If you’ve watched Workin’ Moms, you’re familiar with Juno Rinaldi, one of the stars of the hit Canadian comedy on Netflix. She’s also a writer and producer who gets her most creative ideas when she’s running. A self-described “leaper,” she never hesitates to try new things. Her web series, My Special Guest, began its second season this week.
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Juno grew up in British Columbia, Canada, in a “really rural environment,” where she hiked, canoed, and explored the outdoors.That upbringing led her to turn to running for her mental health as an adult. “I think when you’re active as a child, it’s part of your growth as a human into adulthood; it’s just in your DNA. It’s in your system,” she says. “Any time I would feel stuck or something, I would go to the Y or take a bike ride or try and do a little jog and I just really did that my whole life.”
When she suffered from postpartum depression after the birth of her second child, her husband suggested that she get outside and go for a walk. That morphed into a run, which was when she really recognized the correlation between physical activity and mental health. “I remember I would come home and just be that much more present, that much clearer, that much more like this activity is a direct link to feeling more like myself.”
Now she’s training for a half marathon. “I’m 45, never done anything like this before, never done any racing, and I just kind of got it into my head, ‘Wouldn’t this be an interesting goal?’” As an actor, she observes, “Our lives are very up and down. It’s feast or famine, really. So there’s times when there’s tons of work, there’s times when there’s no work, there’s times when you’re questioning your whole existence as a person, because you’re like, ‘Why did I decide to do this?’ And there’s times where you’re like, ‘I’m too old, I can’t do anything else.’ Training for the race “is my anchor to sort of keep me going and a goal, and it’s been unbelievably helpful.”
Forming connections to the running community has also been helpful. Knowing that she ran, a friend, a member of the band Elliott Brood, told her, “I’ve got this friend who’s got this really cool clothing line; maybe you guys want to talk.” So they did. “I started chatting with this fellow named Pete Meades, and he’s got this beautiful clothing line called Inherit the Earth, which is running gear, and we started talking about running and his philosophy really aligned with mine.”
Peter and his wife, Heidi, are both ultrarunners, and Heidi has become Juno’s coach. “She’s the most positive, kindest, supportive person and without them, I don’t think I would have been able to do this,” Juno says. “First of all, I wouldn’t have known what to do. I didn’t realize there’s all these facets, like a long run or a quick run or strength training. So it’s been a real education and in my head and my heart, I really haven’t felt better than doing this.”
Juno also discovered the Running for Real podcast, and especially Together Runs. She was getting tired of the music that she was listening to when she ran, and needed “some inspiration.” She typed “running podcast” into the search bar and Running for Real came up. “I liked the title because of that word, ‘real’; I just gravitated towards that because of the authenticity of the title. A lot of the people, I don’t know, but then I was like, ‘Oh, the Together Run, what’s this?’ And then one day I was like, ‘Okay, I’ll just try it.’ And I just loved it. I loved the connectedness of it. I loved how you begin the run. I just loved how it felt. I could feel this community of people that I’ve never seen, don’t know, experiencing it at the same time, but in a different time. It was a very cool experience.”
As much as she loves being part of the running community, Juno prefers to run alone. “There’s part of me that gets the idea of being in a running group or running with people for sure, but I also just really like the solitary thing.”
That time alone, she says, is “when I get the best ideas and solve creative problems.” She did five seasons of Workin’ Moms, but after that, “I was really excited to move into writing and producing and sort of see where that journey would take me. Acting, that’s definitely my love and my drug of choice. But I had a whole bunch of things in my head about what I wanted to produce and do and I wanted to take that opportunity to try and see if I could get some of those things off the ground.”
“I’m one of these kinds of people who, if I’ve got it in front of my face and I want to do it and it’s hard, I leap. I’m a leaper; I’m a Band-Aid ripper. I’m going to go for it. There’s that whole thing of like, take a leap of faith, right? And the quote that I love so much is, ‘Fortune favors the bold.’ Like, go for it. We’ve got one kick at this. Just try it. Yes, you may fail. Who cares?”
Acting is “basically the business of rejection,” Juno says. But, she emphasizes, “It’s really about coming back to what is it for you and how do you express it for yourself? Your success and your feeling of worth is not contingent on someone else saying you’re okay. And there really is something about if you start just putting the energy into that zone, whatever it is, whether it’s starting a run, whether it’s writing a screenplay, whether it’s writing a poem or a journal entry or anything creative. There is something that happens within, not to sound too woo-woo, but within the universe that starts to pull the energy to help you and give you a little wind at your back.”
Juno’s latest leaps of faith are a dramatic short, Christina, and the second season of her web series, My Special Guest, written by herself, her husband, Mike Rinaldi, and her best friend (and costar) Jenny Young. “It’s humor, it’s touching, and it’s my kind of jokes,” she says, “It’s Two Ferns meets Ellen meets Jimmy Kimmel.”
Photo credit: Heather MacEachern-Tarasick, HRM Photography
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“Thank you” to Juno. We look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.