Challen Cates: Big Time Rush's #1 mom
You may know Challen Cates as the mom on Nickelodeon’s Big Time Rush. What you may not know is why she loves Betty White, why you’ll never find red Solo cups in her house and the Fabio phrase she wants to turn into a ringtone…
Kat: How’s life, what are you up to?
Challen: Life is good…it’s boiling hot here in California. Big Time Rush got picked up for a 4th season recently!
Kat: That’s exciting!
Challen: I know! Big Time Rush was in Parade Magazine on Sunday, and my husband was like, “Don’t you think this means you’ll get picked up,” and I said, “No. I don’t think it means anything.” And sure enough.
Kat: After the popularity of the show, Big Time Rush actually became a boy band. That’s a pretty cool example of life imitating art. Do you ever think the day will come when the band will focus on just their music?
Challen: Eventually, they will all find their own paths and go their own ways and the show won’t go on forever as much as I would like it to. At some point one might be a movie star, two might be TV stars, and one might be a rock star.
Kat: Well, everyone needs a stage mom, right? So maybe you could just transition into that.
Kat: You have a boy and girl in real life and a boy and girl on Big Time Rush. Do you think your role as the mother of a teenage boy is preparing you for having a teenage boy?
Challen: Yes, definitely. I have definitely learned about what it is like to be a mother of teenage boys from the show, because I had no idea. It’s been great hanging out with kids that are older and it’s also been great being given this character who is so smart about what her kids need and want.
Kat: So you grew up on a farm and your parents had a winery. What’s your favorite rule of thumb when it comes to either serving or selecting wine?
Challen: I grew up on a farm, but my parents didn’t start the winery until 1997. I’m just trying to think how many different ways I can answer this question. My favorite wine is Pinot Noir, which happens to be our main focus at the winery. It’s a wine that’s very drinkable — you can have it without food and when you have it with food it makes it that much more amazing. It goes with just about everything. I’m also a stickler for serving wine in the proper wine glass.
Kat: Oh really?
Challen: Yeah, I think it makes a huge difference. If you have the right type of glass for the type of wine that you’re pouring, and that it is a real quality glass as well. You just can’t drink wine out of a plastic cup.
Kat: No red Solo cups at your house?
Challen: No, no, no!
Kat: You've worked with some pretty amazing people. I want to give you three names, and ask you to give us your takeaway impression, or tell us something that may surprise us about these folks. Ready?
Kat: How about Betty White?
Challen: Oh! I love her!
Kat: Is she as awesome as she seems?
Challen: She is so awesome and so smart and sweet and caring and giving.
Kat: Did you just want to take her home? I get that impression about her. That you just want to put her in the passenger seat of your car, buckle her in and take her home.
Challen: Definitely. One of the things I love about her that I got from working with her is she loves what she does and she has so much fun doing what she does. That drives her and that’s something I really admire about her. It inspires me to keep doing what I’m doing when I’m her age.
Kat: How about Gary Sinese?
Challen: (Laughs) It’s so funny you ask me about him. I love him, I think he’s a fantastic actor, but in all my scenes with him I was dead, so I kept trying to peek up at him through my dead eyes.
Kat: So he’s a great guy to have around when you’re dead? Is that what you’re saying?
Challen: Well, I died multiple ways and one of those ways was drowning. It was so cold on the stage and it was freezing and I was shaking and couldn’t get warm. Gary could tell and he was like, “Someone has to get her a blanket,” so he was covering me up between takes to keep me warm. He was very sweet and kind.
Kat: Okay, the last one is Fabio.
Challen: Fabio is a really good sport because we made him do some really hilarious things that a lot of other people would have been too embarrassed to do, but he was really gung-ho. He totally did it. One of my favorite things with him was in Big Time Christmas, the boys locked him in a trunk, and when he sees it was them he says, “Oh no! Not the Big Time Rush again!” When I heard that, I thought, “Oh my God. I want that as my ringtone!” That’s the funniest thing I’ve ever heard!
Kat: Your kids are still young but do you think you have any budding actors or musicians in your house?
Challen: Possibly. They both love to sing and dance and they’re both quite theatrical at times too.
Kat: How old are they?
Challen: Three and six.
Kat: Oh yes, that can be a very dramatic time. How many years have you been married?
Kat: What your favorite and least favorite thing about being married?
Challen: My favorite thing about being married is seeing my children through my husband’s eyes and watching him interact with my children. I really can’t think of a least favorite.
Kat: When your kids get married, have you rehearsed your one maternal pearl of matrimonial wisdom?
Challen: Don’t get married until you’re over 30.
Kat: What summer movie are you excited to see (or were excited to see)?
Challen: We went to the premiere of Ted, and I have to say, I loved it. I know I shouldn’t have been laughing at some of the jokes, but I couldn’t help it.
Kat: Anyone you’d like to work with that you haven’t yet?
Challen: There are so many. That’s a hard question. I love the experience of working with different people and learning from different people and watching their style and technique and taking a little bit away from each experience.
Kat: Down the road, when Big Time Rush is all grown up, what do you see yourself doing?
Challen: I see myself moving on to another series or films or going back and doing more theater. When my kids are grown, I want to be able to travel.
Kat: When your kids are little, it’s tough to travel isn’t it?
Challen: It is. We find that we don’t want to take a plane very far. It’s still challenging being on a plane with little kids.
Kat: Yeah, they get a little squirrely and then you’re hyper-sensitive to how the other passengers will react.
Challen: I’m always so worried that everyone around us is hating us.
Kat: Besides Big Time Rush coming back for Season 4, are there any other projects you’re working on right now?
Challen: I am working on a movie, but I can’t talk about it right now.
Kat: So come back and tell us about the movie when you can talk about it.
Challen: I will definitely do that.
Photo credit Jeff Katz Photography