Actress Joelle Carter on 'Justified' and Adopting a Baby Girl

Filed under: Celeb Parents, Celeb News & Interviews

Joelle Carter

Joelle Carter stars on "Justified." Credit: ©Howard Wise/

A former model, Joelle Carter has been turning heads for years, nabbing small roles in big films like "High Fidelity" and "American Pie 2."

Now, Carter, 38, stars as Ava Crowder in the critically-acclaimed FX series "Justified," which has been picked up for a third season.

Off screen, Carter and her husband, Andy Bates, recently adopted a baby girl they named Luna Rose.

When ParentDish caught up with the actress recently in New York, she couldn't stop gushing about motherhood and her new daughter.

ParentDish: Lots of amazing things are happening for you.
Joelle Carter: Yes, thank you.

PD: First up, motherhood.
JC: Yes, we just adopted my baby girl from birth, and she is now 8 1/2 months old and she is the sunshine of our lives. I mean, it is a lot of work and you have to reschedule yourself, but it is all worth it.

PD: What made you decide to adopt?
JC: We hadn't been able to get pregnant and they couldn't find a reason why. Since there was a time line when we wanted to start a family, for us, we decided to look into adoption. We found an agency that dealt with open adoption and we liked the idea that she would have a potential relationship with her birth family and not have all of those questions that can come with adoption.

PD: That sounds so brave.
JC: Even if you didn't tell them, I think their intuition would tell them something is off. I don't want my child to grow up and, at 16 or 17, find out they were adopted and ask, why was this kept from me? It is not a bad thing -- in fact, it is an amazing thing.

PD: What would you tell your daughter if she asks you why she was put up for adoption?
JC: There was this young girl who couldn't keep you, found us and loves you enough to find you the people she felt secure with. Plus, we really wanted you.

PD: The name Luna sounds so Hollywood.
JC: We were having a hard time agreeing on a name and one day a friend of mine and I were searching on the Internet and saw it. When my husband was coming up the stairs I said, "Luna," and he said, "I love it." As for Rose, it represents my parents.

PD: Where is Luna from?
JC: We stayed here and adopted in the United States because a lot of children here needed love.

PD: How would you describe the adoption process?
JC: You could potentially get matched, or maybe you bond with the birth mother. It is a lot like dating until you both decide there is a match. Then, there is always the risk the birth mother could change her mind. It is a very emotionally invested process, but, for us, we couldn't have found a better match.

PD: What is Luna like?
JC: She has our low-keyness. I mean, she is such a great little baby. She sleeps well, eats well and is always happy. We got blessed.

PD: How has the transition been from having no responsibility to having a tremendous amount of responsibility?
JC: It is hard to get used to. All of a sudden, you are not free to do what you want to do. It is a constant little job and, in the end, you may be exhausted, but then you see that smile and you realize it was all worth it.

PD: What was the best and worst advice you received on becoming a mom?
JC: Everyone has two cents, but the best advice was from my mother-in-law. She said trust your instincts. The worst advice we got was, "She might need a good spanking," but I won't say who said that one.

PD: Would you adopt again?
JC: Yeah, I hope so. We might wait until she is diaper-free so my husband doesn't remember how hard it was when she was an infant. (Laughs.)

PD: What lessons do you hope to teach Luna?
JC: To be good to yourself and create for the world. Feed your heart, be kind and be good to others.

PD: Your character, Ava Crowder, on "Justified" is both spontaneous and unpredictable.
JC: Yeah, that is pretty good. What I love about Ava is she has so many colors. She is sensitive, a survivor and a southerner. She is not only sexy, but there is a lot of Ava that has not been tapped and I think that is great because there is so much potential to grow her. She has the world in front of her because of her past relationship, but I know she will figure it out.

PD: Reality TV has become so popular. Why do you think a scripted series, like "Justified," is such a hit with viewers and critics?
JC: I think it is partially the writing and partially the cast. I also think it is a unique show in the fact that the flavor of it takes place in Kentucky. "Justified" has characters you can get involved with, and it has a network that stands behind it.

PD: Do you feel taking on a role like Ava is risky?
JC: Oh, yeah. She really uses her sexually and she wears her heart on her sleeve. She is also from a region where you learn to stand up for yourself and, because of that, I believe it is my duty to play her strength. I was promised good stuff for Ava if we made it to season number three, so I am holding them to it (laughs).

PD: You're also active with the St. Baldrick's Foundation. Tell me about that.
JC: I am impressed with how this organization works and I wanted to get involved with a children's charity. The first event I went to was a shaving event at a bar. When I got there, and I got involved with the "Let's Conquer" campaign they told me how every 3 ½-minutes a child is diagnosed with cancer and one out of four children won't survive, and when I heard that I was numb. It is so important to fund the research to help these children potentially survive and the ones that do survive have a better life than they may have right now. It is so rewarding for me to help these children.

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.