Motherhood in the film industry

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  • Actresses in Georgia chat about work-life balance 
  • Filming in Georgia continues to grow 
  • How being an actress changes your family 

Mara Hall is a multi-faceted actor, musician, and teacher, writer and producer, but now she is adding one more title to her belt. It’s the role of a lifetime, Motherhood.  

Hall’s daughter Marley is teething, and in between naps she found time to sit down and talk about how she is learning to balance her life as a working mom in the bustling film industry.  Transitioning into the role of a working mother is a journey.  

“It’s very, very overwhelming just to be honest and transparent,” Hall says. “But at the same time, my daughter, her name is Marley Nicole, and every time she smiles at me, it just warms my heart.” 

Her days require meticulous planning now to get things done when her daughter is either asleep or is occupied Hall says.  

“A lot of multitasking and just juggling different hats that I never had to juggle before,” Hall says. “Because she comes first. I see myself taking care of her more than taking care of myself. So, I have to plan and take showers. I want to try to wash my hair before she wakes up.” 

Mara HallThe film industry in Georgia 

After living in Los Angeles for the past 11 years, Hall decided to relocate to the area because within the last two years much of her work was in Atlanta.  

“Good quality work,” Hall says. “I have more opportunities here in Atlanta versus LA, and definitely it’s the new Hollywood of the south!” 

The move also makes the filming schedule for her new show, “Ambitions,” work for her family.  

“Ambitions” is a nighttime soap opera currently airing on the Oprah Winfrey Network. The show explores the sexy, deceitful machinations of love, power and politics in America’s hottest urban mecca, Atlanta, Georgia. The series centers around the intense rivalry between formidable legal eagles Stephanie Lancaster (Robin Givens) and Amara Hughes (Essence Atkins), former best friends from college who find themselves adversaries in both their personal and professional lives. Hall portrays a mysterious relative of the Lancaster’s’ that comes into town in the middle of chaos, with unclear intentions.  

According to The American College of Obstetricians of Gynecologist, one in four women returns to work within ten days of giving birth. Hall started filming for the show when her daughter was two months old.  

Depending on how many scenes there are for the show, filming days can be around 12 to 14 hours Hall says. When her husband is off to Los Angeles for work, Hall receives support for caring for her daughter from others. 

“My mom and my dad fly in from Detroit to come and take shifts of taking care of Marley,” Hall says. “I’m blessed to have a wonderful caregiver and a nanny that comes and helps me out.” 

Leaving a legacy  

Hall is leaving a legacy for her daughter and other women with her passion project called Juicy Ladies, which was selected by the Langston Hughes African American Film Festival and will appear on Aspire TV’s independent film block. Juicy Ladies is loosely based on Hall’s life and her struggles of being a full-figured woman in the dating scene and being diagnosed with diabetes.  

“Making all the wrong decisions with men and choosing not to eat in a healthy way, which caused me to get diabetes,” Hall says “Just trying to live with that and live a better life, and trying to make wiser decisions as far as food is concerned and exercise.” 

The story dives into the discrimination that full-figured women sometimes receive and how she eventually found true love. More importantly, the full-figured woman is the main character instead of the “side chick or friend” Hall says. This dynamic isn’t something you see a lot of in mainstream TV or film.   

The former Assistant Director of Bands at Morehouse College holds a Doctorate in Musical Arts in Clarinet Performance. She has been teaching music for the past 20 years at different colleges and grade schools. Before moving to Georgia, Hall was the Artistic Director for the Harmony Project in Los Angeles, which is a nonprofit organization that provides free music education to low-income students all around Los Angeles.  

“I’m probably going to teach private lessons here and offer my services as a band director clinician to all of the local middle schools and high schools here in my free time because this is my passion and I love teaching, especially music,” Hall says. 

Karen Ceesay Stranger Things
Karen Ceesay .Film still from Stranger Things

Becoming the cool mom 

Through the eyes of a child, having a mother in the film industry can be pretty exciting, especially for popular shows like Netflix’s’ “Stranger Things” that break records. According to Netflix, 40.7 million household accounts have watched season three of the show since its July 4 global launch — more than any other film or series in its first four days. Karen Ceesay portrays Mrs. Sinclair, Lucas’ mom on “Stranger Things.”  

“That’s the first show I’ve booked that I was a fan of and my son and I literally, we got Netflix for “Stranger Things,” Karen Ceesay says. “To book it a year later, it was just awesome. Then that made me like a star at his school.”  

Ceesay is no stranger to shows with epic fandoms. She also portrays Bertie on “The Walking Dead” and was able to experience San Diego Comic-Con with her son in a whole new way.  

“My son is all into cosplay,” Ceesay says. “I got to go to comic-con last year and do comic con like a celebrity with my own booth. He got to do the experience as a fan.”  

She portrays a mom on the screen, so to have fans recognize her in this fashion is terrific, Ceesay says.  

“There was one point where a little girl came up to my booth and she was like, ‘oh my God, is that you’, and I’m like, ‘yeah, Hey!’, and I’m just literally like, okay, whatever,” Ceesay says “And she was just starstruck and stuff like that. I’m like a mom. I’m like, your mom. But, I’m not, I was just a mom.” 

Working mothers in the film industry learn to manage hectic schedules in a fast-paced industry but are rewarded with the outcomes of their art when it’s seen on the screen. It’s something they pass down to their children and the children of others. 

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Meghan Cooper is a writer, content creator, movie critic, and geek living in Atlanta, Ga. She loves movies, traveling, and lots of coffee. Member of the Southeastern Film Critics Association, Georgia Film Critics Association, and Atlanta Film Critics Circle.

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