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Anna Jullienne - Baby at last!

Actress Anna Jullienne prepares to take on the mother of all roles.

By Kelly Bertrand

It feels like Anna Jullienne has been a mum forever. Whether it’s because she played a mother on Shortland Street, or is due to her naturally maternal and kind nature she’s not too sure, but since her departure from the soap in 2011, many people assume the actress has a child already.

But now Anna (30) and her husband, commercial property manager James Kermode (30), are expecting their first baby, and she’s thrilled to fill the role she’s played many times before.

“Lots of people think I have a kid, so it’ll be nice to finally say we actually do!” Anna laughs.

“We’re so excited. It’s always something that’s been on the agenda, but it was a case of waiting for the right time. And now it’s almost here.”

With five months of her pregnancy down, and a beautiful baby bump that’s just recently showing, Anna is positively glowing with happiness as she talks about her imminent arrival, and admits being a mum is something she’s always wanted.

“I’ve loved babies and little kids, but as an actress you have to take the work when it comes up,” explains Anna, who started her role as nurse Maia Jefferies on Shortland Street when she was 21.

“But it’s actually worked out perfectly. The decision to get pregnant was a conscious one, it was just the right time for us.”

Anna found out she was expecting just as she began rehearsing for her role as Anne Boleyn for the Auckland Theatre Company, and though she joked before she started that getting pregnant during the show’s run might change the course of history a bit, she managed to get through the month-long programme incident-free.

“I didn’t tell too many people, apart from wardrobe,” Anna says, with a smile. “A couple of men had to manhandle me on stage as well, so they were aware of it too. But I could tell everyone by the time we opened, which was exciting, and I wasn’t quite showing.”

And while the rest of the company were convinced Anna was carrying a little Elizabeth, keeping in line with history, she and James reveal they are in fact having a little man.

“Seeing as Anne Boleyn couldn’t have a boy, everyone was sure it was going to be a girl, but I guess we’ve defied history there.”

As far as James is concerned, he’s excited to see Anna’s belly growing bigger every day, and has taken a proactive approach to preparing for the new arrival in January.

“Babies come with a lot of stuff,” he says, incredulously.

“For such a small thing, there’s a lot of paraphernalia!” agrees Anna.

“But James has found baby shopping more interesting than I thought he would,” she says, as he nods in agreement.

“It’s almost as if man-brain kicks in. A pushchair is like a car. So James is in the middle of the store comparing models, saying, ‘Well, this clicks into this, and this one has this feature, so we should get that one.’ In fact, I think he even used the term ‘retrofit’ at one stage.”

“This is my contribution,” James says. “Baby clothes,less appealing.”

James has also been on hand to help Anna through the morning sickness during her first trimester, and watched on in wonder when Anna’s baby bump suddenly expanded during a holiday in Fiji.

“You could see the belly getting bigger every day,” he says. “It was amazing.”

“Luckily things don’t happen that quickly the whole way through,” Anna adds. “Otherwise you might get a bit frightened! But James has been really supportive of me resting when I’ve felt tired, and hasn’t given me a hard time for not cooking. I think it’s been a good four months!”

Anna starred on stage for her recent role, as Anne boleyn
Anna starred on stage for her recent role, as Anne boleyn

While there have been no crazy cravings as yet, James says Anna is now in possession of the world’s keenest sense of smell.

“Anna would be in the bedroom, I’d open the fridge door for two seconds to get the milk out, and she’d yell, ‘Did you open the fridge? It stinks!’ It was incredible.”

“There was nothing in there that smelled, either,” Anna says, with a laugh. “But I could just smell everything.”

And while Anna, who played lesbian nurse Maia on Shorty for seven years, knows that she’s not the first woman in the world to go through the ups and downs of pregnancy, she says experiencing it herself is the most “surreal and wonderful” feeling.

“I’ve always looked at pregnant women and thought, ‘Wow’,” she says. “There’s just something beautiful about it, you know. But when this thing is taking over your body, it’s like okay, just slow down for one second. I need to get used to this! But it’s really neat.”

Both Anna and James have plenty of help to fall back on when the baby arrives, with Anna admitting that mum Mary will be on speed dial.

“We’re both really close to our families, and we’re lucky that they’re right in Auckland,” James says.

“And we’ve got friends having a baby two weeks before us, and another two weeks after us, so that’s an instant support network.”

Anna is especially close to the women in her family. The Blue Rose star was raised by three generations of females – her late great-grandmother, whom she called Nana; her grandmother, who was nicknamed Bebe; and mum Mary. Younger sister Ella is especially looking forward to become an auntie.

“She is probably the most excited out of everyone,” Anna says. “Ella’s like me, she has always loved babies.”

Anna says she’s not at all worried about the birth itself, despite a word of warning from her mother-in-law.

“James was a whopper, she always tells me,” Anna says. “He’s six foot four, and he was nearly 10 pounds. But I feel good about the birth; we’re having him at Auckland Hospital. It’ll be difficult, but I can do it. It’s something we’re designed to do.”

Anna is well known as nurse Maia Jeffries on Shortland Street
Anna is well known as nurse Maia Jeffries on Shortland Street

And with her stage and TV work quieting down, Anna concedes she’s happy she’s not currently on our screens.

“I think it would be hard going through pregnancy while on air,” she says, thoughtfully.

“Putting on weight hasn’t worried me too much, but I do feel fortunate how it’s panned out work-wise, so I don’t have to hide anything. But New Zealand is pretty good – there’s not huge pressure to look really thin.”

And even though the stunning Anna hardly needs reassurance, James is quick to add that he thinks she has never looked better.

“Anna is just beautiful,”he says.

Photos: Jae Frew • syling Tamzyn Elliot • hair & make-up Maza White • hair & main picture Anna wears Charlotte Devereaux dress from Egg, diva braclets and Mi Piaci boots. James wears shirt and jeans from Just Jeans, Ann wears Helen Cherry dress and belt and Mi Piaci boots. James wears Workship T-shirt and jeans from Just Jeans.

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