Having it all: Making being a parent and being an actor work

by Emma Manton: 10 July 2015

In 2010 my son was born and my life changed forever. As I came blinking into the light after the firsts few intense, sleep-deprived months and took stock of the new world it quickly became clear to me that I wanted him to be part of my theatre world and that the idea of giving it up was unthinkable. So I took a look around and realised very quickly that the usual channels of childcare used by my new non-theatre parent friends – nannies, nurseries, childminders – were not going to work. Then it gradually started to occur to me that I had another great resource at my fingertips. My friends. My lovely, open-minded, fun, adaptable friends collected from my years hopping from job to job in the theatre. Friends who were often available at short notice and at strange hours. Friends who needed the ad-hoc cash as much as I needed the ad-hoc childcare.

So I posted on Facebook and sent texts and, before long, had a group of people who my son knew and was happy to see. They would push a buggy round a park whilst I went to an audition – come and hold my sleeping baby whilst I performed in a reading on a boat on the Thames – even came to Denmark for a week to take him to the beach whilst I rehearsed. An actor friend moved into our spare room, providing us with an extra bit of cash and an impromptu babysitter. They helped me to keep my career moving through the exciting and unsettling time of negotiating a career in the theatre whilst having a family and then when, 18 months later, I got a job with the RSC in Stratford-upon-Avon, we were able to settle for a while. It is possible to have a career as an actor and also a life as a mum. We are creative people and, with creative solutions, it is possible to have it all. Our greatest asset is each other and, if it does take a village to raise a child, the wonderful business we share is a great place to start creating a village of your own.

Emma can be seen in ‘Confusions’ directed by Alan Ayckbourn at the Stephen Joseph Theatre in Scarborough as part of the celebrations for the theatre’s 60th year.

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