My Idealized Pregnant Actor Lady Land, Realized

Tabatha Shaun, pregnant actor at seven and a half months, from two angles - Pyragraph

I’m a seven-and-half-months-pregnant actor.

It’s been two months since I’ve been on a film set, five months since I’ve had an audition, and I’m getting itchy.

Some evenings, I run my fingernails from my breasts to my stomach over and over again until my entire torso is red and tingly, and I feel satiated. Other evenings, I sit at my computer and obsessively search for recent articles on my 2013 projects until hours have gone by and my eyeballs struggle to remain in their orbits and sleep crashes upon me. Those evenings are never satisfying. I imagined I’d have an easier time scratching the itches of this work interlude.

Can’t we cast pregnant ladies in roles that have nothing to do with being pregnant?

I imagined I’d get called into auditions until I was at least six months pregnant. I imagined directors would shout, “Pregnancy, schmegnancy! I want you in my project!,” and I’d respond, “Oh, thank you so much! I knew I had nothing to worry about!”

I’d keep on working and would have so many set stories to tell my little kid: “You can’t tell, but you were in that scene, hiding under my petticoat and keeping me warm in the frigid winter! Look, look, in this scene, you were stabbing my cervix and I had to smile through it! That’s why I’m smiling AND crying!”

Rather, I got called into auditions until I announced my pregnancy. I feel like I’ve been temporarily flagged as defective, and not because of the weight gain. People of all girths are actors, after all.

Is it the emotional stigma associated with pregnant actors that keeps them off screen?

In television, pregnant women are only used to provide tacky comic relief or to introduce a medical emergency. In film, pregnant women aren’t cast unless the pregnancy is a plot point in the movie.

In life, pregnant women are everywhere, rarely having hysterical meltdowns in a coffee shop or breaking their waters in the aisle at the grocery store. Can’t we cast pregnant ladies in roles that have nothing to do with being pregnant? Pizza delivery 20-something, simply delivering pizza and exiting? Background actor pregnant lady, not waddling or crying in the background, just reading a damn book?

Two months to go and I’ve got a postnatal checklist:

  • Take new headshot
  • Sign up for workshops
  • Meet with agent for coffee
  • Find agent in Austin

Two months until I find out whether or not my postnatal acting expectations and realities are good buddies. Two months to find satisfaction reading and analyzing scripts, strumming my guitar, writing late at night, watching my kefir grains float to the top of my milk, poking the bubbles of my sauerkraut, learning to knit socks and sweaters.

Two months to hang out with and poke my aquatic creature before they surface. Two months to heal the wounds of my prenatal film acting expectations and resolve what to do the next time I house a future human.

Photos courtesy of Tabatha Shaun.

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  1. I’d love to have a group of highly emotional women fighting for our right to keep our jobs while our bodies are being leeched on! Then we can have a nemesis group, the Protectors of Fetal Actors, who will speak up for the fetuses! They will protect them from their stage moms, get contracts for the embryos, ensure high-quality foods are available to them on set, and so on.

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