Kara Tointon says coronavirus has delayed her wedding to fiancé Marius Jenson as she reveals plans to expand family
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As we catch up with Kara Tointon over Zoom, it’s clear she’s the queen of multi-tasking. The actress expertly balances mum duties, keeping a close eye on 19 month old son Frey while we chat.
Former Strictly Come Dancing champion Kara’s juggling skills have come in rather handy of late, as she and her fiancé, Marius Jensen, have been busy developing their storytelling app, Tell. They have also just announced their partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital, and to celebrate, some of Kara’s “beautifully voiced” friends – including Joe Thomas and Rupert Everett – will narrate chapters of Peter Pan on the app.
The couple are hoping to tie the knot in Norway, although the current climate has left plans up in the air. Of course, Kara’s sister, and fellow Mr Selfridge star Hannah, will be on bridesmaid duties, and Kara smiles, “she’ll probably do my make-up, too!”
The siblings, who sadly lost their mum Carol in March of last year, are incredibly close, and Kara tells us she’d love a brother or sister for Frey. “I am so close to my sister, I want Frey to have that as well,” she says.
Here, Kara, 36, tells us why she and Marius make a good team and how they are raising their son to be bilingual…
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Lockdown can be tough on relationships. How have you and Marius found working on the app and living together?
I think everyone has had their moments in lockdown [laughs]! We get on really well and actually we work well together, too.
I’m really creative and he’s really good at overseeing everything, so we are a good team. But obviously in lockdown, you’d have a row and didn’t know where the exit point was, so you actually had to just work it out.
I think it taught us just to let things go a bit more because we couldn’t be bothered to row.
Was the idea for Tell inspired by lockdown at all?
We actually came up with it over a year ago. We were launching just as lockdown happened and we worried that it looked like it was a coronavirus app, but then we realised it was actually the perfect thing for people to enjoy at that time. The idea is that you create circles with family or friends and within that, children can request a story that they’d like a loved one to record for them. We’ve had wonderful feedback, especially from grandparents because it has been a really difficult time for them. It’s been a great tool to use.
Have you used it with Frey?
Yes. Marius is Norwegian, so we have half our family living overseas. When we had Frey, 19 months ago, we were starting to think about family connections and how we were going to keep them involved. Marius’s grandfather has this beautiful, really silky Anthony Hopkins voice, so we said we must get him to record a fairy tale for Frey in Norwegian. Then Marius said, “why don’t we create an app that does just that?”
In celebration of your partnership with Great Ormond Street Hospital, you’ve uploaded Peter Pan to the app. But would you have been keen to stay young forever like he does or do you embrace ageing?
If you had asked me in my twenties, I think I would have said, “Yes, let’s stop here!” But actually, you broaden your mind and things that seemed so important then seem very trivial now. I am really loving getting older, actually, which is something I never thought I’d say.
Has motherhood been a part of that?
Yeah, I think becoming a mum changes you forever. I have just loved every minute of it. He’s great. I can imagine for most parents it must have been really stressful with homeschooling, but because he’s at the age where he has been blissfully unaware, he’s been great. It’s been really nice lately, just having so much time with him. There’s no words yet but he’s very active. We think he’ll be a bit slower because he’s learning both languages. Marius speaks to him solely in Norwegian. I think it’s such a gift for him to have that.
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Can you speak any Norwegian?
No [laughs]. Frey loves Frozen, so we’ve started watching that in Norwegian and because I know all the words in English, it’s a good way of helping me learn.
Has the pandemic affected wedding plans?
It’s going to happen, but probably not this year now. We’re both quite last minute people and don’t overthink these things. So I think it will probably be a quick “let’s just do it” moment. I think it will be in Norway. A lot of my family and friends have never been there so it’ll be a nice little trip for them all.
Would your sister Hannah be a bridesmaid?
Absolutely, yes. She’ll probably be doing my make-up, too!
Would you like to work together again?
Yeah. We’re both taking a little bit of time out at the moment. She’s really focused on writing and I am obviously working on Tell. It’s been nice to have a bit of a moment out and enjoy Frey. I’m sure we would love to work together in the future. It’s fun and we didn’t get to do much together on Mr Selfridge because all our scenes were separate.
Would you like a brother or sister for Frey?
I would really love to have more. Because I am so close to my sister, I want Frey to have that as well. So we’ve got to fit that in somewhere! I think this year we have all put into perspective what’s important to us. I have started so many things, like meditating and some counselling.
I lost my mum just after I had Frey and I didn’t do some of the things I probably needed to do, so this has been a good time to do that.
Have you found meditation helpful?
I have only been doing it a little while but it’s really helping. I’m one of those whose mind does 101 things. I’m never really just still, so this forces you to do that, twice a day, for 25 minutes. When you finish, you feel very energised. It just helps to still your mind and centre you a bit.
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Are there any writing or acting projects you’d love to tackle in the near future?
There are so many things I’d love to do, but I’m enjoying focusing on the app because I think, since losing my mum, I haven’t got it in me to be performing as much. So I think it’s doing me some good to have some time out of that. I’m sure I’ll come back to that when I’m ready, it might just take a little while. There’s lots I’d love to do and I love what I do. Auditions are like a constant job interview and it’s that bit that I haven’t got in me at the moment.
Do you get to throw any Strictly shapes these days?
I throw shapes with Frey. He’s my partner here. He’s such a mover, so we dance together a lot. Marius is convinced it comes from him. He loves dancing as well, so between us we’re a dancing family. I’m really glad the show is going to be on this year, it’s part of the build up to Christmas! I love the show so much, so I’ll be tuning in.
Tell, a StoryTelling App for Families is available to download now.
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