Between raising three children, including twins, and prepping her solo show – Organic Sofrito – actor, singer, writer Venessa Diaz took time to talk to us about motherhood, artistry, raising children, down syndrome, and – most of all – not giving up. Her show is this Friday, and this interview is powerhouse and what we all needed today. Check it out:
Name:Venessa M. Diaz
Status: Three children, Claudessa 10, Julian & Noel, 5
WHAT SURPRISED AND EXCITED YOU
What surprised me about motherhood when I was pregnant with my first child was the assumption that I would give up my career in the Performing Arts.
I would often hear comments like, “So that’s it huh? You’re going to give up your dream of being on Broadway?” It angered me so much because I was certain men never hear comments like that when they become fathers.
Why would I give up on my life long goals and a career I’ve been developing over half my life just because I now had a little human to take care of? We can’t we do both?
WHAT CHALLENGED YOU
For me, it is a delicate balance. There are certain responsibilities that come with parenthood that may get in the way of career opportunities.
In my experience its even harder because I have young twin boys with Down syndrome. There is no denying that because of their diagnosis I have to dedicate more time and energy into assuring that they have the same opportunities as my neuro-typical child. I’d be lying if I said I don’t get caught up in the “What if’s”.
I see many of my peers having so much success, the kind of success I’ve always dreamed of and sometimes it puts me in a funk. But the way I see it, if I had to choose between being a Tony award winning Broadway star or cuddles from my beautiful children, I’d take the latter!! Being a mother is the role of a lifetime that allows you to grow and change, inspire and educate in a way that no other artistic medium can. So, if I don’t ever get that Tony, I’ll be okay with a shoebox full of handmade Mothers Day cards.
WHAT YOU LOOK FORWARD TO
I look forward to seeing how the example I am setting will affect my children. They are already naturally talented! My daughter has the voice of an angel and is a very talented actress! And my little guys act out movies from beginning to end! I wonder if they will one day pursue a career in the arts.
WHAT YOU THINK PEOPLE SHOULD KNOW
Motherhood is no easy feat. It’s tiring, all-consuming and isolating. More often than not, you will ask yourself if you are doing the “right thing” for your child. The doubt and guilt are unbelievable! And the judgment that one often encounters from other mothers can sometimes feel overwhelming. BUT, that is even more reason to continue being creative! As artists, we need to honor the truth of who we are! We need to allow that light inside of us to continue to shine. That spark is what brought us to a career in the performing arts. When we allow ourselves to be the artists we were born to be, our children learn that they too have the inherent right to follow their dreams.
YOUR FAVORITE MOMMY-ARTIST STORY
When my daughter was 4 years old she came to a cabaret contest I was competing in. It was the final round and when I didn’t win she burst into tears and was inconsolable. She kept saying, “Mommy, I wanted you to win!!” It was a great lesson for her to learn that although I didn’t win, I tried my best and didn’t give up.
Venessa’s show itself deals with the intergeneration impact of mental health and tradition through comedy as she plays a master chef whose attempts to not include anything bad in her cooking – or life – unearth a lot of voices from her past and recipes for disaster. Don’t miss it. Support this mama artist, and see a fantastic show. CLICK HERE for tickets and more info.
The series “What She Looks Like” was originally hosted on AuditioningMom.com and is now published exclusively here on the PAAL Blog with permission. If you would like to submit your story for What She Looks Like as a mother and artist in the performing arts – working, seeking work, or stepped away – submit an interview through the form here!