A Voice for the Modern Mom
by Laura Denton-McHenry / Photography by Richard Hume
The first thing you notice when you meet Brooke Burke might be her knock-out bod or maybe her devastating dark eyes. Or it could be…her dimples. As the face of Dancing With the Stars, there’s much to admire about her. But what is most disarming and endearing is her adorable smile encased in a pair of dimples that just make you want to, well, smile. But let the record show that there’s far more to this dancing queen than meets the eye.
Brooke welcomes us into her lovely Malibu home wearing sweats and flipflops with her hair in a ponytail. (Wait…she doesn’t walk around her house in sequins and heels?) Her youngest children, Rain (3 ½) and Shaya (2), climb and cling onto her, painting the picture is that Brooke isn’t that different than most working moms of four. Sure, she gets to wear fabulous gowns to work, but really, she performs the same juggling act many women do.
Very quickly the conversation turns to children and Brooke lights up. Family is her passion. It is what fills and completes her. Engaged to actor/singer David Charvet, the two raise three girls and a boy: Neriah (10), Sierra (8), Rain, and Shaya; or as Brooke says, “We raise each other. As much as they are learning from me, I am learning from them.”
Being part of a big family is something Brooke knows much about. The oldest of nine children, she grew up in Tuscson, Arizona. A superstar model and celebrity host were not on her list of things she wanted to be when she grew up. What she really wanted to be was an auto mechanic. Yes. An auto mechanic. “I was a total tomboy growing up – definitely not a girlie girl,” Brooke says. “I hung out with my step-dad and worked on cars and watched a lot of football with him and had no idea I’d end up here dressed like a princess.”
Brooke has come a long way from tinkering under the hood. Not only is she the new host of number one show on television, she also took home the Mirror Ball Trophy as the winner of season seven of Dancing With the Stars. That feat is one of her proudest accomplishments. “I know it’s a fun TV show, but we all worked really hard in the competition. It was challenging on every level. It was blood, sweat and tears. To win was not in my plan – I really hoped to just stick around for a few weeks. But I stepped out of my comfort zone. I found the courage to be fearless and try something I never did before. I think it can send a message to other moms out there. You don’t have to give up something that’s important to you once you have children. You can still find ways to set goals and reach them.”
What Brooke is most passionate about isn’t modeling or hosting television shows. She really, really loves being a mom. She loves being at home more than anywhere else and her most favorite moments are those with her family. Backyard barbeques, pool days and family dinners are cherished. “I always knew I wanted a big family and David and I committed to find a way to make it work. We’re both really hands-on. If he’s working, then I’m at home and vice-versa. We make sure that we are there for our kids no matter what. My kids are my priority so I have to pick and choose the projects I take on. It just works. It’s not easy, but in a beautiful way, it works.”
Modernmom.com is an online magazine Brooke created with her partner Lisa Rosenblat for moms to connect with other moms. “Raising a family is a learning experience. It’s so important to be part of a trusted community of mothers where you can go to get advice. We learn so much from each other. If you want to know something, you ask your girlfriends, right? Well, this is a space for that.”
The website offers input from various writers as well as a daily blog from Brooke. “I’m really out there about who I am. I share the challenges I’m facing and the victories I’ve had. Raising a family is hard. I learn from other women every day, and hopefully someone can learn from Modern Mom. We want moms to feel celebrated and appreciated and encouraged to reach for their dreams, whatever they may be.
“I’m devoted to my kids, but I’ve accomplished more things in my career as a mother than I did before I had my children. Trying something new like Dancing With the Stars at that stage of my life was a big stretch. I hope mothers can do that more. Without sacrificing the priority of the family, mothers need to do something that accomplishes the things important to them as women. So often women get pushed behind the scenes once they have children, but we have to remember not to lose who we are.”
In addition to hosting and blogging, Brooke is working on her first book. The Naked Mom will release Spring 2011 and centers around Brooke’s views on motherhood, career, achieving goals and finding the balance to make it all work.
Does this woman ever sleep? When asked how she manages the day-to-day plate-spinning of her life, Brooke says, “As a woman and a mother, you just find a way to make it happen. No matter what everybody needs from you, you find an endless supply of whatever it takes.”
As Rain sits in her lap, Brooke muses, “My kids are my priority. I’m so fortunate that my career fits into my family’s life. I’m incredibly blessed.”
Credits: Stylist: Katie Maco & Lindsey Steede Hair: Steven Lake Makeup: Jetty Stutzman