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How to be an Actor *and* a Mom

August 12, 2014

howtobalancemomandcareer

When choosing to pursue any artistic career, there’s a lot of sacrifice involved — job stability, a predictable working schedule, vacations planned way in advance, a cushy corner office, extended families who understand what we do, and often, financial abundance, are all things that we agree to say no to when signing up for an acting career. But does having our own families have to be something we sacrifice, too?

I’ve personally been balancing being a successful actor and being a good wife (I hope!!) for years now; it’s totally do-able, although the choices aren’t always easy. But figuring out how to add children into that mix is always something that’s stumped me. How do women do it? How do we find Sheryl Sandberg-style career boldness, while also being the best Moms that we can be?

Gwyneth Paltrow upset a lot of women when she was quoted as saying that movie star moms have it harder than other moms, and it’s not hard to see why — of course she has financial advantages that ease many of the struggles that regular working moms face. But although she could have phrased it better, she was right on the money about the many unique challenges that actress moms face — intensely long hours on set or onstage, unpredictable work schedules, having to fly to far-flung locations at a moment’s notice…among other things like the pressure to be in great shape and have a youthful appearance.

So to soothe my curiosity, I started to talking to actor moms friends of mine to find out how they do it. And friends recommended a few other incredible actors moms they knew. And before I knew it, I had compiled this fabulous resource for anyone contemplating jumping into motherhood without giving up their artistic aspirations.

The talented, hardworking, and generous actor moms who contributed to this post are:

Jessica Leigh Smith

Carolann Sanita

Stephanie Scott

Chloe Dirksen

Erin Gilbreth

Margaret Kelly Murphy

Valisa Tate

Eevin Hartsough

Read on to learn about the challenges these actor moms face in their careers and at home, and how they manage to overcome them with wisdom and grace. It’s a virtual manifesto for how to be an actor and a mom, and it’s one of my favorite posts I’ve ever written.

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How many kids do you have, and how old are they now?

JESSICA: I have two daughters. They are 5 years and 20 months.

CAROLANN: One boy and he is 5.

STEPHANIE: I have one child, a boy, and he just turned three!

CHLOE: 2 boys: ages 6 and 3.

ERIN: I have one son, Finn, who is three months old.

MARGARET: I have 3 boys, right now they are 7,9 and 13.

VALISA: I have two girls: Zoe is 5 ½ and Mia is 3 ½ (Mentioning that ½ is very important to my kids!).

EEVIN: I have one child – a boy – who is two years and five months.

 

How old were you when you had your first? Are you happy with the moment in your life when you got pregnant, or would you change it if you could?

JESSICA: My acting age range when I had my first daughter was about 21-25. I think I am very happy with the timing of it all. It has worked out well. We were trying, so we really wanted the good news.

CAROLANN: I was one month away from turning 35. It was one of the most magical times in my life. I felt like a goddess. I couldn’t believe that my body just KNEW how to grow this human!

STEPHANIE: I was 39 years old when I got pregnant. It was sort of a surprise. As an actress, I had hit the point where I was tired. I remember telling my friends that if things didn’t start progressing with my acting career, I was ready for a break. THAT is when I got pregnant! It was a sign.

I think that being an actress in your late thirties can be a very confusing time. It really is a ‘now or never’ feeling. I made a very strong choice at that time to allow whatever to happen to just happen….let fate decide if I were to be a mother or continue on with my freedom as an artist. If I had never gotten pregnant, life would have continued on as usual. If I did get pregnant, I would be very happy as well. I made the choice to be happy regardless.

CHLOE: I was 28. It was the perfect time for me. My life would be different if I had had my kids earlier or later, but I can’t imagine changing anything at all.

ERIN: Ha! I don’t mind sharing that I am turning 40 this month. I was surprised that I was able to get pregnant easily. I’ll admit that I was scared about derailing my career. I know how hard it can be at my age to conceive. I didn’t advertise anything but happiness, lest I offend any friends who were trying to get pregnant and finding it difficult; but secretly, I was terrified.

MARGARET: I started late, in my mid 30s, I knew when I had kids I wanted to be present for them. I had been touring doing stage work around the country. Since I had kids I have stayed in the city. I’m very glad that I did all the touring before I had kids.

VALISA: I had Zoe when I was 39 years old and Mia two weeks before I turned 41 years old. I’m very happy with the timing of when I had my children.

