Growing up, we knew JoAnna Garcia Swisher as Sam, a member of “The Midnight Society” (you know, Nickelodeon’s Are You Afraid of the Dark?), a group we wish we could have been part of in the ‘90s. And then she came back into our lives as the often self-centered, oldest daughter Cheyenne on Reba.
Now, Garcia Swisher is a mom herself, to two beautiful little girls, whom she shares with husband Nick Swisher. The Cuban American actress recently teamed up with Clorox to help fellow mamas make their cleaning routines feel a lot less daunting — because we all know what that’s like when there are munchkins running around. We caught up with the Once Upon a Time star to discuss how she keeps a tidy home with two young girls, how she infuses her Cuban heritage into her home décor, her character on Kevin (Probably) Saves the World, and more.
In many Latino households, you grab a mop with the music blasting on Saturday morning, what really gets you get in the mood to clean and what’s your routine like?
That’s so true, by the way. That literally brought me back to childhood. Most of my time spent cleaning is when the girls are down and I can take a minute. I pour myself a glass of wine and tackle one of the many projects that build up – putting the toys away, disinfecting the toys, [cleaning] rogue paint that got on the wall. It clears my head and allows me to get a good night’s rest and know that when we wake up in the morning, we will have a clean home to mess up again.
Do you have any tips for keeping your space as neat as possible when you have kids? We all know it’s not the easiest task!
We got really organized and I think that now that everything has a place – getting it back into its place keeps me sane. I’m really excited about the Clorox Clean Alexa Skill that’s coming out soon. I’ve had a sneak peek of the skill before it goes live and it gives me an opportunity to tick one item off at a time. It gives you an opportunity to feel like you are doing something. Instead of doing a massive deep clean, you can maintain a lot easier. You can just say give me something quick or give me something that takes a little more time. So instead of doing a massive cleaning, you can wrap your head around it more easily. I do a lot of my cleaning in the evenings – after a long day, you are tired and trying to catch up and I am pretty spent.
What’s sort of a ritual for when you have guests coming over?
I make sure all of the guest bathrooms are clean, candles lit, and those things are stocked. I tidy up the kitchen, always make the bed in the master bedroom (not that I expect people to go in there), but just in case they do it makes me feel better. And, I always make sure the bar is stocked.
I read that you have an adults-only mini fridge in your home — how did that come about and what would we find in there?
In the mini-fridge, you’d find exactly what you imagine – different temperatures for different kinds of wine. There is always champagne. Sometimes a rogue beer gets in there – I’m not a big beer drinker – but I let it live in there because the beer doesn’t want to be with the juice boxes. I also have a kid-friendly mini fridge on the opposite end of the island with juice boxes, water bottles and kid’s drinks.
Tell me a bit about your home decor. Are there any touches of your heritage in there?
Yes, my home décor is probably one of the most important things in my life. I am going to school for interior design, so it’s a passion of mine. My home in Florida has more of my Cuban heritage – I was raised in a colorful home. Our house is less traditional in that sense. It’s very warm and inviting and reminds me of the house I was raised in. Our home in California is more California contemporary.
You played Ariel in Once Upon a Time, what was that experience like for you? Ariel was actually my favorite as a child.
Ariel is probably one of my favorite roles I have ever taken. I am a huge Disney fan and I love Once Upon a Time. When I got the opportunity to play such an iconic princess, I was so excited, I couldn’t even explain it. I have street cred with all of the littles around me and I work it whenever I can. When my daughter sees the animated Ariel, she says, “Look it’s you.” When they ask me to come back, I always make time for it. Eddie and Adam who created the show are two of my favorite people ever and I love everyone that does it and it’s something that I love being part of.
You play Amy Cabrera in Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. What have you enjoyed most about this role? And how is it different than those in the past?
I have never played a scientist, engineer or anything of the sort. I love that I get an opportunity to explore an intellectual character. She is highly skilled on so many levels. She is also quite handy with a toolbox and I have never felt myself to be that on a personal level. I learned how to change a tire, brake pads and different parts of a car. I can’t say I always look so cool doing it, but I know how to do it. She is a fiercely loyal and loving sister and getting the chance to work with Jason Ritter has been one of the greater joys of my career.