There’s a thing about being an actress that initially affects women more than men. While the men are affected in the long term, generally, they don’t stop working at any point in the lead up.
Having a baby.
I’ve thought about babies before, truly I have, but I have always put it off up to this point. And not because I haven’t wanted one. I always knew there’d be a point where I would eventually be ready. Up to now however, I have simply put it off more so from fear that my career would stop. My body is my temple (well business) and all that. And you must have heard women in the playground saying once you have a baby life is over. Well…even if it’s not, as an actress it certainly feels like it will be.
As a female actor, we stop working when we have a baby, and even in part while we are growing said baby. It’s physically impossible for things to stay the same there is a massive watermelon sized bub growing out of us after all. For the office lady having a child, this typically comes complete with a tidy maternity pay and a guaranteed job to go back to. For an actress this means time off because you look different, no maternity pay, no guaranteed holiday leave and no guarantee of work later. Sod’s law right, when you’re actually doing a job that you love (because most of us do love being actors).
So I’m having a baby. No putting it off any longer. I’m well into the journey of second trimester (over 5 months to be exact). Until I was showing I couldn’t really announce it to the world, or tell too many peeps at the risk of not getting cast. And until my baby bump was showing, I didn’t actually want anyone to know (even if I am blooming excited) for fear that that’s exactly what may happen. I could imagine the phone call going something like “Oh hey Angela, what has been going on?…Oh congrats…great news. Oh what was I calling about? Oh…nothing. Just saying hi.” And they hang up and ring another actress to offer her your part.
It isn’t like I’m the first lady to have embarked on this ride. This year alone already two of my best mates have just had gorgeous teeny babies within a few short weeks of one another, and another friend is due in 7 weeks. I also already have three actress friends who have done the deed (I make it sound like they were losing their virginity don’t I). So yeah, it’s not as if I’m the first one to boldly go where no actress has gone before.
And yes I know that future baby daddy’s around the world fear a loss of their social life, tireless nights in, and the end of their beer drinking nights as they know it…but their body doesn’t go through a huge human change where it morphs into a massive Santa belly, complete with bonus nausea each day and a stomach that’s ready to devour itself if it isn’t fed every bloody hour. And they certainly don’t have to maneuver around not drinking wine at public events (imagine Cannes without a glass of Rose!), not eating soft eggs, soft cheese, undercooked meat, and all the other goods stuff for about 8 months! But alas, we do get to create one of the most incredible things in the human race. A little tiny human complete with their own mind, legs, arms and resolve. And that is almost unbelievable to fathom.
So why does it feel like the world is ending. Why does having a baby have to feel like my career is coming to a big fat end? Like having a baby comes with a huge cost? I guess, because it quite simply does.
Firstly your agent will want updates as to how you are progressing. You need to be honest with them so they can accommodate you as you start to show and also, so they aren’t losing face with the Casting Directors they’ve worked tirelessly with for years to build up good relationships. The last thing you want to do is turn up to a casting when the CD is expecting you will look like your headshot, and the previous audition you had with them. Not like you just ate the whole turkey at roast lunch which I am pretty much ready to do at any given moment! Have I mentioned how much you eat when you are pregnant?
As soon as you show, you also won’t be able to apply for the typical work you’ve been suggesting yourself for up to this point. If you do, you’ll have to make sure you are transparent and let the producers and managers know what is coming. And let’s be realistic. We aren’t all Olivia Coleman, for example, where they’ll just nod and change the character’s plot for your role in the Night Manager. No. It doesn’t work like that for everyone, especially unknowns.
The other thing I am constantly reminded of is the celebrity mums that bounce back to their size zero bodies after about 2 weeks of giving birth. What the! How the hell does one average lady do that when I don’t have my personal trainer or a kazillion dollars to spend on three babysitters and a nutritionist.
And if that isn’t enough, every female who has ever had a baby decides they are the Mother Teresa of the baby world, and (in the nicest meaning possible way) start imparting their pregnancy wisdom on me, with that knowing voice, and look of seniority. And yet out of all the women who have done this to me thus far, very few told me anything that was even remotely good. Instead most feel the need to share their horror stories or labour traumas like it’s their badge of honour. I mean, come on ladies. Give me the good stuff. Don’t terrify me when there’s no going back!
Okay okay, of course I am embellishing slightly. I admit that you do receive some lovely comments, advice and ideas along the way. There are some very wise mum’s out there. Just be sure to head what’s right for you. It’s your body and your baby so you get full right of passage to feel as good as possible, and to keep that tiny human as healthy as possible.
So after all is said and done if you’ve made it thus far through my tiny rant, I bet you’re probably wondering if, all going well, I am actually excited about this little human descending upon my world in less than four months?
The short answer is Hell yeah! These thoughts are just a few of the things going through one actress’ tiny brain in the wake up call to the next stage of evolution in her life. If you are an actress and you are going to have a baby, you just have to be realistic about what it means financially and career wise. The reality is we can’t have it all every day of the week. But we can have lots of wonderful things in life in due course.
Also I figure if I play my cards right maybe I can get me a nappy commercial and convince them to let me tweet about their nappies in return for a free year of nappy supplies. And maybe they’ll throw in an au pair for good measure, and some of those cute little designer onesies 😉
Right, with that nausea subsiding and my bladder going back to some semblance of normal this trimester, I’m going to kick my remaining acting months into half speed while I consider what crazy baby names my man and I can come up with to rival the likes of Beyoncé.
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