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‘I started my career and had to change and grow when I had children’

It’s not often that a television procedural delves into the personal lives of its characters, especially when it’s a police drama that typically devotes its episodes to solving the crimes of the week. CBSs FBIthe hourlong Dick Wolf drama set around an elite team of FBI agents in New York City aims to do just that.

The past several episodes FBI team leader Special Agent Maggie Bell (Missy Peregrym) began exploring the idea of ​​motherhood and weighing whether in vitro fertilization (IVF) was the right decision. Those conversations continued when longtime friend and colleague, Special Agent Jessica Blake (Rookie Blue‘s Charlotte Sullivan), asked Maggie to become the temporary guardian of her young daughter, Ella (Rose Decker), after she was diagnosed with an aneurysm. Shortly afterwards, Jessica died due to complications from the surgery, leaving Ella without a mother and Maggie her only caregiver.

“It’s nice to see a different side of Maggie when it comes to wanting a family,” Peregrym told Yahoo Entertainment about her character’s arc. “Things haven’t gone the way she planned, but she’s showing up to do the right thing.”

She continued: “She is ready to add to her personal life after taking up so much space following her husband’s death. She is at an age and at a time in her life where she feels the desire for deeper connections outside of work.”

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Charlotte Sullivan and Missy Peregrym, both in black.

Charlotte Sullivan as Jessica Blake and Peregrym as Bell. (Bennett Raglin/CBS via Getty Images)

On Tuesday’s episode, a grieving Maggie deals with the aftermath of her friend’s sudden death by distracting herself with the team’s latest case: a deadly bombing. It is uncharted territory for the special agent, who is also struggling with the question of how to raise Ella.

“Maggie struggles to navigate her new role with Ella, while also grieving for one of her close friends,” Peregrym said. “She feels helpless to meet Ella’s needs, knowing she will never be able to fulfill her mother’s role, but she also wants to do everything she can.”

The origins of Maggie’s motherhood journey came from Peregrym’s initial conversations with producers last year about “exploring the more motherly side” of her badass character.

“The writers wanted to explore egg freezing, and I pitched the idea about the death of a friend [away] and I was the guardian [of their child]and this is where it landed,” said the actress, 41, who is mom to 4-year-old son Otis and 22-month-old daughter Mela, with husband Tom Oakley.

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As Maggie sought parenting advice from colleagues and friends, she expressed several concerns about becoming a mother – particularly the stress and uncertainty that comes with this role. Combined with the dangers of her FBI job, her insecurities and doubts became much more apparent. That inner struggle is familiar to Peregrym, who channeled her own experiences as a working mother into her approach to authentically portray Maggie’s circumstances.

“I work to provide for my family financially, while I feel like I need to be home to provide emotionally, mentally and physically. It’s a contradictory position to be in, one that I often have to work through,” she said. “I started my career and have had to change and grow as I have had children, and I can easily identify with Maggie in this regard.”

Peregrym continued, “Maggie has given her life to her job, to protecting others, and it is a dangerous job. Instinctively, she will face disaster to help others flee from it. But now that she is with Ella, she can’t live like this anymore. She needs to be able to come home to meet the deeper needs of quality time and connection.

The actress took two days of leave FBI to bear her children – the the first in spring 2020 and the second in fall 2022. She credited the production for making her feel “supported by time” and allowing her to bring her babies to work so she could breastfeed.

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“The cast and crew were so supportive to me, especially to other parents who understood the difficult balance,” Peregrym said. “I will say there is a lot of laughter sharing stories of who has slept less and comparing who is having a harder time at the time!”

Although the storyline is still ongoing, Peregrym believes that Maggie is seriously entertaining the idea of ​​making her temporary custody more permanent. That alone brings new challenges as “legal complications will arise,” she said. “She loves Ella and wants to honor Jessica by watching over her. The hesitation is that she doesn’t want to get hurt and put Ella through the trauma of losing another guardian.

Formalizing Maggie and Ella’s relationship, if that’s the way to go FBI going down would open the door creatively, Peregrym said.

“It could be a very interesting storyline, relatable to many women who care for children while also working. But more than that, the women on the force who do exactly what Maggie does. I would like to explore that further,” she said.

FBI airs Tuesdays at 8pm ET on CBS.

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