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How to… balance family life as an actor

Will Smith and Jada Pinkett Smith with their children Jaden and Willow in 2009. Photo: Shutterstock.com
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1. Enjoy the days

There are some advantages to being an actor and a parent – one is that you get to spend the days with your children when you’re performing in the evenings. You’ve got a variable schedule – so make the most of times when most nine to five-ers are busy.

2. Ask for what you need

Talking to the director in rehearsals and highlighting any childcare issues early on should allow them to plan. This can be daunting (depending on the director) but many directors are parents themselves, and the rest should have some understanding. We need to get to a place culturally where asking is not frowned upon.

3. Check what facilities there are

When your agent negotiates your contract, you can ask what facilities the company has. While it is still depressingly rare, there are companies that can provide creche facilities, and other support mechanisms – so find out what is on offer.

4. Have a strong support network

Children aren’t just brought up by families, they’re brought up by communities, and this is especially true for actors. There are a number of support organi-sations and social media groups giving informal help. I’ve spent the occasional hour wheeling a pram around Soho to allow a friend to pop in for a casting – use your friends, we love to help if we can.

5. Involve your children in work

You have a great job – let your children in on it. Katie Mitchell has directed a number of children’s plays in order to include her child in her work. If you are able to create work that your young one can engage with, then that’s a wonderful gift for both.

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