my wife can make fantastic lists –I just remember what happened in the last two minutes.
9. How has your attitude to work / career changed since becoming a father and how do you manage the juggle of family and work?
My wife states the facts – she carried these children for 9 months but I carry them for 20 years financially, so I think I win. I suppose as far career is concerned – I want to be home more with my children but unfortunately I can’t. Hopefully I can find a job change to work at home – maybe a cleaning job maybe not!
10. Do your children recognise their dad as being ‘famous’ or well known? And if so, how do they cope with this?
No not really – its something they have grown up with their lives. It's always interesting when a 10 year old starts to tell everybody about the different jobs I have worked on, like he is working as my PA so other than that, my children would prefer to me throw the ball with them than actually perform for them.
10. What do you do in your leisure or ‘me’ time?
I have no idea what that word means – me time? Me time is an actors warm up. 'Me me me' is the aboriginal word for land. Me - I don’t have any leisure time - the only leisure time I have at the moment is waiting for another delayed flight!
11. Who do you admire? Why?
My wife - She can get up at 6am and she will work work and she loves taking our children to all the different sport events – I love it too (not). She can also remember where the soccer grounds are – I can never remember when the soccer grounds are but she assures me if she shouts at me loud enough then I will remember.
13. What kind of ‘Australia’ do you hope for your children’s future?
I would like a tolerant Australia. I hope our children grow up to be able to try anything they want to.
14. Describe your perfect ‘Fathers Day’?
- My wife and children and smiling and happy
- That no one fights me for the remote control to the tv
- And that my blessed All Blacks team were playing anywhere in the world (don’t tell me wife.)
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