facilitator - Roundhouse London📍Newham council
MILF’ing since ‘17
raised on pop tarts and Lauryn Hill.
Supporter of women. ❤️
“I’m pregnant!” I will never forget the look of confusion, mixed with slight panic, in the eyes of my fellow actresses as I made my announcement. I was at a private screening for a short film a college of mine had produced and I was happy to see quite a few within the industry that I knew.
“Do the agency know? They’re not going to like it just warning you.”
Not quite the reaction I was expecting. The panic set in. I was 5 months pregnant and not showing yet. I already had some anxiety about what my post baby body would be like and how long it would take me to be able to get back to auditioning. As a woman we’re constantly told by everything around us we’re just not good enough as we are, and that pressure is tenfold when you’re an actress. We want a women for this role that’s super talented but that also looks great on screen, we want you to be pretty, but not too pretty, skinny, sexy but not too sexy, authentic but not TOO real - (I mean we want to see a BIT of vulnerability but no one wants to see you have a genuine melt down about something that’s important to you Susan, that would just make people feel UNCOMFORTABLE and we certainly wouldn’t want that )
It’s one of the few industries out their where employers are actually allowed to politely tell you you’re too old for the job or just don’t have the right “look.” I felt the pressure of all this before but I never was actually too fussed about being overly skinny, I always stayed between a UK size 10 - 12 but pregnancy sent my brain into overdrive. I was in an unhappy relationship and the thought of being a new mum and losing a career that I loved on top of all that seemed like too much to bear. I started spending hours on the internet researching how long will it take to get my body back, how to hide a bump, working mum success stories, meal plans while breast feeding, top 5 tummy wraps, snapback body stories, how to still have energy with a new-born. After reading some disconcerting stories in mum chat rooms my google search changed. Effects of depression during pregnancy. Will my baby be born unhappy? How to know if you will suffer will post-natal depression. Top 10 signs you might get post-natal depression. I tried my hardest to put the thoughts out of my mind. At 6 months pregnant I was powering through a theatre show but My morning sickness was out of control I felt awful. My son’s dad begged me to stop. It was an all-female cast and I’d worked with the director before and she told me it was completely fine if I needed to drop out. However, I’d already worked out that if I did the performance at 7 months and then recovered quickly there wouldn’t be a massive gap in my CV. I flaunted my pregnancy to my friends and family but kept it a secret from my agent and employers. I remember going to an audition for a part in a bbc drama and hid my belly under a baggy top because I didn’t have the courage to say , “no, I can’t audition for this because I’m 7 months pregnant and if you hire me I’d most likely be giving birth on the floor of the set.”
Then the inevitable happened. I woke up one morning and BOOM. There it was. My son had moved from growing in my hips to full blown baby belly and no amount of clever fashion trickery was going to hide it. An audition came through (shockingly it was not for a programme or theatre show that needed an emotionally charged, heavily pregnant women that forgets where the hell she’s supposed to be going mid journey) so instead of drop everything and run to the audition like actors are expected to do I had to admit I was pregnant. But not just any old pregnant no no! I had to admit I was super-duper pregnant with bells on about to give birth any day now (I wish I could have been a fly on that wall) but it was fine. Nothing happened and the world didn’t come crashing down around me. I was proud of what I’d achieved during those months. I’d bonded with the growing baby in my belly at that point and I was just excited to meet him. A few days after my due date my son was born, my birth was straight forward I felt stronger than I’d ever been. All my fears of depression dissolved. My relationship completely broke down and I found myself alone with a tiny baby for the most part, but I knew everything was going to be okay.
I think Tighe was 3 weeks old when I got the email to say my agency was scaling down and they were letting me go, but best of luck in future. I felt deflated at first, I knew I could put myself forward for stuff on my own but I didn’t have time for that, I was a single mum now with a new born and I just wanted to be with my son. Then something amazing happened. I started to get messages from friends and people I’d worked with in the past, “Are you still acting? I’ve got an audition for you! I’d think you’d be great for this part / I’ve put your name forward for this...”