EEVIN: I was in my mid 30’s. It was right in terms of my relationship with my husband – us being ready as a couple. I had hoped to have reached certain career milestones that I hadn’t reached when I got pregnant so, given that, part of me wishes I hadn’t waited quite so long. But it all happened the way it happened – very deliberately, making the best choices we could at the time – and I’m so delighted with my son and our little family that it’s hard to imagine it any other way (or feel particularly regretful in hindsight).

Do you believe in the idea that women can “have it all”?

JESSICA: No, I do not believe in the idea that women can “have it all.” Absolutely not, especially in our industry. The demands placed on actors to develop their careers is extreme and to really do it properly, you need to be single and childless. I do believe you can have success as an actress while focusing on your children, but I believe those are the exceptions to the rule. I believe either career or family has to be sacrificed. For me, the choice is to sacrifice career, but I don’t always do a great job at stepping away from the career and focusing on my daughters.

CAROLANN: Yes.

STEPHANIE: NOPE!!!! Sorry to sound so negative, but I really don’t think we can have it all. Something is always sacrificed when you are a mother, AND and when are an artist. However, I do think that if you have a decent support system, you can have some alone time, something every mother needs.

CHLOE: The thing is, the idea of “all” changes if and when you decide to become a parent. My idea of success is balancing my kids with my career – and my kids come waaaayyy before any job possibly could. When I started acting again after having my babies, I decided that it was only on the condition that I was going to take jobs that would not require me to travel. Which of course limits me (since I now live in Eastern Long Island), and also makes me seem less “serious”. But you know what? That means nothing, because my life is about much more than my career now. I think it’s easy to put pressure on ourselves as women to not “fall out” of our careers, and we become fearful that things will change. They do change, they should change, and it’s all positive. For me “having it all” is defining success on my own terms, drawing my confidence from within, and not caring about who thinks what of me. That is helpful as a parent, and as an actress.

ERIN: I do! I don’t even think it’s a gendered thing. In my opinion, you’d be hard-pressed to find a person that doesn’t have at least one major obstacle to overcome. If you have a dream and work toward it, you will only get closer and closer to having it. Of course, as you are working toward it…you might find that you now want something different than your original dream. I think that often happens when people become parents and that’s fine, too! Live you life and stay open.

MARGARET: I did when I was younger. Now I think you can have all you want but just not necessary at the same time. In truth how could you enjoy what you have if you have no time to breath.

VALISA: I feel like I DO have it all. I have a very supportive husband, two beautiful girls and I’m able to follow my dreams career wise. I started out as an Art Director in advertising, transitioned my career into a becoming a Commercial Print Model and Actress. And most recently started working as a Stunt Woman. I like to think if myself as a Stunt Mom!

EEVIN: No one can have it all. I think that we can all have a lot. And maybe we can have most of “it” over time: before I had a kid, I got to travel more (and sleep more!) Now, I get to have a kid! Later, I’ll get to . . . do something else awesome. Having said that, it would be wrong not to acknowledge my privilege as a middle-class person. In my household, the choice has been for my husband to work and for me to stay home with our kiddo, which creates a radically different sent of possibilities and opportunities for me than it does for the couple who are also artists who both have to work day jobs. It’s challenging but it isn’t “how will we pay the rent?”

(On a related side note, I’m sure you’ve been following the larger discussion in the media about sexism in our culture and this question about women having it all (which is totally a question in the world, I’m not pointing fingers at you) seems like another great example of our society’s double-standard based on gender. My husband isn’t (or is?) having it all to the same extent as me – he’s an artist with a day job who’s had to make compromises and tough choices because of becoming a parent – but that’s not a part of the larger conversation about parenting in our culture.)

 

What are the top three hardest things about balancing babies and being an actor?

