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“Slummy Mummy”: On the Mom-Work Balance

April 14, 2013

I thought I would get some other perspectives on the actor/mom juggling act —

Jennifer Weedon – a wife, mom, actor, writer & producer extraordinaire! I love her candid answers and really relate.  Enjoy!

JenniferWeedonGreen

-What are the biggest challenges in juggling being a mom and an actor? 

The biggest challenge by far is childcare. When I’m not working, I’m home with my son full-time. That’s how I want it–I don’t want to miss a moment.  But it’s an actor’s job to be available at all times to audition unless booked out. When an agent calls with an audition for tomorrow (or even later today!), I can’t say, “Let me find a sitter and get back to you.” I have to accept (with a terrible feeling of panic in the pit of my stomach), hang up, and start the mad dash to find a sitter. And it’s really difficult to justify paying $20 an hour to someone to stay with my child while I audition (which is earning me nothing.) So every audition is an expense, where it wasn’t before. I’m lucky that I have a couple of “volunteer” babysitters I can check with first. I’d like to meet more actress/moms so we can help each other out in a pinch!

-Any tips/advice for creating balance in your career/family balance?  Have you had to create any new habits?

Around here, we don’t really do “balance.” Our lives have always been about our work. We are both freelance and work from home. My husband is the bandleader of The Hot Sardines, an awesome jazz band that has really taken off. But that means he is out of town a lot and when he is home, he is working 13 hours or more per day in our one bedroom apartment. We’ve had to learn how to work in spurts, with our little guy running around underfoot as we do it. It’s important to us that he doesn’t feel like he is in the way and that he isn’t affected by the tension that sometimes goes on and that’s a challenge.

I try to plan to do any work that requires deep focus or computer time for during his nap or after he goes to bed. Before kids, I used to watch TV, read, or relax from dinner until bedtime. Now I work from his bedtime until about 11pm, let myself watch a half hour of TV and go to bed because my son will be up early asking for pancakes!

Lists and calendars are much more important. My husband and I both have iPhones and we share a “shopping list” app and sync our Google calendars.

-How has being a mom helped your acting work or your career? And vice versa?

Being a mom, especially because it was a bit of a rocky road to get there, has made my emotions much more raw and accessible. I have a new perspective on how fleeting life is and am more likely to live “in the moment.” It’s also given me more confidence–I know what really matters to me in life now and don’t go so bogged down with “actor mind-taffy” as casting director Bonnie Gillespie put it so well.

Sometimes I do get extra nervous auditioning for a big job, because I think, “Book this and my son is guaranteed to have health insurance next year”,   and sometimes I’m actually less nervous because I think, “What’s the worst that can happen if I bomb this? I go back to having a full life raising the most wonderful guy on the planet.”

Having so much less time to work on my career has forced me to become very focused whereas before I  tried any and every thing that might help. I love theater, but until my son is older, I’ve had to put it aside because of the low financial incentive and huge time commitment  I did one play around my son’s first birthday and almost had to be taken to the nut house. I’m less likely now to accept “any role at all” and concentrate on quality.

-You are producing your own work based on motherhood.  Tell me more about that? 

I started writing Slummy Mummy (a web series now in production) during my son’s naps–back when he was a baby and took three a day! I wanted to produce my own work for a while and had written some stuff, but nothing ever felt good enough. I was getting a lot of material from the mom-scene in my neighborhood. I swear, it was like “Mean Girls” grown up!

A friend encouraged me to take the first three episodes to The International Academy of Web TV’s Writers Group. I was terrified, but got an amazing response! Soon I had people offering to work with me and make it happen. That show gave a producer an idea for ANOTHER mommy-related show, Double Leche, and he asked me to write it and produce it with him. So now, I’m writing and producing two web series. We’ve shot seven episodes so far and it’s been awesome! We’re waiting to have a full season to release.

It’s given me a very different perspective as an actor. I’ve sat on the other side of the table for auditions and now realize how arbitrary casting decisions can be. So much of it is out of an actor’s control. Producing is empowering, exhausting, fun, and well worth it.

-What advice would you give someone who is considering having kids but is worried that it will hurt his/her career?

I had the same worries but always knew I wanted to be a mom. I know this sounds harsh and hesitate to say it, but if you are on the fence about becoming a parent, don’t. Being a mom is the best thing I’ve ever done, but if I said it helped my career, I’d be lying. Sure, aspects of it make me a better actor. But I don’t have time or financial resources to do a lot of the things that set an actor ahead of the pack. If you decide to have a baby, you have to come to terms with that. I knew that if on my deathbed, I haven’t “made it” as an actor, I’d feel regret. But if at the end of my life, I hadn’t had children, I’d be devastated.

It’s difficult to describe the love you feel for your child. It’s a combination of wonder, protectiveness, and infatuation. It’s amazing!

-Thanks so much Jennifer!! Connect with Jennifer at:

www.jenniferweedon.com,

Slummy Mummy: The Web Series

Twitter @jenniferweedonp & @Slummy_Mummy 

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. April 14, 2013 2:27 pm

    Such a great, honest account of motherhood as an actor. So refreshing to hear someone tell it like it actually is! Great interview.

    • The Mothering Actor permalink
      April 14, 2013 4:50 pm

      Thanks Erin. I totally agree, I love Jennifer’s raw and honest account of the motherhood juggling act.

    • April 15, 2013 5:51 pm

      Thanks, Erin. I actually had a moment of regret after I hit the “Send” button on this interview. Like, “Was I TOO honest? Are people going to think I’m a big downer and don’t love my kid?” But the truth is I love him more than life AND it’s difficult at the same time.

  2. April 14, 2013 8:03 pm

    Thanks for this blog! I audition for a lot of “mom” roles but am not a mom myself. I have to admit, when moms bring their kids to auditions and ask others to watch them while they are in the room, I have in the past gotten annoyed. But reading your blog and thinking about you having to go through the expense and hassle of getting a babysitter for a 2 minute audition is rough! In the future, I’ll be more compassionate.

    • The Mothering Actor permalink
      April 14, 2013 8:09 pm

      I may have been one of those annoying moms with a kid!! I love your response and THANK YOU for your generosity!!!!!

    • April 15, 2013 5:49 pm

      What a nice reply! I try to avoid taking my kid to an audition at all costs. But sometimes I have no choice and am so appreciative of those who have offered to help out.

Trackbacks

  1. The Inspirational Wendy Braun – On Balancing Career and Family. | The Green Room
  2. Time, Priorities and Movies – My Interview with Actor Dan Franko. | The Green Room

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