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“When are you going to get a proper job?”

Updated: Apr 24, 2022

Most actors are asked that question many times throughout their careers. It’s asked an awful lot more

when that actor is also not only a parent but a single parent. Despite the fact that most people think we

just ‘play’ for a living being an actor in the current climate is incredibly tough. Mainly because we are in

a saturated industry and there is always someone else who is just as talented as you are willing to work

longer hours for less money. For those of us with caring responsibilities this only adds to the problem.

The simple solution would be to walk away. To find this elusive ‘proper job’ everyone keeps telling me

about. But as an actor I have in my life done many jobs. Whatever we do or don’t do, working as a

single parent is always going to be a challenge. I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who told me

to do the thing I loved no matter what because life was too short not to. I want my son to grow up with

that same belief, that he can do whatever he wants to if he is prepared to work hard enough.

The first job I applied for after having my son was a theatre job. Low paid but enough to make it worth

the 1h 45 minute journey to rehearsals. The audition went incredibly well. So well in fact that I was

virtually offered the job on the spot. The director had even suggested we pop along to the venue to see

the space we’d be working in. On this walk the conversation turned to something which led me to

casually mention my son. I instantly felt the director bristle. “You never mentioned you were a

mother…” We had stopped walking by this point. “I’ve had trouble with mothers before.”

After that she suddenly remembered she had a few other people left to see and she would let me know

as soon as possible. Naturally I never heard from her again. Acting is one of those jobs where our

commitment to it should be above and beyond everything else in our lives.

The problem with this is that it means the people who make and are a part of the arts that we see are

only ever going to be the narrowest slice of the society in which we live. Theatre, film and television are

all at their best when we can see the whole of society reflected back at us. We need to hear the stories

of parents, of carers, people of colour, working class, LGBTQI+. We need to understand what it is like to

walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, the challenges we face and how we can all work together to make

our society better and fairer for everyone.

That’s why what SHE are doing is so important. By recognising that being inclusive means

understanding the different needs that people have they are able to make it so I am able to both work

with them and make sure my son is cared for. Providing a childcare subsidy means I can source and pay

for appropriate care. Finding childcare to wrap around school is hard enough but finding good reliable

care during school holidays can be a nightmare. I often end up paying around 50% of what I earn to

secure good childcare and I usually pay for it when I don’t need it to make sure I have a place when I do.

The way we work is changing, not just for actors but across the workplace so employers who can react

to that and help parents/carers are essential.

I’m thrilled that I can work with SHE again, but I’m especially pleased knowing how they are working to

make theatre more accessible for EVERYONE.


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