Here we go again — time to shine the spotlight on one of our favorite artists. This month's Featured Artist In Action is actress, writer, artistic director, and mom(!), Sandy Rustin. I've had the pleasure of knowing Sandy for many years, and let me tell you: she is one hard-working and talented lady! Sandy is proof-positive that having a family does not mean having to sacrifice your artistic career. A look at her credits reveals stints with the Upright Citizen's Brigade, a host of stage productions and TV guest spots, and her latest endeavor as the writer of the Off Broadway production, Rated P...For Parenthood. And, quite honestly, I think it's all just the tip of the iceberg for her. So, let's do what we do and turn things over to Sandy. 1) When you first started working with Capes Coaching, what were your goals?
I was struggling, as many new moms do, to find the balance between motherhood and career. I came to Capes Coaching for some guidance in figuring out how - and if - I could "have it all." I was surprised, after having kids, to learn that though I am completely nuts about my children and absolutely love being a mother, my motivation to have a full professional life in the theatre had not dwindled in the least. In fact, having children fueled my passion even more! Afterall, now I have these little people to teach to dream big and follow their dreams! I felt like I wanted — and even needed — to be modeling that sentiment in my own life.
2) What have you accomplished since then?
My goal was to find a balance between life as a mom and life in the theatre. Since meeting with Betsy, I somehow managed to completely merge those two things! I wrote a show, called Rated P...for Parenthood. It's a sketch comedy musical that I wrote with Dan Lipton & David Rossmer, about the joys and lunacy of raising kids. Next month, it is opening Off Broadway at the Westside Theatre! I'm beyond thrilled! I wrote this show during nap times and on the nights and weekends when my husband could watch my boys. I took my love of being a mom and turned it into theatre. I'm not sure I'll ever really find "balance" (is that really a thing parents can find?!?) - but this show is the closest I'll probably ever get!
3) What has been your biggest career challenge and how did you overcome it?
Honestly — childcare. I had a whole session with Betsy JUST on childcare! The stress of finding someone I could reliably trust plus managing the expense of it, was equating to me not really having a career at all! I learned to prioritize reliable childcare as a job requirement for me. If I was going to audition successfully, I had to know that my children were well cared for and I had time to do my hair. I booked my first Broadway play when my younger son was not quite 2. I had found a babysitter that the kids loved and that I trusted. I had gotten myself a job teaching improv — 1 day a week after school — that covered the expense of my childcare completely, so I eliminated my guilt about the expense of it! I was able to memorize my sides and put on my makeup. Knowing that my children are well cared for, allows me to focus on my work without stress or guilt. That has made all the difference in the world!
4) What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting out?
Nothing. I have enjoyed figuring this all out! (Well, actually it would have been nice to know that NO ONE POST PARTUM should EVER attend a Jerry Mitchell dance call — but other than that...really, nothing!) Seriously, it has been navigating this career without a map that has forced me to create my own opportunities and sort out my own path for myself.
5) What are you currently working on?
Rated P...for Parenthood and parenthood itself are my two big projects right now. I am fully consumed with both! And actually, I am also the Co-Artistic Director of Midtown Direct Rep, the theatre company that developed Rated P over this past year. We are in the midst of our second season, so I am also managing that! It's a busy time - but also tremendously exciting and satisfying.
6) Anything else you feel like sharing?
I feel like sharing a thank you to Betsy! I came to Betsy with pregnancy pounds and weepy eyes and she helped me to see that a professional life after children was attainable, manageable, and acceptable - so long as I was prepared to set myself up for the support I needed to succeed. My son was in the back seat of our cross-over vehicle (it is not a mini-van!) with his buddy, and his friend asked, "What does your mom do?" Isaac answered, "My mom sings in grocery stores." (see this video to understand his response) It was a perfect answer. Thank you Betsy for helping me to see that I can "sing in grocery stores" even with 2 little guys waiting for me at home!
Also — please come see Rated P...for Parenthood! Friends of Capes Coaching can use the code RPBUS44 for 50% off tickets purchased before February 29th! Previews begin February 8th! Click here for tickets and more info :)