Tell Me More with Kelly Corrigan

S1 E3 | CLIP

Motherly Love

Actress Jennifer Garner speaks with Kelly Corrigan about how her mother’s journey from the rural farm in Oklahoma to West Virginia was a much bigger leap than the one Jennifer made when she moved to New York after college.

AIRED: October 15, 2020 | 0:02:49

- [Kelly] Tell me about your parents.

- My parents are just salt of the earth.

My mom grew up really poor

in Locust Grove, Oklahoma, on a farm.

I said to her, "Mom, does it bother you

when I talk about your poverty as a child,

does that bother you?"

And she said, "I'm never ashamed of growing up poor.

Rather I am amazed by the grace and dignity

that my parents had throughout my childhood."

And I just thought, oh, well, okay.

- Yeah.

- [Jennifer] She was a mom and went back to school

and got her graduate degree when I was little.

And then she taught at West Virginia State.

For a long time she taught kind of remedial reading,

where she had a lot of kids who had traveled through

the public school system in West Virginia

and were in college, but were also illiterate.

- And what's your dad like?

- My dad is, he's so great.

- [Kelly] What's his name?

- Billy Jack.

And he's only just now,

when I was younger I would've just said Bill,

but I feel like the older he gets, the more Texan he really,

I mean, the more it just spills out of him.

He is Billy Jack Garner.

So when I was little, my dad would be,

he could be in South Africa.

And in West Virginia, like I said, no one leaves.

And now realizing that he had to take a connecting flight

from our tiny airport to this tiny airport,

to this, to this.

But he was all the time, he has really traveled the world.

- Like I think of you as a pretty worldly person

in terms of your point of view,

like you're interested in things well beyond yourself.

And I think to have people in your house

who are telling stories about other places

is really valuable that way, you know?

- Oh, for sure.

I think my mom was so poor that it's just unbelievable

that she managed to leave.

As a matter of fact, when I moved to New York after college,

my mom said, "Jennifer, no matter what you do,

it will never be as big of a deal

as it was for me to leave that farm."

She saw, she just wanted to travel.

She babysat for somebody down the road

who had a little bit of money, they had five kids.

She'd get a dollar a day on Saturdays to babysit them

for 12 or 14 hours.

And they had "Life" magazines.

And in "Life" magazine, she saw pictures of other places

and she just wanted to go.

And she found an ad to be a Girl Scout counselor in Maine,

and she applied and got on a bus and went to Maine.

And it was kind of the beginning of my mom's real itch

to see and understand the world.

And now she has been to 50 States and to seven continents.

"Jennifer, I need to get to Antarctica."