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My mum is an artist

The portraits of women who are successfully combining motherhood with their artistic career through photographs of them as artists and as mums and completed with their interview.

Alyssa: actress, business woman & mum

We're beginning 'My Mum is an artist' project with Alyssa Kyria, an actress/comedienne who became a mum a couple of years ago. I met Alyssa through a weekly class at Monkey Music.

When you meet her, you can tell straight away that she has a great sense of humour, telling stories and jokes about life as a mum. She is also full of beans, ideas and love for her daughter Lola who one day will say: "My Mum is an artist". So let's meet the artist...

1. Alyssa, tell us about yourself? 

My name is Alyssa Kyria and I am mum to a 3-year-old diva called Lola, and step-mum to 10-year-old Jonathan. I’m married to Will (also a diva) who works in recruitment. We live in Grove Park, Bromley.

I am an actress, comedienne and business owner.

I run a business called ‘Bring Your Own Baby Comedy’ – which is adult comedy for parents who can bring their babies along. We started in September 2016 with one venue in Beckenham and we now have 18 venues across the country ( www.byobcomedy.com ).

Myself and my ‘business wife’, Carly Smallman, started BYOBaby Comedy as we wanted to create an event where parents could come and have a much needed laugh. When Lola was a baby, I suffered with post-natal depression, and was nervous of going out and about with her, as I was struggling with breast feeding. I felt very down and quite isolated. I also felt that suddenly my life was ‘all about the baby’.

Our shows are a treat for the parents, and mums can come and breastfeed, bottle feed, drink wine, drink coffee, laugh…basically do whatever they want, and the babies are provided with soft flooring and toys so they are happy too. We book the best comics on the circuit, and provide a fantastic ‘night out…during the day’!

As a comic, I perform stand up comedy as well as character comedy, in the guise of my ‘alter ego’ Ariadne the Greek WAG. I perform at shows such as Showtime at Café De Paris, and host Comedy Bingo at the Chancery in Beckenham. I started as an actress, and I still am an actress (if anyone ever casts me!) but I love comedy, and love writing my own material, and the rush of getting a laugh out of the audience.

Behind the scenes: Alyssa getting ready to impersonate her comedy character Ariadne the Greek Wag

I love making people laugh. I was always the ‘class clown’ so comedy was always on the cards for me, I think.

2.    What do you love about your art?

I love making people laugh. I was always the ‘class clown’ – always creating little sketches and songs to make my classmates giggle, so comedy was always on the cards for me, I think. I think laughter is a great medicine, so to give people a laugh, something they can relate to or that just tickles them, is a real treat for me.

3.    Has motherhood changed you as an artist?

I honestly thought motherhood would be the death of my art and my career! I thought my brain would go and I would never find time to write, or perform again. But strangely, it has been the opposite. B.C (before child) I had all the time in the world to write comedy, to push my career forward – but I procrastinated and never got anything done. Now, I have no time, so whenever I do get pockets of time – I make them count.

Motherhood has also made me more creative, which surprised me. Playing with Lola, seeing the world through her eyes, has brought so much fun and silliness to my life, that it has made my writing more playful… and motherhood has definitely improved my singing voice as I get so much practice now…singing Wheels on the Bus every bloody day!

Without having had Lola, I would have never come up with the concept of ‘Bring Your Own Baby Comedy’. The madness of motherhood has also inspired lots of comedy for me, and provides great material on a daily basis!

Alyssa, mum of 3-year-old Lola

4.    What has helped you combining your family life and your professional/artistic life?

Childcare?! Hehe. My Mum is my rock and helps so much with Lola, that I couldn’t do this without her. She is my support system, along with Will (aforementioned Diva hubby) and Lola also goes to a fab childminder.

It’s been a struggle to balance time with Lola alongside time for me to perform and to build the business. BYOBaby especially, has really taken off, so I now work 3.5 to 4 days a week, which is more than I wanted to – but I love what I do, and don’t want to get off the rollercoaster! When I do have my days with Lola, I try to put down my phone, and focus on her… though it is hard!

I also do a lot of work once she is in bed, to maximise my time with her. That’s the good thing about working for yourself, though the downside is that you feel like you can never really switch off.

5.   Do you have dreams for your daughter?

 Cheesy cliché alert… I want her to be happy. I just really want her to be true to herself, confident and happy. She is such a character, and I just want that to grow and flourish and just be there to help her become whoever she wants to be.

6.     Have you noticed an artistic side in her?

Absolutely. She has the performer gene I think. She always the first to run onto the stage to have a dance, and she has no qualms about walking into a room of boys and girls, that she has never met, and introducing herself. Lately, when I am trying to get her out the door, she says “I can’t go now Mum…I NEED TO DANCE AROUND!”

7.   What advice would you give out to other mums who try to combine their art/creative work with their family life?

I would say just try and do a little something, even if you only have 20 minutes! I once created a comedy YouTube video while Lola had a short nap. It will surprise you what might come up in the moment, and even if you come up with a load of rubbish, you will still feel proud that you did something productive, and the next time, you might hit on something you like!

8.  What are your main struggles and victories since becoming a mum?

I struggle with worrying about people judging my parenting. I think there is a lot of pressure and judgement on mums, and I feel self conscious sometimes ‘parenting in public’, as I feel like people are looking at me and thinking ‘oh look at her, she can’t control her child at all…that child is feral!”.

I also struggle with discipline. I’m a big softie and I’m rubbish at setting down rules. I definitely need to get better at that. I always thought I would be a parent who will let her child know who is the boss. Well turns out that I am… she knows that she’s the boss!  I think I need to work on that. Yesterday, Lola screamed at me for bringing her ham that was “the wrong size”. I don’t feel like a Mum sometimes, I’m like an abused waiter in a very surreal restaurant.

Victories:

  • …..um…keeping her alive for 3 years??
  • Emptying poo from a potty and not being sick in my own mouth?
  • Reading the Gruffalo 149 000 times without shooting myself in the head?
  • I haven’t sworn at her yet, I’m pretty proud of that.
  • She is a pretty fab little girl, she says thank you, and is very caring and loving (amidst the tantrums) so hopefully, I’m doing ok.

8.   And finally, can you tell me about your plans for this year?

Well…BYOBaby is going full on national (and possibly international) with more shows planned for places such as Essex, Manchester, Liverpool and beyond! I am pitching a sitcom for my character, Ariadne the Greek WAG, to the TV channels, which I’m very excited about.


Where to find Alyssa? Let's sum up:

Bring Your Own Baby Comedy (across UK): www.byobcomedy.com

Comedy Round Mine (comedy shows in Bromley): https://churchilltheatre.co.uk/Online/comedy-round-mine-various 

Alyssa Kyria websitewww.alyssakyria.com


Alyssa Kyria on stage at the Churchill Theatre, Bromley

What is the 'My Mum is an artist' project?

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Marion & You Photography is a lifestyle family photographer in South East London specialising in family, newborn and maternity photography.