Ione Skye solidified her role as teen idol when she played Diane Court in “Say Anything…” alongside John Cusack in 1989. Since then, Ione’s kept herself busy with acting, including a guest stint on “Arrested Development,” as well as becoming a mother of two. She recently added “author” to her list of many titles with the release of her children’s book, “My Yiddish Vacation,” an adorable picture book that introduces kids to the wonderful world of Yiddish. We chatted with Ione about her own Yiddish-speaking grandparents, her family’s unique mix of tradition, and of course, boom boxes.
We’re also giving away three copies of Ione’s book, “My Yiddish Vacation,” to three lucky readers. To enter the giveaway, scroll down to the bottom of this post.
1. We immediately fell in love with the story, the characters, and the language in your children’s book, “My Yiddish Vacation.” What was your inspiration?
The inspiration for the book comes from my love of Yiddish expressions and the interest I have in my past. I have been compelled since childhood to write. My relationship with my older brother, who Sammy is based on, has always been complex, loving, and deep. The same goes for my relationship to my grandparents, who are also in the book.
2. The dialogue is so familiar to anyone with Yiddish-speaking grandparents. How much of it is autobiographical?
Much of it is autobiographical. Almost all the little situations and dynamics between my family and the girl in the story are from my life. A few are made up.
My kids are 12 and 4. They both love the book. I think there are things the little one can relate to, like trying to bring all your stuffed animals in your suitcase. And my 12-year-old can relate to others scenarios, like listening to the old ladies talk and wondering if it’s gossip, and wondering why her brother wants to hang out with older kids at the local 7/11.
4. It’s been 25 years since your iconic role as Diane Court in “Say Anything…”Do you still get a lot of people pretending to hold up a boom box and play “In Your Eyes” when they spot you?
Recently I went to a screening of “Say Anything…”–the event’s hosts organized a dozen men dressed in trench coats playing the song to me on their boom boxes. I was moved by that!
5. You’ve been a movie star, a children’s book author, and a mom. Which one is the hardest?
I’d say the hardest is being a mom. Not worrying so much about my kids’ well being is my challenge. What I confront in my career is beautiful because there, too, I have to face doubts and navigate all the egos. Challenges include putting myself out there creatively. Giving and facing rejection. My career helps me not hide behind parenting. I could have a tendency to not go for my dreams at times.
6. You come from a Jewish family, however you and your husband, Ben Lee, had a Hindu wedding ceremony, and we’ve also read that you practice Buddhism. Are you raising your kids with any one particular religion, or do you provide them with a variety of traditions to follow?
We don’t practice Buddhism exactly. My daughter is having a bat mitzvah. It’s been a wonderful experience. These days, rabbis seem to go quite deep into the meanings of the Torah portion and it’s rich and full. At the time of our wedding Ben had an Indian teacher. He no longer does. We were never Hindu but the wedding customs are symbolic of certain things. That was nice to have in a ceremony. My grandfather was Orthodox growing up but raised my mother more culturally Jewish. My grandparents were put off by religion because of wars and the way some religions are interpreted. I like the inner meanings of religion. I like a more gnostic approach. A mystical and therapeutic approach. But I am very interested in a connection to God.
I am always trying to pass this on to the kids in a way that doesn’t push my ideas onto them.
7. We love that the blurb on the back of the book is from Jason Alexander. So tell us: Are all Jewish celebrities secretly BFFs?
I like having Jewishness in common, but I also love diversity. To be honest I’m very interested in people with different backgrounds in general.
8. Finally, since we are Kveller and we know you love Yiddish, we have to ask, what makes you kvell?
I’m kvelling over this book coming out! It was a childhood dream and I put it in the back of my mind when I started acting. Now I’m taking a stab at the young adult genre.
We’ve got three copies of Ione’s book “My Yiddish Vacation” to give away to three random winners. To enter the giveaway, fill out the form below and we’ll choose the winners next Monday, September 22nd.