Tighe was four months old when I had my first day back on set of a short film and I felt great. I went on to be cast in a play with a company that had the budget to pay for my childcare and I got to bring Tighe on tour with me, he wasn’t even one yet! Most recently I did a one woman show and found out I’ve been nominated for Best Female Performance in a Play for 2020. Even just to be nominated goes to show how the industry is changing for mothers.
Yes, in the acting world a lot of these spaces are still run by middle aged white men that don’t get it and seeing an actress for a part with a family is a burden to them. Yes, it’s not still plain sailing at the moment, I still have inappropriate things said to me at auditions, I’ve lost jobs and opportunities because of my son. But there is also a revolution happening - women are refusing to audition for unrealistic two-dimensional parts, companies are offering childcare budgets for actors with children, women are writing work about abortion, motherhood, depression, and more and more places are putting these story’s on stage and on screen. I might not win the award I’ve been put forward for but as a single mum of a 2 year old it just goes to show if we keep pushing, keep sharing our stories and supporting each other, we will be seen, we will be heard, because we deserve to be here and be celebrated even after becoming someone’s mum.
BY KELLY MULLANE AKA https://citymumblog.wordpress.com
So I called this blog ‘City Mum’ because I’m a mum and I work in the City. To be honest, I don’t work in the City as such….my office is in Canary Wharf really. I do work for one of those giant financial institutions (although mine had nothing to do with the credit crisis…promise!) and I’ve been in this world for 8 years now. Before joining the universe of corporate policies and multiple computer screens, I was in the Army. I served for 7 years, I went to Iraq (twice) as well as other places, and although I was by no means the toughest mutha in the platoon (I wasn’t married nor a mum at that point and most of my old Army buddies will remember me as the chubby (okay, fat) jolly bird who was good at languages (I was an interpreter), I was pretty resilient in my own way – I achieved a bunch of stuff, made it to the rank of Captain and was pretty self-confident despite not looking fabulous in uniform (but let’s face it, only the very lucky ones do)).But then came the day that I decided to have a go in the ‘real world’. I uploaded my CV onto a load of websites and got a call a few weeks later from a retired Infantry Major who wanted to know whether I was interested in a role in the ‘City’. My first question was ‘which city?” (I kid you not!) And then once I had been thoroughly patronized, I stuck on my M&S suit, polished my sensible shoes and headed to St Paul’s to learn all about Investment Banking and how I had ‘transferable’ skills aplenty that these giant conglomerates would lap up in spades! And do you know what? They did!!Five roles in three different companies later, a fabulous female mentor or two (my first boss in the City was an incredible woman who taught me all about fabulous shoes and that civvies were all shit and wouldn’t do what I asked – even if I asked nicely)* I am now a slimmer (stress, coffee, a variety of crap, sawdust-based soup diets and then finally being sensible at slimming world!) and more stylish (much better wages and better shopping opportunities) version of that Army girl. I still like being in charge, I don’t like being questioned and watch yourself if you undermine me in any way (Immi and Ted don’t seem to understand this yet). I crack on with tasks – often not bothering to think about the wider strategic picture (Ooh how I remember the Combat Estimate – as long as my two-up boss has given me the steer, I know what I need to do – why do I need to check with absolutely everyone and their managers?! Oooooh, decisions by committee…what fun! FFS!)So what’s it like as a mum in the City? I have literally no time – as mentioned in all my early blog, I’m still in a minority group and I’m often the only woman in the meeting. Oh and I’m not paid as much as my male colleagues but that’s all starting to change. There are lots of women’s networks discussing women breaking through those glass ceilings, corporate policies, important business ideas and preparing for the next generations to join us in the workplace and nothing like how the old boys, desperate to hold on to the power, refer to us. No, we are not knitting groups! Christ, my bra literally self-ignited after hearing that little gem recently! But to honest, I’m much the same as any other working mum – I prepare my work outfit the night before (who has time to hunt for that other earring?!), I scrape food off my shoulders before getting to the office, I’m always surgically connected to my mobile in case school or our childminder (Mary Poppins) calls. I leave the office early even though I’ll be working much later that everyone else and I need a ‘mummy pass’ to join in with the office drinks on a Thursday night (thanks to the long-suffering bearded one who never says no!). I like being a City mum – I don’t always like my job but coming home to my little rays of sunshine is always the best welcome home ever. And I always hold on to the fact that although a lot of these City-types think they’re masters of the universe, they haven’t really experienced much outside this bubble of a world – and I’ve definitely got one or two up on them there!* She didn’t mean all civvies – only some of them! And she didn’t actually say ‘civvies’ – she said ‘people’ but at the time, ‘civvies’ is what I heard!