JESSICA:

  1. Watching your actress friends do all the things you wish you could be doing. I would love to be in different types of acting classes three nights a week. But I have to stick with one night a week. I would love to go to premieres and networking events, but I know family time at home is more important.
  2. Not second-guessing your decision to have children. I have never regretted it, but I have allowed myself to daydream about what I could be doing instead and that takes me out of the moment with my daughters AND puts me in a wrong frame of mind for loving them.
  3. Auditions and Bookings: Before, you got an audition notice and started prepping your work. Then, the day of the audition, you got ready to go. Now, I have to find a babysitter on less than 24 hours notice. I have to wait until after bedtime to prep, and I’m exhausted so I’m not mentally available. While I’m getting ready for the audition, I have little ones pulling on my legs, getting into my makeup, spilling milk all over the floor that I then need to clean up, two little girls fighting and screaming, get them food, etc. Simply showering and getting ready to go can now easily take four hours. Then there’s the matter of money. It now costs me roughly $30 in babysitting money every time I go for an audition! Then another $30 for the callback, if there is one. And heaven help you if the audition runs long and the sitter can’t stay longer. You’re stressed at the audition. Bookings cost more because those are 8-12 hours days. I try very hard to have a family member babysit for a booking.

CAROLANN:

  1. A baby requires all of your attention and your life is no longer your own. All the time and energy that your career as an actor requires is all of a sudden being used to care for the child.  So, the challenge is in finding a balance. Finding the time to practice and actually go to auditions.
  2. When you actually book a job, figuring out if you can take the child with you and who will babysit and can you afford to pay for a sitter while you are in rehearsals and performances…once I ended up paying a sitter almost my entire paycheck just to have my kid with me while I was in a show. It’s a challenge.
  3. The idea that you have to provide some kind of stability for your child…

STEPHANIE:

  1. TIME – I find that having the time to just memorize lines is a challenge. When you are a mom, your attention span just goes out the window. You are constantly interrupted, so you forget what you were doing from one minute to the next. An actress needs time to focus, and getting that time can be a real challenge.
  2. MONEY – Babies certainly cost a lot. Before I had a baby, I worked at my day job only three days a week on a fairly flexible schedule so I could continue working as an artist. However, having good health insurance and enough money to pay for babysitting and daycare required me to go back to work full-time. Actually, I shouldn’t say ‘required.’ It really was a choice, a choice I don’t regret.
  3. I can’t think of a third. I think it all comes down to time and money. However, time and money are challenges even without children!

CHLOE: Time, time, and time. You never have enough time to do everything. And flexible childcare!

ERIN: Well, I’ve only been balancing for a short time, but I’ve turned down three opportunities since my boy was born because I don’t feel ready to leave him with a sitter for long days of work yet. I had no idea I’d be such a “crunchy-granola” mamma, but I’m exclusively breast feeding and it’s working out really well so I’m going to stick with it for awhile. I’m feeding my kid – that’s my job right now. I’m using this quiet time in my life to read and watch TV/films. Oh – and I sing a lot. I sing around the house more now than I ever did before. My son is a big fan. He loves every song I that sing to him. It’s been fantastic for me to relax and be receptive as an artist during this time.

When I am back in the saddle – probably January 2015, unless a juicy opportunity pops up that I consider doable before then – I think the hardest things are going to be:

  1. finding time to rehearse on my own (free time is sparse and kids’ needs are unpredictable)
  2. relying on sitters (who might cancel at the last minute – eek!)
  3. getting enough sleep (ever try to memorize something when you’re very tired? Yeah…that.)

MARGARET: Time, balance and money, when you decide to have children it has to become your first priority. Unlike the house plants I would get thinking I could grow into a forest in my apartment, then slowly kill off as I forgot to water them, you have to remember to at least feed your children. I think they have laws about that.

I use to tell myself I could start a family if I could first keep a house plant alive then a small pet. What I have learned is I can’t keep plants, pets and children going at the same time. Feel free to drop by and water my half dead plants at anytime. I suppose before I had children I still never had enough time, now I just realize how wrong my lazy old self was. Children require a lot of daily planing. If I want to make it to an audition I not only have to prepare for the audition but make sure my kids have a babysitter. On the other hand there is nothing like coming home to my kids running into my arms, or watching my kids proud beaming faces after I sing in front of an audience.

Before I had kids or a husband, My career was the center of my life. If I had some extra money I had no trouble justifying taking an extra class or seeing a show. Now the extra money is likely to go to a class for one of my kids or our laughable college funds.

VALISA:

  1. Scheduling
  2. Childcare
  3. Lack of sleep

EEVIN: Time. Time. and Time. I want to be a great mom. I want to be a great wife. I want to have a robust and satisfying and lucrative artistic career. Figuring out how to allocate the time I have on any given days towards those goals is often the biggest puzzle. And that’s when everything is going well. This past year my mom was diagnosed with and, ultimately, died of brain cancer which was like adding another part-time job. It was my privilege to help care for her but every set of priorities that gets added divides up the resource-pie a little more.

