Actress Alaina Huffman was popular among science fiction fans at last year's ComicCon in San Diego for her roles on "Stargate Universe," "Smallville" and "Painkiller Jane." Credit: Getty Images
is a mother of three who moonlights as a superhero.
What's her superpower? Her scream. It can shatter solid objects and knock Wonder Woman on her star-spangled behind.
Never fear. She only uses it in the cause of justice. Never on her children. As a mother, she has an even more formidable array of powers: soft tones, kind words and loving embraces.
Huffman, 30, only plays a superhero on TV. She has appeared on four episodes of "Smallville
" as the Black Canary. The show, now in its 10th season, tells the coming-of-age story of Clark Kent before he becomes Superman, and her character, a fellow DC Comics superhero, has shown up from time to time to help dispatch the bad guys.
Huffman has become something of a science fiction icon. Beyond her recurring role on "Smallville," she's also known to fans of the genre as Maureen Bowers, the title character's best friend in the Canadian science fiction series "Painkiller Jane
She is most famous, however, as Lt. Tamara Johansen in the series "Stargate Universe
," now in its second season on the SyFy network. During the first season, Huffman was pregnant with her daughter, Charley-Jane, now 10 months old. The writers helped her continue working by making her character pregnant, as well.
Alaina and John Huffman are also parents to Hanna, 4, and Elijah, 6.
ParentDish spoke with Huffman about balancing her life as a mother, actor and science fiction sex symbol.
ParentDish: You have a varied resume, but your most prominent roles seem to be in the science fiction genre. Was this a choice on your part, or are those the roles that are most available to young female actors these days?
It just happened that way for me, but I like it. I'm building my "geek cred."
PD: Do you like the physical acting often required in playing superheroes like the Black Canary and science fiction characters like Tamara Johansen?
Yes, I am a very active person so the action/strong female roles suit me just fine.
PD: Is it difficult to continue a rigorous acting schedule while you're pregnant? How much did it help that your real-life pregnancy was written into the storyline for your "Stargate" character?
I think I was made to breed (laughs). I have the best pregnancies. All three of my pregnancies and deliveries were amazing. Working while pregnant was fine for me. The "Stargate" producers have dealt with a lot of pregnant women, so they were very sensitive to my situation, and I am grateful for that. I love the way they handled the storyline, and I think it worked. It was a great exploration of what would happen given the circumstance.
PD: How has the need to balance work and motherhood changed your life as an actor and as a human being in general?
Having a family puts everything into perspective for me. I never really had a career without my family, so I don't know life any different. I am very lucky to have been able to build my career while growing my family. It has helped me stay balanced. I enjoy working because I love what I do, but at the end of the day, I have a much harder and much more rewarding job waiting for me at home.
PD: What's it like being a sex symbol in the science fiction and comic book world? A lot of grown men talk about how they had their first celebrity crushes around age 12 on Nichelle Nichols as Lt. Uhura or Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman. How does it feel knowing boys might grow up talking about how they fell in love with Alaina Huffman on "Smallville" or "Stargate"?
Am I a sex symbol? Wow! I never thought of myself that way (laughs). I think I'm blushing.
PD: Following up on the last question, as a mother, what would you tell a 12-year-old son who feels embarrassed and conflicted about feeling attracted to a character on a TV show or in a movie?
I think it's sweet. My son is 6, so we are getting close to that. The thing about crushes on celebrities is that they're fantasies. I want my son to grow up and be a gentleman. The reality of that is most important to us.
PD: Some parents complain that shows like "Smallville" attract children because they deal with superheroes, but have action and/or sexual content more suitable for adults. At what age do you think children should be allowed to watch shows like "Stargate" and "Smallville"? And putting aside the negative, what are the valuable lessons such shows have to teach?
I completely understand where those concerned parents are coming from. I think it is a beautiful thing to be concerned about what your child sees and hears. That said, these shows are for entertainment.
I genuinely believe that values are best taught in the home by loving and patient parents. No matter what my child sees or hears, I want them to have a deep understand of what is right, wrong, inappropriate and acceptable.
I want my children to grow up with a thirst for doing what is right. I want my children to have a strong distaste for what is wrong. And it just so happens that those are messages and values that can be found in my favorite superheroes. I believe that you can learn from a person's good characteristics as well as their faults.
PD: As an actor, you are obviously in the business of professional make-believe and must have a rich and wonderful imagination. Make-believe and imagination are so important to young children. What advice do you have for parents in nurturing those qualities?
I am a supportive parent. My husband is, also. We pay close attention to what our children are interested in. My son absolutely loves school. My oldest daughter is incredibly athletic. It is too early to tell what my youngest daughter is all about, but we will be paying close attention. Regardless they will be loved and supported. We will encourage them to imagine greater.
PD: What were your favorite stories growing up? What stories do you read to your own children?
I loved reading the Chronicles of Narnia. "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was my favorite. My dad use to read my sister and me "Black Beauty." My favorite movie growing up was "Annie." We would rent it every weekend. My favorite part was when we went to the movies and saw "Camille." I thought Gretta Garbo was the most glamorous thing ever.
I believe that's when I fell in love with acting. Oh, the drama!