A long time ago, I was a performer. I don’t really talk about it much. For me it feels like it was a completely different life. Plus, I don’t think I ever really liked being labelled an “actress”. Now, some of that was ego. I did pretty well, got great reviews, but I never got that
really “big” show. Why? Because I was always up against Melissa Thompson, and she always got the job.
It actually became ridiculous after a while. I remember being called back 5 times for the role of Belle in the Canadian premier of Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. That means I went in 6 times and belted my way through “Belle”, poured my heart out in “Home”, coyed it up in “Something There”. It took them that long to tell me I was 2 inches too tall. “You’re really great Racheal, but Belle has to be under 5’3″. We’re going to go with Melissa.” So while she was gracing main stages, I was hamming it up in stock. Sad thing is, I couldn’t hate her -she was fantastic. Sure, I could begrudge her a bit…
Fast forward 8 years. Now we’re both moms, she’s co-starring in a show with my hubby, and we became friends. Strange world, isn’t it.
We recently caught up between school runs and the question I’d been dying to ask her wasn’t “why didn’t you ever take a vacation so the rest of us could work”, it was “how are you balancing a stage career with being a mom?”
Melissa thoughtfully responded. “I would say that the only challenge is that of scheduling. You know this; it’s the splitting of your focus. The dropping off and picking up. The time your babysitter is late or cancelling. Once you make your destination, you can relax…but only for so long, because the responsibility of the kids is always on your mind. You can never fully disconnect.
And let’s be honest, I’m not really pursuing huge shows or jobs, because I need to focus more on the kids while they are young. I just haven’t managed to figure out, how to make it work for me, for us. I just don’t need the chaos.
However, the best thing is that, the work really does take second place, and therefore on a
deeper level, I don’t stress and obsess about it anymore. It’s made me happier, and more balanced…and because of that I book more work. I guess we all just have to do the best we can. Honesty and commitment goes a long way.
Yes, it does.
Before we both rush off to pick up our kids, I ask Melissa about one more thing. Princesses.
She laughs as she says “I must confess that I have played a lot of them. As long as the Princess is a smart girl first, I have less to complain about. The new Princesses offer an updated role model for girls. I’m not really sure how to take it to the next level, so that the girl can save herself, and buy her own castle…Racheal! You’re a writer, get to work on that!”
Maybe I should.