Mindset & Personal Growth

‘How do you do it?’: 3 pillars of mama-actor success

How do you do it?



I’ve had a lot of people approach me recently to ask, “How do you do it?”


After fumbling some half-assed answer on two separate occasions, much to the dismay of the poor women seeking support, I sat down to craft a more thoughtful answer. I grabbed my kid’s crayons and construction paper and whipped up a slightly sad-looking but accurate infographic chart drawing thing (it’s stunning, I know)…




I thought my lifelines would be things like date nights, health insurance, and a great bottle of wine, but what ended up emerging was more foundational (though date nights, wine and health insurance are nice too).


Here are the pillars of my life that have allowed me to have clarity and vitality around my work and career and family. I realized that I have a pretty great life, and if this helps a new mama out there raise herself out of the ashes of Butt Paste and puke, I will have done my job here.

Pillar #1: Tribe

When I polled the mama actors in our TMA Facebook group about the one piece of advice they would give to a young actress who wants to be a mom someday, the unanimous response was, “Choose the right partner”. This is absolutely, bottom-line, vital. Like, even more fundamental than the three pillars I’m discussing here.


But beyond that one person who will make or break your parenting experience, a dynamic, well-rounded tribe is essential.


Inner tribe

Your inner tribe is like your inner, inner circle of soul-love. Your partner + kids + close family & soul sisters. I hope I don’t have to tell you why the inner tribe is important.


Outer tribe

Your outer tribe is made of all the people that you bring into your life that simply help shit work better. They may not be soul sisters, but they will watch your kids when you have a last minute audition. They may not have held your hair while you puked in college, but they will help you tape an audition or give you advice about your agent. You might pay them in exchange for their services and that is 100% okay.


Here is a partial list of my outer tribe: my babysitting co-op, my career coach, my neighbors, my agents, my theatre company, The Mama Actor Facebook group, my accountability partner, my Women in Film mentoring circle, the casting directors who know me, the Starbucks guy who knows I like a splash of heavy whipping cream in my coffee. In short, the vast network of connection that weaves together the threads of my life.


Part two of creating your outer tribe is knowing that you know them. Here’s what I mean: We take for granted the vast network of people that undergirds and enriches our human experience on this planet. Recognizing the breadth of my outer tribe makes me feel supported and connected and set up for success. This awareness in turn lowers my anxiety, fuels my ambition, and frees my creativity. See? Know who they are, and then know that you know.


Pillar #2: Purpose & Vision

Technically vision and purpose are two different things, but I didn’t have room on the green construction paper for another pillar so I combined them. I see my purpose as the thread that connects all the parts of my life, the thing that runs underneath everything I do. Most people trace their purpose back to a deep and early formative experience or condition, and this has been true for me as well.


As a multi-racial girl growing up in the time and place that I did, the feeling of belonging was something I struggled with deeply and continuously. For me it went beyond the sense of isolation that most kids experience at some point or another. It was a biological certainty that my DNA meant that I would never belong anywhere, not even with my own parents. This feeling of fundamental disconnection forged the core of my purpose: to increase true belonging, acceptance, and community in the world, and to decrease isolation, conformity, and separation. This purpose guides how I raise my children, how I operate in the entertainment industry, how I engage in my community.


While my purpose won’t change anytime soon, my living vision is more fluid and changing. It’s basically a document that describes my vision for all areas of my life–career, creativity, family, marriage, spirituality. It’s a specific, 5 sense picture of how I want to experience life moment to moment, day to day, across the various domains of my life.


What’s really behind the living vision is a sense of agency. A feeling that I can make my life whatever I want it to be, so why not design it on purpose? It makes me feel powerfully creative and in charge. Like the boss lady of my own life.


Pillar #3: Practice


The essence of practice boils down to choosing to invest in 2 things: habit over motivation, and growth over perfectionism.

Choose habit over motivation, growth over perfectionism. Click To Tweet


I’m so over striving. I was a striver for a long time. I lived with a vague sense of anxiety underlying all of my experiences, the feeling that I should somehow be better or further along. It’s bullshit, mama. It’s the Koolaid of the Ivy League.


