In the lead up to International Women’s Day 2022, we’ll be releasing a series of blog posts around this year’s theme, #BreaktheBias.
Our second blog of the series is written by fellow Bish Bosh Bash cast member and mother, Hannah Franklin. Hannah gives us an honest and thought-provoking account of how becoming a mother has morphed her into the performer she is today.
It’s 6.05pm, my toddler is pretending he’s a plesiosaur in the bath and the baby is still attached to me having his bedtime feed. I need to be at the theatre at 6.30pm. I run out the door, get in the car and put the radio on. The motherness that washes through me day in and day out diminishes to my centre and my other self, the actor, slowly starts to emerge. It feels amazing.
I’ve been performing for the Bish Bosh Bash since 2017 and I have had two children since then. I’ve been on stage feeling sick, feeling enormous (with a bulging belly), feeling exhausted. You never forget you’re a mother, this new being that you’ve morphed into, you have a new conscious that is always wondering…are they hungry? Will they take the bottle? Are there enough nappies at home? But this stops on stage. It’s the only time in my new life I’ve known this consciousness to disappear into a place so deep that I can momentarily transform to Hannah the actor, the improver, the character.
All that space where anxiety, nerves, sabotage used to sit, is now filled with my responsibilities as a parent
I used to get nervous before auditions, castings, performing: but motherhood makes you give so many less fucks. I’m just too tired to overthink anything, time is a commodity I don’t posses and I have to be entirely focused. I have 20 minutes to smash the self tape before the kids wake up from their nap, I have 2 hours on stage to enjoy my craft and no time to wallow in any self doubt…All that space where anxiety, nerves, sabotage used to sit, is now filled with my responsibilities as a parent.
I’ve found it hard at times, there’s no doubt. I got asked to do a show when I was 8 weeks post partum and I just had to say no. Something that I’ve not done before, but there’s power in that too, it makes the yes’s sweeter. When everyone rushes to the bar for a post show debrief over wine, I have to get home. When everyone kicks back in their bed to sleep, decompress, I’m getting ready to wake every two hours to feed and wind the baby.
In law, being pregnant is a protected characteristic but unfortunately I’ve found that just isn’t always the case as a performer. I’ve lied about being pregnant, knowing if the director knew, I wouldn’t get cast. I turned up to a commercial job for a well known gym brand, trying to hide the fact I was 4 months pregnant. I got the job before I knew and because of covid, filming was delayed…there I was on set, 16 weeks later with a tiny human growing inside. Costume were throwing me a few funny looks as they handed me their size 10 leggings…I had to rip them at the seams in the changing room to make them fit, pulling my top over my fairly obvious secret. Maybe it’s not a surprise that the cut they went with, was a close up of my face!
The truth is, being an actor has always been tough but now in a funny way, it’s got easier.
There will always be a few bad apples but I want you to know it’s not always like that. I recently got cast in a film, they knew I had a young baby and did everything to make me comfortable. Making time for me express (getting rid of milk build up) on set, checking in with me, adjusting the schedule to send me home early. I was so happy to be there as an actor and a mother – they were not mutually exclusive.
The truth is, being an actor has always been tough but now in a funny way, it’s got easier. When I used to be ‘resting’ between jobs, I was frustrated, disappointed, wondering if I was I good enough, wishing I wanted to do something else. I don’t have that anymore. I’m grateful for the job, love doing it and then …I love coming home to my boys. There is no resting between jobs anymore, there’s only early mornings, late nights, snotty noses, laughs, tears, smiles and dinosaurs. Motherhood doesn’t get in the way of being an actor: it makes me a better one.