Actress Sarah Jayne Dunn on International Women's Day, Motherhood and her superpower!
Happy International Women’s Day ladies! Here at Bloomsbury Mill HQ, we believe International Women’s Day is a day to celebrate ALL women, their achievements and successes both personally, and professionally, their dedication, leadership, and rights to live in an inclusive society.
To mark International Women’s Day 2023 we sat down with Actress and Bloomsbury Mill Fan, Sarah Jayne Dunn, where we discussed everything from how she started out in the industry to juggling a successful career and motherhood and what International Women’s Day really means to her.
Q: Tell us a little more about yourself and how you started your acting career
I stared in Hollyoaks when I was just 14 years old and stayed there for 10 years before I moved onto other roles in TV, theatre and film including Casualty, Doctors, The Dark Knight, Noises Off and Birdsong. I returned to Hollyoaks a few years ago before I left in 2019 to take back control of my career and my choices.
Q: What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
It means empowerment for all women, that means freedom of speech, choices and having a voice in this world. Opportunities and inclusivity for all women.
Q: What would you say have been some of your biggest challenges as a woman in the industry?
In my industry we are very frequently typecast and I feel this applies to women more then men, based solely on appearance. I have been pitted against other women all my life and have on many occasions been made to feel like there’s only room for one women, what I have learnt and continue to learn as I grow older is that there is power when women come together and join forces, and that there’s space for all of us.
Q: What advice would you give to younger women starting out in their acting career today?
Find your tribe of women. What I genuinely think has saved me growing up in this industry is have a strong circle of like minded strong women beside me, both in and out of the industry. We have supported and encouraged each other through all the ups and downs in our lives, both on and off screen.
Q: Do you think the culture in performing arts supports working mums?
To put it bluntly, no, but I hope that it’s changing and I know there are some incredible women paving the way. I think this is true of most careers though, not just the performing arts, there needs to more in place to help support mums that want to go back to work.
Q: What’s your biggest career achievement?
I have lots of favourite times in my career. Appearing in Batman, The Dark Knight was obviously one, as it’s such an iconic franchise to be a part of and I can’t wait until my little boy Stanley can see his mummy on screen alongside ‘Batman’. I love theatre and one of my favourite shows to be part of was ‘Boeing Boeing’, it was my first theatre production and I was so proud of myself for landing such a great role, the cast were amazing too and we’ve stayed friends.
Q: What’s the best thing about being a woman?
I think women are super humans, I really do, I love that we can multi task, we can take on any role and get the job done and then some, we can bear children and also be incredible sexual beings, we are strong and sensual and empathetic but also take no nonsense!
Q: What’s your superpower?
Being a mum. Parenting is the hardest job I’ve ever had and as much as it’s rewarding and the best thing ever, it’s constant, once you’re a mum you don’t ever get a day off from that. I think being a mum, but still being able to be Sarah and make time to prioritise me every now and then, even if that’s just a couple of times a week at the gym, that’s my super power.
Q: What would you say to your younger self?
I’d tell her to do all the things she’s scared of, to just go for it and to believe in herself more.
Q: Who is your role model?
I would say my mum as she’s always managed to be a great mum but maintain a balance and still be true to herself. Saying that I look at all my friends who are mums now and I’m just in awe of all of them and so proud of the women we’ve become.
Q: Let’s talk about work-life balance with children, how do you manage yours, and what’s most important?
Obviously my son is the most important factor in any of my work/life decisions, ultimately everything I do boils down to him being secure and happy, but with that I also have to be happy and doing what I love to, in return, be a good mum. I’m very fortunate that my husband is very understanding of how my career works, I often have to do a last minute trip to London for work and he’s completely supportive of that, my son also understands that mummy’s job means that sometimes mummy is at home a lot and sometimes mummy is away.
Q: What advice do you have for any Mums juggling a career and children?
Make sure you are taking some time out that is solely dedicated to you, even if that’s just 5 minutes with a cup of tea or a drive around the block, anything to have a moment to yourself, and a joint diary, that’s the only way me and my husband know where each other is or what clubs Stan has on at school etc, without that we would both be completely lost. Also, don’t be too hard on yourself, life is tricky at the best of times, allow yourself to have the occasional meltdown, to feel overwhelmed, to not put the washing away, to cry into a cuppa, we are all doing are best and that is the best we can do.