Practice means movement, perfection means stagnation. Practice means that dissatisfaction & happiness can co-exist, that I can be happily, blissfully, gratefully dissatisfied. The commitment to a practice-based mindset as opposed to a perfection-based mindset allows for contradiction, layers, complexity, humanity. It allows me to love where I am at the same time that I am working to deepen my marriage, develop more patience, and expand my creative expression. It is bigger than striving, bigger than waiting for inspiration, bigger than setting goals and benchmarks.


Practice allows. Practice accepts. Practice does not wait to be motivated. Practice is. Practice does. Practice means I can fuck up and succeed at the same time, and I’m all in favor of that.



I hope that’s a more complete answer to “How do you do it?” than I was able to provide to the poor moms I recently met. What are your foundational pillars that support your ability to thrive? How do you do it, mama? Share in the comments here on the blog or in the TMA Facebook group.




Interview: Kristine Oller on Mastermind Groups for Mama Actors



If there’s one thing all parents can agree on, it’s that becoming a parent changes your life. For some, this change is easy, and for others of us, not so much.


Enter Kristine Oller, who has the best job title ever–Change Strategist. Kristine works with creative professionals (she was an actor for 10 years herself) to guide them through the process of change. I’ve followed Kristine’s work for years and when I found out she was starting a Mastermind Group designed specifically for actor parents, I had to find out more.

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Lessons from the Ladies of Mom 2.0 (part 1 of 2)

Mom 2.0 Summit 2016 Dana Point, CA


I got to attend the last day of Mom 2.0 this year, the premier annual conference for mom bloggers. There were thousands of bloggers, brands, mompreneurs, influencers, and social media gurus, most of them moms.


This year’s conference was at the Four Season in Laguna Niguel. It was a gorgeous location, lots of pampering, free swag, and a great catered lunch.


So good! My massage therapist was a hapa mama too--we bonded.

So good! My massage therapist was a hapa mama too–we bonded.


But what I got from the day was more than just a free bra and a foot massage. These lady business folk had A LOT of knowledge that applies equally to pursuing an acting career and being a parent. In fact there was so much knowledge dropped that I had to break it up into two parts to make it more absorbable. Here’s lesson number 1…

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Social media for the mama actor

with Dallas Travers-3

Dallas shares her thoughts on the social media challenges unique to actor mamas.

As actors, it is increasingly part of our job to share our lives and our work with friends and fans on social media in an authentic and genuine way. Many actor mamas (myself included) struggle with navigating social media in a conscious way that balances the desire to connect and engage with the desire to protect their children and their privacy.


Enter Dallas Travers. Dallas is a creative career coach for actors, and quite frankly, she’s amazing. I’m so impressed by the poise and authenticity she brings to her work of helping actors find clarity and courage to take ownership of their careers. I had the opportunity to sit down with Dallas, who is a new mom herself, to explore some of the social media challenges that are specific to the mama actor experience. Here’s the cliff notes from our convo:

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[TMA Recommends] Meditation for the mama actor


The thing about meditation is, you become more and more you. –David Lynch

The benefits of meditation are so well documented by now that you’d have to be living under a rock to say you’ve never thought about trying it out, but sometimes it just feels like one more thing you should be doing. And then you feel inadequate and totally non-zen, and like if you could just get it together to meditate for 5 minutes a day your life would completely change. Right?

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Are we all narcissists, or is it just me?

The hilarious, narcissistic chickens of Doug Savage.

The narcissistic chickens of Doug Savage.

Confession #1: I subscribe to goop.


As in Gwyneth Paltrow’s email newsletter thingy. Yes, the collaborations are often laughable (thanks, GP, but I’m not spending $795 on a jumpsuit), but the interviews are quite good. She recently interviewed Dr. Robin Berman in an article entitled The Legacy of a Narcissistic Parent, which brings me to…


Confession #2: I might be a narcissist.

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