Nancy Travis: Mom And Actor

A little while back I had the privilege of participating in a phone interview with Nancy Travis, whom you probably remember from such movies as Internal Affairs, So I Married An Ax Murderer and The Sisterhood Of The Traveling Pants, or from her starring roles in the TV series Almost Perfect and Becker. The first time I ever came across her was when she played the baby’s mom in 3 Men And A Baby (I totally believed that she was British).

Now a mom of 2 boys, she’s starring in the runaway hit sitcom The Bill Engvall Show on TBS. She plays Susan Pearson, stay-at-home mom to three typical kids. I, along with some other mom bloggers from the SV Moms blogging group, were able to interview Ms. Travis at length about her life, her family, and her career. I have to say that as a group, we asked some interesting, penetrating questions.

Since I’d always wanted to be an actress growing up, I was very excited to speak in detail with someone who has not only had a long and interesting career on both stage and screen, but who seems to be successfully balancing that career with being a wife and mother. And Nancy couldn’t have been nicer (I hope she’s OK with me switching to her first name – Ms. Travis is just too formal). Her own kids were busy watching Scooby Doo, as were some of the bloggers’ kids. Rich or poor, famous or not, some things are the same all over: need peace and quiet for a phone call? Put on Scooby Doo!

Asked how she does it all with her busy schedule, Nancy started off by saying that a sitcom schedule is pretty manageable: most days she works from 10am until 3 or 4, and can be home with her boys after school. Thursdays are an exception, since that’s when The Bill Engvall Show is taped: her day starts at noon and goes until about 9:30pm. She said that while she still wants to be a feature film actor, she’s come to learn that kids want and need a kind of stability that wouldn’t be possible if she were on a movie set 12-14 hours a day.

Would she want her kids to go into acting? Nancy replied that she is very protective of them and tries to shield them from what goes on in the entertainment industry, but that she would support them if they wanted to be actors. But not if they simply wanted to be famous, which seems to be the case with so many young people in the industry these days.

I commented to her that when an actress plays a superhero or spy or some other fantasy character, she can more easily separate herself from the role she’s playing. But since she’s playing a mom, and she is mom, does she ever see her character as representing something bigger, or is it merely a character she plays?

Nancy answered that she does feel responsible and representative of mothers of teenagers, but struggles with it a little because her character decided to stay home with her kids. So while she does bring some of herself into the role, she tries to stay true to the character instead of just playing “Nancy Travis.” She wants to give credibility and honor to moms who stay home, while not being a stereotype – a housewife character from the 50s.

I asked her if she finds that people expect her to be a better mother because she’s famous and is perceived to have more opportunities than “normal” mothers, or do people expect her to be a worse mother since she’s an actress?

Nancy thought about it for a few seconds and said that she does feel like she’s being watched in a way that wouldn’t happen to a mom who wasn’t famous or recognizable. When she goes to the grocery store people do recognize her and watch what she’s doing, and when she has a “moment” in public she’s always afraid that it will wind up in the tabloids.  But she pointed out that sometimes things aren’t what they seem on the outside, that a family can look perfect, but then it turns out that a child is addicted to drugs or something.

As far as her leisure time goes, she says that she’s addicted to American Idol, and gets sucked into Animal Planet with her kids. But mostly she watches news shows recorded by her husband, since she doesn’t know how to work her TiVo. She’s in two book clubs, and recent faves have included The Road From Coorain by Jill Ker Conway, Someone Knows My Name: A Novel by Lawrence Hill, and Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller.

I honestly don’t know where she finds the time to work, be a mom, read books, and keep up with American Idol. But she seems to be doing it all with grace.

The Bill Engvall Show airs Thursdays at 9pm on TBS, and full episodes can also be watched here.

Originally posted on Selfish Mom

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