Katee Sackhoff: Most women in my family marry and have children. I was different

The Battlestar Galactica actor talks about not knowing she had a sister until she was 10, and how her mum still visits her on set

My brother, Erick, is probably the reason I ended up doing action movies. He is ayear older than me. Growing up, our relationship was me trying to look pretty all the time, and him pushing me in mud. When I was about two, wearing my Sunday best, he pushed me into our goldfish pond. I remember sinking into the pond and then standing at the bottom, looking up as the fish swam over my head. According to my mother, I was only in there for 30seconds and the pond was only two feet deep. But in my mind, that pond was about 20ft deep. It seemed like something out of Alice in Wonderland.

I didnt meet my sister, Mylisa, until Iwas 10, but she is one of my best friends now. She is 10 years older than me and grew up with her mother. Our dad didnt know she existed until she was 20. My mom was amazing about it. She was like: this is awesome, you have a sister now. That made having a sister really exciting, but we didnt get close until I was 25 and she was 35, and we had more in common.

My fondest memories of my dad are onour boat. It was 25ft (7.6m), with atiny kitchen and was big enough to sleep on. My brother and I spent a lot of time on that boat. We were like water babies. We would go fishing, crabbing and catch shrimp on the dock. The Pacific northwest of America, where we grew up, is absolutely beautiful.

A crab once caught on to my brothers thumb when we were crabbing. He was 11. A crab claw can inflict a lot of damage, and it hurts really badly. My brother was screaming and crying and the crab wouldnt let go. So he just grabbed it with his other hand, and bit it through the head. It was really funny. He bit it back! Eventually, my parents came to help, and it let go.

My parents were just the right amount of strict when I was young. They understood that kids need to be kids, but they were definitely the bosses. I didnt talk back, I didnt sass I was a pretty good kid.

When I was 16, I told my parents I wanted to move to Los Angeles and become an actor. The fact that they wholeheartedly supported me brought us closer together. My father gave me some great advice he said I needed tofigure out what made me different from all the girls who looked exactly like me in California. He said ifyou cant figure out what makes youspecial, you will never get a job. Igraduated from high school and then drove down to LA in arental van with my mom.

I chose a very untraditional route in life compared with the rest of my family. Most women in my family get married and have children, but I did avery different thing. My grandmother was almost 90 when she died, and my life was very different from the one she lived or potentially understood. When she was in hospice care, we were all saying goodbye and when I went in, she gave me this really big hug and told me she was proud of me. The memory of that still makes me cry.

My mom taught me that I could do anything I wanted to. She has been onsets with me since I was 16 and she still comes to visit me on set. She flies to wherever I am. She can take the boredom: shes used to it she will sit and read a book. Whereas, if I brought my sister she would be deadly bored after five minutes.

In my family, you dont shy away from controversy and you tell each other thetruth. As the wine starts to flow, our conversations get a lot more interesting. There is nothing that is off the table. Our significant others have learned that you either keep your mouth shut or you just get in there.

I know absolutely where everyone in my family stands on every issue you can possibly imagine. Theres something about that which, for a child, is reassuring. You know that your parents might not always agree with you, but you are never going to be judged for it. My family have been supportive of every decision I have ever made in mylife.

Dont Knock Twice is in cinemas now and on demand and DVD from 3 April

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/mar/31/katee-sackhoff-women-in-family-marry-children-i-was-different