At the age of 17, Keisha Castle-Hughes welcomed her first child, a daughter named Felicity-Amore with boyfriend Bradley Hull.
The Whale Rider star, now 19, is back to work and premiering her new movie The Vintner’s Luck at the Toronto International Film Festival. At the premiere, Keisha opened up to PEOPLE about the joys of motherhood:
I absolutely love being a mother. It’s been a blessing. It’s fun and it’s hard, but it’s absolutely amazing. Felicity’s just like me. All trapped into a little body. It’s quite full on. She’s got lots of energy and quite dramatic. She’s picked up quite a few dramatic tendencies from me, which is good and bad. But it’s very exciting to watch her personality develop.”
As for being a teenage mom in Hollywood, the youngest female star ever to be nominated for a Best Actress Academy Award – she was 13 – says, “It’s no different for me than any other mum in the world. It can be a little stressful and tiring, but it’s the most rewarding thing.”
While critics said she was too young to have a baby, she disagreed. “I was in a very different situation when I had her. I was in a loving and stable relationship with her father, who I’m still with. I had quite an established career and so the decision to have her was very easy. Once I found out I was pregnant there was no decision really. I was shocked but it was just like, ‘Okay, we are having a baby. That’s great.’”
She added, “I’ve lived a fast-paced life, but I had the best childhood. I didn’t miss out on anything by having my daughter at a young age … If I would go back and change things, I would not. I can’t imagine living my life without her.”
Keisha revealed that she and Bradley, 22, have “been engaged for 2½ years. It’s a very long engagement but no immediate plans. Eventually it will happen. I love him and we will be together for the rest of our lives.” She went on to say that Bradley is an excellent father. “He’s very present in her life. He’s a fantastic father who absolutely loves her. He’s very gentle and very loving with her. He does everything with her and is the perfect dad.”
And what about siblings for Felicity? “I have no idea how many, but it changes every day. I come from a big family, so I’d like to have a big family,” the New Zealand native said.
Keisha shared that it’s hard to be away from her daughter. “When I’m away from her it’s torture. The minute I see a little kid on the street, I want to be with them. The [parents] go, ‘Excuse me, can you not touch my child?’ And I’m like, ‘I just wanted to hold them because I miss my own kid!’”