Jennie Garth participates in Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories even in L.A. (Albert Michael/startrackphoto.com)
Though Jennie Garth may forever be remembered in the minds of "Beverly Hills, 90210" fans as the iconic series' conniving blonde Kelly Taylor, these days Garth is a grown-up mother of three focused on family, philanthropy, and the adventures ahead. The 39-year-old has started a new life in a small town in Central California, and is adjusting to the transition of being a single mom, having recently announced she and her "Twilight" actor husband Peter Facinelli were divorcing after 11 years of marriage."I've been in the situation for quite some time," Garth says when asked if she had concerns about single motherhood, "so I can handle it. I'm not concerned."
When it came to deciding whether or not to do the reality show called "Jennie Garth: A Little Bit Country, premiering next month on CMT, she turned to her three daughters — 14-year-old Luca, 9-year-old Lola, and 5-year-old Fiona — to help make the decision.
"Peter and I have always been both very protective of our kids and we are in such a protected environment up where we live that they're very safe and we left it up to them: 'If you guys want to do it, great. If you don't want to do it, then you don't have to be a part of it,'" she explains. "It's been a very loose, relaxed sort of situation, and it ultimately just ended up being fun for them. They actually look forward to it now, you know, 'When's the crew coming back?'"
The series, Garth explains, focuses on her journey from desiring a simpler life for her and her girls, to actually creating one. "It's got a good message. I think that it's compelling in that most people want the life that I'm trying to sort of have a break from," she admits. "I mean a lot of people want to break into the industry and be famous and rich and all that, and my goal is to sort of step out of it for a while and have a break from it. I think that it's interesting to see why I want a break and to explore what part of my human side needs that."Garth posed with her daughters and now-ex Peter Facinelli in 2010. (Getty Images)
Of course, once in a while Garth does make an exception and returns to the big city. The day she talked to omg! she was at the Los Angeles Public Library reading to kids at a "Breakfast and a Book" event, part of Cheerios Spoonfuls of Stories program, which focuses on getting books into kids' hands, encourages parents and kids to read together, and has given away millions of books over the last decade. It's one of several non-profits to which Garth dedicates her time.
"You have to think about what is important to you in your life. I think about what is important to me as a woman, as a parent," she says. "After I'm gone, what do I want to be known [for] that I left behind?"
One thing it sounds like the actress doesn't want to be known for is her short-lived stint on the CW's "90210" reboot. During the show's first season, Garth reprised her role as Kelly Taylor, now a high school guidance counselor. "I don't think a lot of it. I sort of helped them spin it off and I wanted it to have another success," Garth says of the series, now in its fourth season. "I have never watched it, even when I was on it, but I don't really spend much time thinking good or bad thoughts of it."
But was being back on the set of the fictional West Beverly High at least kind of fun? Not really. "I didn't really have any preconceived notion of what it was going to be like," Garth adds. "But I would not go as far as to say as I enjoyed my time there. It was kind of weird."
Her link to the original series remains thanks to 10 seasons of reruns, which her 14-year-old recently started watching ("She's totally hooked!" Garth exclaims) and her decades-long friendships with some of her former castmates, including Luke Perry, Brian Austin Green, and Ian Ziering.
"Luke and his son and my daughter Luca and I just had lunch the other day. It was really cool," she says. "There are certain bonds that never go. They're like family."
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