Justin Baldoni Opens Up About His New Show 'Man Enough' & Shares Inspiring Dad Goals
The actor and his wife Emily Foxler Baldoni got real about handling gender stereotypes with their two-year-old daughter and nearly two-month-old son.
Justin Baldoni may be best known for playing Rafael on The CW's Jane the Virgin, but the 33-year-old actor is quickly building his reputation as an outspoken feminist and social activist. Back in October, his TED Talk called, "Why I'm done trying to be 'man enough'" -- which aimed to start a dialogue with men about redefining masculinity -- went hugely viral. Now, Justin is debuting a weekly web show, produced by his media company Wayfarer Entertainment and made possible by Harry's, fittingly called Man Enough.
The gist: Famous dudes from all corners of showbiz sit down to dinner to discuss what it means to be a man right now. Moderated by the actor and entrepreneur, the show covers a huge variety of topics -- from fatherhood to body image, marriage, happiness, sexual harassment, and feminism. Their goal is to have conversations that men don't usually have -- especially not with a camera rolling.
As a dad of two -- two-year-old Maiya and almost two-month-old Maxwell -- who he shares with his wife Emily, Justin is acutely aware of how many of these issues will come up in conversations related to raising his children. Following a private premiere screening of Man Enough's first episode on Wednesday, December 13, Justin and Emily sat down to talk to to Parents.com exclusively about the challenges they realize they'll face -- or are already in the midst of tackling -- with their L.O.s related to gender stereotypes.
"I think that having a kid at all, whether it's a girl or a boy, it makes you think about humanity, like who we are as people," Emily shared. "Who I am as a woman, who [Justin] is as a man, and who are they going to grow up to be, and who will they be surrounded by? How will men act around my daughter when she's 16, 18, and how will women be with my son, how will he be with women? There are just so many questions when you become a parent. ... One thing that I think we decided early on ... we wanted [our kids] to be able to feel and we want to be the kind of parents that have our arms open to whatever emotions they have. And we want to be there for them to talk about whatever it may be. Even if they're like hating on us, I want to be the kind of mom who's like, 'OK, give it to me, I'm here to listen, I get it and I'm sorry.' That's who we want to be. Especially with our son. We want him to grow up and know he can be a boy and then a man who's allowed to feel and be emotional."
Meanwhile, Justin shares that he's trying not to get caught up in complimenting his daughter only on her physical appearance. "Something I'm actively working on as a father is reinforcing the idea and belief that my daughter is much more than the way she looks," he says. "You know, I have to catch myself, because my daughter's beautiful. I have to catch myself from complimenting her on just her appearance, because I want to eat her she's so pretty and cute. That's one of the things I know we're talking about. How can we remind ourselves to tell her that she's kind and smart and intelligent and she's human versus she's pretty and all of these things that reinforce the feminine? And that's a challenge."
Emily added that there's another behavior they've both been trying to check when it comes to their toddler. "With our daughter, something we've noticed, I think something that's very common when you have a girl -- if they climb on stuff and they do some wild things, you're tend to be [like], 'Oh my god, be careful, don't do that,' and you tend to be watching them more than you do with boys. You kinda let boys do their thing. We're really trying to watch ourselves there, because our daughter is very adventurous, she's kind of wild, she likes to climb and run and do things. So, [it's about] letting her do those things and standing by to make sure she's safe, but not constantly going, 'Be careful, don't hurt yourself.'"
Joking that their little girl got that adventurous spirit from her daddy, Justin explained, "We said ['be careful'] so much so that she actually would say it back to us! She'd do something, and then be like, 'Be careful!'" to which Emily agreed and noted, "We have to let her explore that side of herself and do something she's never tried before without thinking, 'I must be careful, I must downsize myself.'"
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Though these are amazing conversations that go on in the Baldoni household, the challenges of being a parent and grappling with gender stereotypes will also be covered on Man Enough. "We're going to be doing a fatherhood episode of Man Enough in 2018 and bring dads together," Justin shared. "It's a really interesting conversation. It's not a conversation men generally talk about. And dads are really important, and there's a lot of really good dads that exist, and there are a lot of young boys who are going to grow up without fathers who have a chance to become good dads and not repeat what's happened to them. So, we hope to help."
You can catch the first two episodes of Man Enough starting today, Thursday, December 14 at 12:30 p.m. PT / 3:30 p.m. ET at WeAreManEnough.com.