How Can I Be a Mother and still a committed actor?

Melanie Downs, 1 September 2012

9 months ago Hurricane Ophelia passed over the UK. Around the same time I gave birth to my own Ophelia, and felt like a Hurricane (albeit hugely positive Hurricane!) had torn through my life. The first few months passed in a whirlwind of exhaustion, worry, delirium and absolute joy and and it was quickly clear that life would never be the same again. And I would not have it any other way. But after the dust of my own personal hurricane settled after the first few months, I was left asking myself the all-important question: Where does acting fit in to all of this?

Coming to the D & D Roadshow, this was a question I was keen to raise with other mothers in the same position. As many of my actor friends who have become mothers have decided to leave their acting career behind, I have felt increasingly isolated being the only mum I know who still feels as passionately about theatre now, as pre-parenthood.

One of the things that I realised only recently, after an audition came up for a tour, is that I can't tour with a 9 month old and I had to ask myself the question, would I want to? It is clear that priorities change when you have a child, and the key to maintaining a career within the industry, is to change your own goals perhaps, and to find work that is more suitable. This is something we discussed today, creating your own work with one or two other local actors, with a view to keeping children around you within the rehearsal space. I was encouraged to hear how like-minded actor/parents have a similar view of parenting, as well as acknowledging how keeping children within a creative environment is actually beneficial not just for the baby/child but also for the parent/actor. This is definitely something that I envisage for myself and my children.

We certainly agreed that the flexibility of being an actor can work well alongside being a mother. Today's session was encouraging on many levels, just to be able to find re-assurance from fellow actor/mothers that there is acting beyond motherhood and indeed, the two can sit hand in hand.


actor, parent, baby, mother, Actor