 

What are your greatest resources in dealing with those challenges?

JESSICA: I don’t always deal with it well. I can go through cycles of worry and jealousy. I have to have mental talks with myself. Remind myself that I want this life, that at the end of my life I will want this life over anything else. I remember that it won’t always be like this. They need you desperately when they’re tiny, but it isn’t so demanding as they get older. Of course, they still need your presence and your emotional availability, but you aren’t spending your days trying desperately to just keep them alive. As for missing out on events and class and things of that sort, I remind myself that it only takes one break, one person to see you and cast you in that thing that makes a difference. And I don’t have control over who that person will be or over where or how I will meet them. So I have to trust that what I can do is enough.

CAROLANN: My friends and family for sure. A supportive partner. Also, my own ambition and belief that where there is a will there is a way.

STEPHANIE: For me, my husband makes it possible to go and produce my projects. He gives me the time I need when he can give it to me. I think every actor/mom needs a good support network, whether that be family, friends, or even other actress/moms to help each other out with babysitting!

CHLOE: My husband, who encourages me and changes everything in his power to accommodate the crazy schedules. My mother and my mother-in-law, who are angels and have swooped in every time I’ve had a gig, moved in for weeks at a time, and taken over for me. And a handful of wonderful, amazing sitters who I’ve been fortunate enough to have help me.

ERIN: I think the greatest resource is having a stash of wonderful local friends that absolutely LOVE your kid(s) and would be willing to take them off your hands in an emergency or if you need a few hours to yourself.

MARGARET: Other parents, I was amazed at the strong group of working actor moms and dads out there, many doing much more then I am. I am fortunate to life in a building with many other artists. I was inspired to see them heading out to auditions or booking gigs while still parenting and working side jobs.

VALISA: Being really organized, having a great nanny and a wonderful husband.

EEVIN:

  1. My husband who wants me to succeed and who does everything he can to be available to tap in when I need to go to auditions, rehearsals, classes, etc.
  2. Maybe not so much a resource but a strategy of goal-setting that helps make those day-to-day choices about how I should be spending my time more clear and makes my actions day-to-day more potent/powerful (and hopefully effective).
  3. Passion and stubbornness. 😉

 

What is your best advice to an actress considering motherhood?

JESSICA: Do it. I firmly believe we will never regret having our children, but we will most certainly regret not having them. As for real tangible advice, can I list a few?

  1. Don’t do it alone. Your partner must be on board with helping out tremendously. Have a circle of other moms who can step in and help you out at the last minute. Have a loooooong list of possible babysitters who understand why you’re so last minute. I have had great success with homeschooled high schoolers and college students–they have the most flexible schedules.
  2. If your figure is a concern for you (as it is for most of us), prep before getting pregnant. If you are not currently working out and eating well on a daily basis, start. Don’t put off pregnancy for the diet, but do diet while you’re trying to get pregnant. Your body will reward you with an easier recovery after labor and a quicker return to the size you already were. As an actress, you are aware of muscle memory. It works here, too. Your body will remember how it felt to be healthy and it will help you push to get back to that state.
  3. Do everything you can to further your career NOW! I know you are incredibly busy and you don’t see how you could possibly squeeze in anything else. But I assure you, once the baby comes, you will scold yourself to no end for all the minutes and hours and days you wasted binge watching Netflix. You may believe your mom friends when they tell you how busy they are, but you won’t understand how until it happens to you. And even then, you’ll still look back on your days and wonder how you did absolutely nothing productive and yet feel as if you ran five marathons. Make a plan and do it all now.

CAROLANN: Be ready to make some sacrifices and encounter more change than you expect, but know that things do eventually get easier…and you are not alone.

STEPHANIE: Just like an acting career, motherhood is unpredictable. You have to just roll with the punches. If you always dreamed of being a mom, go for it. If you are just not sure, that is OK too! I think we all just need to be comfortable with the choices we make. No regrets.

CHLOE: Do what you need to do as a person. Everything will fall into place as it should if you are leading with your heart. I promise you that no role, no amount of success in your career, will fill your soul like the experience of being a mother. It takes bravery to step away from your career, but if and when you return, you will have grown in ways you will never have imagined.