Clockwise from top left: Aisha Carrington; Rebecca Walker; Leila Fataar; Katy Worwood; Caroline Watson; Rima Theisen; Founder of Mothers Meeting, Jenny Scott; Carrie Anne Roberts
‘Mothers Meeting is a collective, a community, a welcoming space for women, because motherhood is hard. When you wake up and feel really sad for no reason, even though you’ve got a healthy child, only another mother could understand that. So, it’s really important to have a platform where you can vent, whether it’s how you didn’t sleep the night before, or because you’ve got a business idea and don’t know how to make it happen. Having that group of women around you – who are ready to listen and give you feedback – empowers mothers to be the best version of themselves.
‘The idea for Mothers Meeting came from my heart. It wasn’t about making money, it was
about making friends. I gave birth to my first baby, Sonny, when I was 28, and had no idea
that having a child would change anything. I didn’t realise motherhood would be so hard,
or that I’d be so lonely. So, I thought, I’ve got to do something about this. I looked in Time Out
for an exhibition that I wanted to go to, but knew if I just said I was going, I’d end up watching The Jeremy Kyle Show in my pyjamas and feeling sorry for myself. So, because I’m a graphic designer, I designed a poster [inviting others] to go to the exhibition and put it on social media. Then I had to go, in case someone else turned up. One person came to the first one, and that was the beginning of Mothers Meeting. I started a blog and it grew organically; [it seemed there were] more and more women who wanted to be mums, but also didn’t want it to be the end of their lives.
‘Mothers Meeting has been my saviour; it’s like my fourth child. I’ve got three children:
Sonny is nine, Jasmine is five and Sky is two, and each time I’ve had a newborn, I’ve found
motherhood lonely in different ways. When Jasmine was eight months old and Sonny was
five, their dad cheated on me and left, so Mothers Meeting became my best friend in
a way, and it has changed and evolved with me. ‘We’ve hosted more than 500 Mothers
Meeting events now. We have our meet-ups for Soho House members, we do events for brands
from Netflix to Estée Lauder, and we have an online group with about 200 members. It’s full
of so many different types of women.
One of the things I was really psyched about before
I had my first baby, was meeting people who worked in different jobs beyond the industry
that I was operating in. As a graphic designer working in streetwear, I was going to the same
type of events and talking to the same kind of people. I was so excited that I’d be able to sit in
a room with lawyers and estate agents and people from all different walks of life when I
had a baby. I think a lot of mum groups are very white and very middle class, but Mothers
Meeting has always been diverse. Our Instagram [page] is full of quotes you can relate
to, whatever your age or background. I try to find our common ground.
‘We’re all here to inspire and support each other; to watch these women grow together is
just amazing. Mothers Meeting gives so many women a springboard. Loads of mums have
come to me and said they’d really like to do a talk about a certain subject, then that talk has
been seen by [someone from] a publishing company. More than 20 women have launched
books off the back of attending our events. ‘Honesty is really important in building
a community. When you have a baby and meet people, it’s always, “How are you doing?” “Great!” Because for that split second, you are alright. But when I introduce Mothers Meeting events, I’m always like, “I’m really grateful for you being here today because, no matter what type of mum you are, whether you work full time or stay at home, it’s really hard.” I want everyone in Mothers Meeting to feel like they’re on an equal footing; all the speakers at the events that we put on talk in a way that’s accessible. It might be a highbrow subject, but we always make it digestible. ‘How do you build a family out of a group of strangers? Talk from your heart. I think that’s really important. There’s so much bullshit out there these days – as soon as people feel like you are being real, it gives them licence to drop their guard. I try to pair people up, knowing who’s doing what and who would get on with who. I’ve done that since I was a kid; my mum used to say I was like the Pied Piper. I love
bringing everyone together, I get a thrill from introducing people to one another.’