Recently, I had a chance to chat with actress and author Diane Farr (Numb3rs, Californication) about her interracial marriage and her gorgeous biracial children. Our chat was inspired by Diane’s new book Kissing Outside the Lines: A True Story of Love and Race and Happily Ever After.
|Photo by Shoots and Giggles Photography|
Without realizing it (and thanks to my husband’s choice of tv shows), I sort of followed Diane Farr’s television career. First with the drama Rescue Me and then the procedural Numb3rs. There were even a few episodes of Loveline waaay back in the day. Mostly I watched those shows because my husband did and I just happened to be in the same room. (Both Rescue Me and Numb3rs are great shows, by the way)
Imagine my excitement when I learned about her book Kissing Outside the Lines. Diane Farr (who is Caucasian) fell in love with Seung (pronounced “Sing”), a Korean American man, and have three adorable children together. I tweeted Diane about her book and she actually responded! I don’t usually tweet to celebrities but I was about her story. I’m about halfway through the book and highly recommend it. Her book focuses on her experiences with her in-laws as well as interviews with other interracial couples. It’s funny but also thoughtful and insightful.
In the beginning, her husband’s family did not approve of their relationship. Her husband had to slowly introduce just the idea of a non-Korean girlfriend to his family. Seung’s family referred to Diane as white, but she doesn’t consider herself white. “When I think of white, I think of pearls, the Kentucky Derby, and families that don’t yell at each other,” she elaborated. Because Diane wasn’t Korean, she was, for all intents and purposes, white according to Seung’s family.
Diane and her husband have three children: a son Beckett, who is 5 years old; and twin girls, Coco and Sawyer, who are 4 years old. I was more curious about how she and her husband approached race and culture with their children. Instead of teaching their children that they are Korean American and/or Irish/Italian American (Diane’s ethnic background), their children are being raised as American. All the Korean, Irish, and Italian parts of them come together to make American.
Growing up I wanted to be called American too, not Asian American. I shared my story of how a well meaning African American friend (who has an adult biracial daughter) advised that I teach my children that they are black because that is how others will perceive them. I chose to ignore this bit of advice, but I know many others feel the same way as my girlfriend. Diane acknowledges that there are parents of mixed race families who do tell their children which race to identify with, “Am I living in a dream world that I get to call them American? Are they going to be forced to chose beyond that? It seems if we stuck with that, they could choose whatever they wanted to identify as.”
Diane hopes “that 10 to 20 years from now, since my kids are so little, maybe [choosing a racial identity] won’t be so much of a topic.” Like most young children, Diane’s little ones don’t grasp the concept of race or ethnicity yet. She and Seung tried to point out “the idea that daddy’s Korean American and mommy’s Irish/Italian. They don’t really understand it.” She shared a time Beckett was so excited to see a friend, he said, “I love [my friend]. I’ll bet he’s Korean.” His friend isn’t Korean. Diane worried that she taught her children that being Korean is better: “I don’t think that we taught him it was better. We taught him that it was something that we liked about our culture and our family. I live carefully, trying to make sure that we don’t accidentally teach any superiority in any of the cultures and races.” I think that’s a delicate balance many parents struggle with, whether they have mixed race children or not.
Since I’m currently battling my kids about trying new foods, especially my childhood Vietnamese favorites, I had to ask about what Diane feeds her children. She tried introduced them to a wide variety in the beginning from corned beef and hash to the “more healthy vegetables you find in Korean food. They’re big fans of Korean food at our house.” Her advice on feeding her kids kimchi and other spicy Korean foods? “Anything that is too spicy, you just water down.”
Before we ended our chat, I asked Diane to share advice for parents of mixed race children:
“The biggest thing overall is exposure to other people like them. They don’t have to be the same mixes. If you can expose your children, if not on a daily basis, but at least on vacation, to an urban environment where there are lots of people who are the same race. It gives them a feeling that this is what America looks like. We do it with everything else as well, books, food, movies.”