ERIN: Do it. Just do it. It’ll be the hardest and most wonderful thing you’ve ever done.

MARGARET: Think it through carefully, make sure it is something you really want to do instead of think you should because of pressure from family or friends. Even though I see many more involved fathers the truth is you will be the mother and therefor the buck still stops with you. Know that it is doable and rewarding but it is not easy.

VALISA: If it can be avoided, don’t do it alone. Parenting is a tough job. A great supportive partner makes all the difference in the world.

EEVIN: Because, as actors/actresses, we’re deeply passionate about our art, our craft and our careers, it can feel really frightening to take any steps that might undermine all of the work we’ve been doing to move our careers forward. We don’t want to loose the momentum we’ve been working so hard to build. Take a break to have a baby?! What happens when we try to come back to acting a year later? What if we can’t loose the baby weight? Worse: what if our network has forgotten us? When I was pregnant I was SO afraid of being counted out because of not being around for a little while and because of those stereotypes non-parents have about how when people have babies they disappear. In retrospect, I wish I’d spent less time worrying and more time just enjoying my newborn and then getting back to work (as I did) without all of the extra agita. When you’re an actor – unless you’re super-famous and in between projects (and probably not even then) there’s no “good” time to have a baby. So just have one if that’s what you want. Celebrate it. And then trust yourself. You’ll still be you and you’ll have an even richer life on which to draw when making your art.

 

What is one unexpected actor benefit to being a mom?

JESSICA: I am way more open emotionally than ever before. Oh, and I have developed a confidence in myself that I never had before. It’s a very strong confidence that comes, I think, from being responsible for the growth and well-being of other human beings. And, if I do my day right, I play like a kid again, which relaxes me as an actress.

CAROLANN: Becoming a mother has definitely opened me up on an emotional level I never encountered before. I actually live in a state of emotional vulnerability that helps me to relate to other people much easier than I ever have…which makes me a better actress!

STEPHANIE: I do think that I rely on my instincts more. I have no time to ‘over think’ a character, I just go with my gut. I think if I had the opportunity, I can reach certain emotions I didn’t know I had in me.

CHLOE: My work has grown in depth exponentially. Being a parent is the most profound emotional journey – and your work can only be enriched when you grow in that way, Also, being a parent makes you super tough, and this is helpful during late tech nights or early morning shoots – you honestly will never complain again!

I’ve completely lost any tolerance for bullshit and drama as well – which is very helpful to the work, because it makes me focused. You have to become really efficient with the time and energy you have when you’re a parent, and this translates really well.

As a mom, you get used to just doing your job and not expecting approval. You make decisions that feel right at the time and you move on. This is a good lesson for actors. Just do the work, trust the work, and move on!

ERIN: I have ease and patience that I didn’t have before. I’m typing with one hand right now: my son was asleep in my lap, but just got fussy and wanted to be held upright over my shoulder. Tasks take much longer to accomplish now and I’m okay with that. I still find a way to get them done. There’s always a way.

MARGARET: I am a much stronger person then I was before I had kids and the amount of life experience I have gained has helped me become a much better actor. A lot of the pressure I use to feel while going to an audition has lessoned. I have too many other things that scare me more, like my oldest just became a teenager two months ago and I think he may be an actor!

VALISA: Playing dress up, choreographing dance routines, doing cartwheels and acting out stories in the land of make believe is a typical day for my children and great practice for me.

EEVIN: Having to focus down my goals has been an amazing surprise benefit of becoming a mom. When I had less time to work on my career, I knew I’d have to make my goals more specific and bite-sized and I wish I’d managed to figure this out before I had a kid because I think I would’ve wasted a lot less time and gotten a lot more done. Moms are fierce when it comes to productivity; now that we don’t have any, we know what time is really worth and we make the most of it.

 

Share a photo of you from one of your favorite recent projects:

JESSICA: I was on a team that entered the Doritos SuperBowl contest. We did very well.

