The conclusion to An Interview With Sarah Adams that was published last week.
Emily: So, are you auditioning for parts as a pregnant person? (Editors Note: this interview took place before Sarah gave birth to her beautiful son) Has there been any effect on your acting and directing, like, have you experienced any push back? Like Ali Wong talked in her stand-up about how she told her friends “I’m gonna get pregnant!” and they basically all said “But you’re doing so well!”
Sarah: [laughs] Oh, yeah, that’s great. So, pregnancy has been interesting with what I do for a living. Um, it was a fear of mine, no one gave it to me, but it was a fear of mine like, “Oh, I’m gonna die out overnight, for eleven months no one’s gonna hear from me”, but it wasn’t that way! I remember when I got pregnant, the first people I told were my parents, my family, and then the next day went to my agent like, “Hey guys…so here’s something fun that just happened.” And they were so supportive! Now again, I’m blessed with an agency that is women-run and operated, and they’re badass chicks. This is not their first rodeo with actresses that get pregnant. Like, you can procreate! It’s fine! But we did decide that we weren’t going to make it public for awhile, because once it’s known that you’re pregnant, casting directors automatically think that at eight weeks I’d look the same as eight months, which is not true.
I booked quite a bit at the beginning. Sidebar for those of you who are actors who do get pregnant: doing fittings when you’re hiding your pregnancy, especially for me, was a nightmare. Because you don’t look necessarily bigger, but you’re bloated. You don’t have a cute baby bump, you’re just BLEGH. You feel like you just ate a cheeseburger and you’re hungover, and you look weird, and you go into fittings and no one knows you’re pregnant so you’re like, "Let’s do a bigger size! Maybe something looser, no reason.” So, that was an interesting learning experience, but I booked a lot. Then an opportunity came up, Octoberish, and they specifically asked for real people, or actors who had a point of view. In the casting note they said, "You can be a guitar player, or pregnant, or whatever,” and I emailed my agent and said “Hey, I saw I can be pregnant. Can I be pregnant in the audition?” and she was like “Yeah girl!” And I booked it! And it was all because of my “bit”, which is my baby, so that was a surprise, like “I get to be on set as a pregnant person, I don’t have to hide my bump,” and then I booked another role with Ford as a pregnant woman. So, now the opportunities are still coming in, but it has to be for a pregnant person, or real people, or just someone who doesn’t care, like, “Oh, you’re pregnant? Great.” Those jobs are out there, more so for commercial work than for TV. But it’s an interesting place, because I didn’t know what was going to happen. Like people act weird about pregnant women sometimes, but it’s weird in a good way. Like I had a casting director tell me one time, "Oh I bet you book a whole lot because you’re pregnant! People love pregnant women for commercials.” And it was true! It’s been a lovely balance of being able to work and being able to take care of myself. But it was scary because I didn’t know what was going to happen.
Emily: Final question: what is the difference in your mindset being in a director role and being on set when someone else is directing?
Sarah: Oh man, that’s a great question. They work together really well. Where I am with what I’ve been able to produce, most recently direct, all credit goes to my time on set as an actress. Because through that, I’ve been able to meet amazing crew and all these talented people that you’re getting to know on set, networking, making friends with people. Those friendships make Dallas feel much smaller, which is nice. It’s a slow burn, like with Supporting Roles I sent the script over to a friend of mine who directed it, and he brought his own amazing crew that I now know and get to work with. With Supporting Roles, I wanted to write the kind of role that I wasn’t getting auditions for. If no one’s going to put it there for me, why would I wait for someone to do that when I could do that on my own? And again, the purpose there was to fill that creative avenue, but it became bigger than we imagined. We got into film festivals and raised money, and it gave me that spark to do more producing, more writing.
So, Maggie and I started the Monthly Junk in 2015. It just started out with us improvising. It eventually grew into The Service Elevator, which we wrote and produced and acted in it. We both took more of the back-end work, hiring crew, etc, and I now knew all these great people I loved to work with. From there, when we started writing Civic Duty, it became even bigger, and we brought in producers we met along the way, who were able to help get people paid on set. That was the first time that I was like,“Okay Maggie, I think I want to direct this.” And for me to say that out loud, to be like “Am I allowed to say that yet? Can I pull it off? I didn’t go to school for directing because I tried to but didn’t graduate.” I just had an idea, and Maggie supported it, and we wrote it, and she supported me directing it. So, many amazing people that I’ve met along this journey supported this amazing idea that I had, even financially supported it, so it wasn’t just me.
And, with acting, it all started just with me auditioning, so I could be in this place. When six years ago Sarah, 2012, thought about her goals, she thought, “I want to be on TV, do comedy, blah blah blah,” but now, through time and finding out what I really love - now I’m like, “Oh I really enjoy this process of creating something out of nothing, developing it, writing it with somebody, and then getting people to believe in it, and then the process on set, this beautiful conglomeration of creative talent that can make something really cool. I love that bit – it geeks me out!" I love the work it takes, I love that I can feel both sides of my brain. With Civic Duty, I wondered a little if I was going to miss being on camera, but I loved seeing the actors come together, and do better things, and say better things that I didn’t write! We had an amazing cast of people.
I’m not giving up acting and auditioning. It’s so much fun, but it’s also how I make my money, and how I provide. Which feels weird to say, but that’s what I do!
So, it’s working hand in hand. One’s giving me this opportunity to be on set, meet new people, work as often as I can, and provide, while the other one is doing something very similar, but in a very different way. I don’t know if I’m ever going to make money from writing and directing and producing, but I’m okay with it because I love doing it so much. I’ve learned over the past few years from doing improv that I shouldn’t ever put a limit or a band around what I think it could be. It’s gonna be what it is, and that’s a really cool place for me to be in right now. It’s been a really long process of getting to this place, and doing everything you love and trusting that you’re enough. So I’m excited, and it’s only been six years! And thank god for improv, because if I hadn’t gotten into that, I would still be at that place at the beginning, frustrated, like why isn’t this working? That’s why it’s so important when looking at getting an agent to say, “What do I want to do? At this point in time, why do I want to make this a profession? What do I want to get out of it?”
Something I keep telling myself is something that someone else told me early on: it’s a marathon. We’re not sprinting towards anything. This industry isn’t going to go away, it’s going to evolve and change, but you don’t have to worry about missing your chance. Like I’m a big believer in you’re not gonna miss your chance, you’re gonna be there, you’re gonna be ready, life’s gonna prepare you for whatever it is.
Emily Ball is a writer, improviser, and stand-up comedian based out of Dallas, TX. She likes to spend her free time looking at pictures of horses and prying dangerous objects out of her dog's mouth. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram at @emmballs.