Hi Anna-Marie! How do you find handling a successful and busy career with motherhood – where’s the balance?
It’s difficult, I definitely find it very difficult and I’m always kind of reassessing what’s important to me and things, like last week I filmed a music video so I was working constantly for two days and staying away for a night and I found that really hard. But I just tried to balance it out with family life, making sure that I had really good quality time with them the next day. And because it was half term, the next day I was with them the whole day and we went on an outing.
I just within my day to day have set things that are very important to me to do with my children and unless there’s an exceptional circumstance I stick to those things, like doing the school runs and bathing them and putting them to bed. I always make sure that I do those things.
You’re a mum-of-two - What has been the most difficult parenting skill for you to learn?
It changes all the time, as they’re getting older (laughs). I mean right now it’s definitely challenging, with all the sibling rivalry that is going on, to just keep everybody happy and not treat one child differently than the other when you’ve got one that’s older than the other and wants to do different things. So, yes I’m finding that quite challenging at the moment.
How are you handling that, are you big on discipline or quite laid back?
I would say it’s a mix. My son is the older one and it’s really his behaviour that’s more challenging because he is the older one, he’s the one that’s more aware of things. He doesn’t always want her [my daughter] to come in and play his games and that type of thing.
I am big on discipline but not in a heavy-handed way; we don’t really shout but we do always try and take him aside and talk to him and calm him down. We spend quite a lot time in L.A and they have quite a different approach out there to discipline and things and how they talk to children and the vocabulary they use. We’ve kind of adopted some of that, that we find works well.
And you decided to settle with your family in Hertfordshire over sunny LA – why was that and do you think you made the right decision?
It was led by the fact that both myself and my husband’s families are based in England. Once we had Jonah, he was ten months old when we moved back, we just really felt like we wanted to be around all our family, and we wanted to have the grandparents get to know their grandchildren and also it would give us babysitters (laughs). But it was all led by family. If our family were happy to move then we might consider warmer climates (laughs).
Where are you going to be spending Christmas – will it be L.A or Hertfordshire?
On the outside it seems that a lot of actors have it all but then you see marriages crumbling and things, it’s the ones who actually manage to keep a balance of everything that I admire
It will be Hertfordshire at my mums. We all go over there, all the family, and have a really good get together.
And you have a Youtube Channel - It’s Me, Anna-Marie - how did the idea for the channel come up?
It came about because this time last year we did go back to L.A with the whole family for a few months, just to pursue some things on the acting front. But while I was there I went in to have a meeting with some people at Maker Studios, which is one of the leading YouTube networks that produce content for YouTube, and they had just been given investment money by YouTube themselves to create some channels for mums. And when I went in they suggested that I might like to do that being an actress and also a mum and it kind of just went from there.
You have been married for 10 years now - for all the parents out there - what’s your secret?
(Laughs) Oh my secret. I mean, we really are each other’s best friends. We just really communicate with each other, like we’ll never go to bed angry at each other, we’ll talk through anything, and especially since having children we really do make an effort to still have time for just two of us. So, we do try and stick to having a date night every week, but just really continuing to communicate.
And as you both are growing and your careers are developing, I mean we’re lucky that we’re in similar professions; he’s a producer, so we have a lot in common, to find things that you have in common, as you’re growing and changing so you don’t kind of go in different directions.
How would you describe your parenting style?
We definitely have a routine on a day-to-day basis. At the weekends we relax on that but day-to-day I think it helps everybody to have a general routine.
What’s more challenging – being an actress on stage or a full-time mother at home?
A full-time mum I would say (laughs). Being a mum, it’s 24-hours-a-day and it never stops, and that’s an amazing things but it’s also hard to make sure you still do have a bit of time for yourself. And also, all their safety and everything is down to you, and I think that’s something I didn’t expect before I had children – the overwhelming love and protectiveness, and everything you feel.
I know that I feel, even when I’m not with them, I still feel like I’m with them – if that makes sense. So, it’s not that I’ll go off to work and forget about them, they’re kind of still with me in my consciousness, whatever I do.
What’s the best parenting advice you’ve been given – and who from?
I’m trying to think of one thing because I’ve picked up so many little things, as you go along. I mean, definitely seeing my mum, there are four of us children, and seeing how she handles that. I have a much younger brother too; I was a teenager when he was born, so I did get a first-hand of the realities of having children. So, I think she has probably been my best example.
What’s the best parenting advice you can give?
I would just say trust your own instincts and trust how you feel. And don’t try and slip into anyone else’s idea of doing anything. Just really try and go with your instinct.
Which celebrity mums do you admire?
There are lots of celebrity mums, for me, I definitely look up to some actresses that are also mums who seem to have an amazing career and also an amazing home-life, because I know that, that’s something really difficult to do. On the outside it seems that a lot of actors have it all but then you see marriages crumbling and things, it’s the ones who actually manage to keep a balance of everything that I admire.
Give us your one top parenting product for our readers…
I definitely love the Ergobaby carrier; I actually featured it on one of my episodes, because that is my most-loved baby product of all time. Not only is it so comfortable and so easy to put on but also they have this great little shield that can come over the top of the baby’s head, like a little blackout, which is perfect if you want them to nap on-the-go, and perfect for aeroplanes and things like that. I definitely think it’s a lifesaver with travelling.
And you support a number of charity campaigns too, including Bliss Baby, why is charity work so important to you?
Well Bliss in particular is very important to me because my little girl was born nine weeks early, so bliss champions the cause of babies that are born early; premature babies. So, that one is just something that touched me personally. In fact it’s World Prematurity Day coming up on November 17, so that’s something I’m supporting.
And you’re starring as Liam Neeson’s love interest in the War of the Worlds arena tour – what is it like performing on stage alongside such a household name as Liam Neeson?
It was amazing. My role and his role are actually done with cutting-edge technology so that we have filmed our parts already and we both appear as holograms. So I got to film with him, which was absolutely amazing. I definitely look up to him as an actor but he was also such a lovely man and a really generous actor; he stayed on set for all my close-ups, which you don’t have to do, but he did. It was a really great experience and he is as nice as he seems.
Will you be going to see one of the shows and is it not strange to see yourself as a hologram on stage?
It will be weird (laughs). The show’s toured lots of times before and I’ve always been in the same role but previously I wasn’t a hologram, I was in all film scenes in a 100ft screen at the back, and so I’m actually really excited to see this hologram because I have no idea what it’s going to look like.
Do you ever get starstruck – and who is the most famous person you’ve ever met?
I wouldn’t say I get start struck, just because, growing up, my grandfather was an actor and my dad’s in the music business, so I was always around artists. I mean there are definitely a lot of actors, including Liam Neeson, he would definitely be one, where it’s more nerve-racking to get to act with them but I don’t kind of go giggly or anything (laughs).
I would love to work with someone like Kate Winslet or Cate Blanchett as well actually – just really fantastic actors.
Finally, what’s coming up for you in 2013?
Definitely carrying on with my YouTube channel. We’ve been working really hard with the programming, so there’s going to be the same show but tweaked in a lot of different ways, which will start airing, probably next week actually. I’ll be filming again next week for the first show of 2013 and I’ll still be involved with sort of whatever happens with The War of the Worlds and then just auditioning for new and upcoming acting projects.
Visit Anna-Marie’s online parenting channel ‘It’s Me, Anna-Marie’ at www.youtube.com/ItsMeAnnaMarie
Anna-Marie stars as Carrie in ‘The War of The Worlds’ arena tour starting November 29th at The Dublin o2 Arena, then tours across the UK in December. For venues, dates and tickets visit: www.thewaroftheworlds.com
Shabana Adam @Shabs_A