Doritos

CAROLANN: Cosette in Les Mis at FlatRock Playhouse – with Rob Evan and Josh Davis

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STEPHANIE: Mom Cave promotional photo

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CHLOE: The Crucible at Bay Street Theatre with Rob DiSario

crucible

ERIN: When I was 39 weeks pregnant, I was called up on stage during a fundraiser for Spontaneous Shakespeare Players. I cold-read a cue-script scene from Twelfth Night with other members of the company. From Left to Right: Mary McGloin, Christine Kahler, Adam Reich, Me and Fred Gilbreth. photo credit: www.spontaneousshakespeare.org

Twelfth Night

MARGARET: Me before filming a scene from the independent film “42 Seconds of Happiness.” It is in postproduction.

marg42sec

VALISA: Me & Ice-T from a stunt job on the set of “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”

image

EEVIN: Here’s a silly one from the set of a 48 hour film I made a couple months ago:

photoeevin

 

And, if you’re willing, share a cute kid pic!

JESSICA: We were making donuts.

making donuts

CAROLANN: Cooper James age 5 with Gerritt VanderMeer and myself

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STEPHANIE: It’s so hard to get him to hold still!

photostephanie

CHLOE: Me and the boys

photochloe

ERIN: Finn at three months

FinnGilbreth

MARGARET: I attached a picture from a few years ago but they are all in one place and happy, doesn’t happen very often.

3boypile

VALISA: Mia (3 ½) & Zoe (5 ½)

imagevalisa

EEVIN: And here’s the kiddo at the Central Park Zoo this past week:

photoeevin2

 

Anything else you’d like to share?

JESSICA: I try to be honest with others considering this path. I want you to know that it isn’t easy. But I also want to emphasize that it is, hands down, the most wonderful thing I have ever done. In no way would I ever trade my girls for the next Friends role, no matter how badly I want it. I feel like we have done a major disservice to women in our country by ingraining in female brains from childhood on that we should pursue careers like a man. As a result of this movement, scores of women put off having children until well into their 30s or 40s. We have repeatedly been told, “You’re young, you have plenty of time.” That isn’t true, not according to science. Our bodies were not created for that. That is why we now have scores of women who deal with infertility issues and then have to pay many thousands of dollars to have the life they finally decided they wanted or were finally ready to have. And I feel deeply for the actress who continues to put it off, thinking one more year, I’ll give it one more year. Then, at the end of life, she has no career AND no family. We can’t predict our careers; this industry doesn’t work that way. But we can create the full life that a family brings. And trust me when I tell you the mother-child relationship is unlike anything else you have ever experienced. You will never regret it. [Editor: Check out Jessica’s self-produced, Frozen-inspired parody video about being a Mom!]

CAROLANN: Although I am one and done, if I had the chance to go back and do it all over again, I would. 😉

STEPHANIE: After I became a mom and went back to work full-time, I actually didn’t care so much about being in front of the camera. While I am still passionate about acting, I want to be behind the camera these days. I co-produce a YouTube channel called MomCave, with four original shows: Slummy Mummy, Double Leche, Blabbermom, and MomCave Live! It gives me a chance to act and produce. I actually really like doing MomCave Live. It gives me a chance to just be myself and talk off the cuff. I’ll be directing my first episode of Double Leche soon, which I am excited about! Take a look at MomCave on Facebook and Twitter.

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Thank you from the bottom of my heart to all of the moms who contributed to this post. The wisdom, passion, and love all jump off the page here. If you benefitted from reading this post, please leave a comment to thank these incredible actor moms!

For anyone interested in keeping up with the moms interviewed here, click on their names at the top of the post to see their websites. And I’ve compiled a Twitter list of actor moms to follow!

Do you struggle with how to balance being an actor with nurturing a healthy home life or having your own family?

RedheadedActressSig

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 3, 2014 2:05 pm

    I’m an actress and mom to 4 kids! I loved, love, LOVED reading this!!! There needs to be more honesty about moms balancing their acting careers. Thanks for sharing!

