One thing that I've enjoyed about Little Women: LA is finding out more about the diverse backgrounds of the cast, who all ended up in Los Angeles in order to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. Otherwise, they couldn't be more different. For example, Terra Jole's background growing up in Texas could not have less in common with Elena Gant's childhood in Russia — but they've still recently become best friends, and have similar experience working as impersonators of Britney Spears and other celebrities.
Having a child of her own has made Terra think about what kind of upbringing she had and what she wants for her kid with boyfriend Joe Gnoffo. Obviously this baby is going to grow up with a lot more scrutiny and fame than she did, even if she and Joe decide to keep their parenting off-screen or choose to leave the show after the baby is born (I know they've got to take care of their child, but I hope it's possible to do without quitting the show — they always bring the drama!).
On the Jan. 28 episode of Little Women: LA, we'll get to meet Terra's adoptive brother, Bourn, who's also a little person. Actually, the entire rest of Terra's family is average height, so she and Bourn were the only little people one another even knew growing up, which likely contributed to their close bond.
Terra is a little distant from her family. She moved from Texas to New York to California — basically anywhere that she could pursue the entertainment industry, which is pretty far from her hometown of San Antonio. And she's toured all over the nation. So she hasn't stayed close to home at all, especially since her extended family hails from Michigan, which is equally far from the coast. In a blog post from 2012, Terra describes meeting up with her estranged cousins after almost 20 years without seeing them, and a little bit about how her family, the Odmarks (though she goes by Jole professionally), and how she spent time in Michigan during summers growing up.
"When we were children we would always spend our summers in Charlevoix, MI where our grandparents resided... Everything is green and smells like Christmas pine in the middle of the summer. Lake Michigan runs along its side, boats floating through the city, which you can see at our grandfathers Pavilion. Not just any pavilion, The Clarence Odmark Performance Pavilion."
Their own pavilion?! That makes my summers going down the shore look pretty flimsy. Terra writes that she comes from a "musical" family, and that her talents were encouraged and inherited from her relatives. By the way, her cousin, Jake Odmark? He's in the Broadway cast of Kinky Boots. So she's not exaggerating.
"Our entire Odmark family has passed on the music gene. Both of our grandparents were heavily involved in teaching and conducting. [...] It runs in our blood and is something that makes us who we are born in the Odmark family."
And judging by another blog post, she was very close to her father, Richard Odmark, who sadly died in 2013, which Terra describes as "the hardest day of my life." But nothing can possibly keep Terra down for long, because she refuses to be stopped. The ability to forge her own path away from all of her friends and family back in Texas and Michigan couldn't have been easy, but it's the type of trait that makes fans love her so much, and one I hope she passes down to her child.
Image: Zach Dilgard/Lifetime