  2. Bethany Adams permalink
    March 4, 2016 4:28 am

    My little boy just turned 11 months old. I turned 34 two weeks after he was born. The only regret I have is not doing it much earlier. I am exactly the person Jessica described, thinking that I wasn’t ready to have a kid until I achieved some level of success and even considered never having children because of my career hopes. Then one day I had a conversation with my husband and said, “What if we just go for it – for everything – go for all the things we want and just accept what comes?” So I went for it – for my career and for becoming a mother. I got pregnant after a few months, at that same time I started getting offers for the roles that I wanted and had to turn them down because the characters were not supposed to look five or six months pregnant :-). I know that having my boy has costed me roles, but it has also given me a focus and an ability to prioritise what work I choose. Ironically, I’ve made more money on VO gigs since having the baby than ever before (VO is dream work for an actress mom!). I’ve turned down roles that I technically could have played because I knew that those roles wouldn’t advance my career and it wasn’t work that I was really passionate about. Turning down roles has been very liberating and empowering, I feel I have more control over the direction my career is going. I’ll be playing Prospera in The Tempest with Prague Shakespeare Company in June as my first stage role back after having a baby and I think it’s just the perfect role to have as my “come back”. Oh, and mad props to the Rehearsal 2 app. I have been using it to prep for VO and auditions and it’s a life-saver. I record the scene after my boy goes to bed, then play it constantly the next day while I’m taking care of baby, doing dishes, whatever.

    • March 4, 2016 6:11 pm

      Love this! I, too, am so glad I bravely chose to jump into motherhood, despite fears about my career. I wouldn’t change it for the world.

  3. Cleopatra-reincarnated permalink
    May 9, 2017 2:02 pm

    Hi, I have come across this article. Very timely! I am 37 and have just found out I am expecting our first child – exciting and terrifying at once!! I was told 5 years ago that it would be a miracle if i could have a child so I feel truly blessed to be looking forward to the little one arriving :)))
    I am an actor in training, having only made the decision to explore the creative side of myself last year. I have held corporate positions for the past 12 years, dabbling with music on the side, but it never took off as I couldn’t see myself doing that for the rest of my days.
    I intend on continuing to hone my skills and develop my art, but am concerned due to all the pressure of being/looking young, available, a good parent, stable income, amongst a few things…!
    I am in training this year (whilst pregnant) and want to continue some more training after baby is 6 months old.
    The self-talk says I am too old and being selfish, but i can’t ignore the voice inside that wants to try…. why isnt this an issue for male actors??
    Any advice for me on balancing these two dreams?

    • May 10, 2017 11:19 am

      First of all, congratulations! My little one is almost a year and a half old, and I’m so thrilled to death that I didn’t let fear about my career keep me from having her in my life.

      Second, you’re never too old, and in order to be a good mom, you still need to be just “selfish” enough to retain part of your identity. If exploring a career in the arts is what makes your heart sing, you still need to do that, even though you’re responsible for another human now.

      I’m not going to sugarcoat it for you and say that it’s not much harder to pursue a career in the arts as a parent than not. The hardest part for me so far is having to say no to unpaid/underpaid gigs because it doesn’t cover childcare. That said, it’s also amazing to be home a lot with my kid because my artist schedule is so “flexible/weird.”

      If this is what you really want, you will find a way to make it work. It makes me mad that men don’t have to think about these problems the same way either, but I totally believe you can do this.

      • Cleopatra-reincarnated permalink
        May 10, 2017 11:41 am

        Thank you so much for your timely response, wishes and sharing your experience.

        It is very encouraging to hear that “where there’s a will, there’s a way” does indeed have a place here! I couldn’t agree more about keeping a little of my own identity.. I was only just in tears about it last night (combo of first trimester hormones and someone saying how life is “over” after children…!) I am choosing the company I keep very carefully from now..

        This and many other industries are competitive enough as it is and it should be that we are recognised as people for our art and what we bring to the table, rather than being compared to someone who is half our age or a different gender.

        I have a good support system in place with my husband already willing and happy to care for baby whilst I am on training and on set. Hoping the reality of this is as good as it sounds.

        Following both dreams (one at a time) :))

        • May 10, 2017 11:44 am

          Oh my, life is definitely not over when you have children!! Yes, things change significantly. But in many ways, I feel like my life has started all over again and blossomed in amazing ways! You will find a way to keep what’s most important to you in your life. This week, I’ve seen three Broadway shows and attended several Actors’ Equity Council and Committee meetings; last week, I handed off my little to my husband for an hour so I could audition. Find some supportive actor mom friends, and definitely follow me on Twitter at @kateophalen if you ever need a cheerleader 🙂

Trackbacks

  1. Mothering, Acting & Running, Elsewhere! | Ee!!!
  2. GUEST POST BY JESSICA LEIGH SMITH: Make Self-Producing Work For You | The Green Room

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