Tammin Sursok became a household name from her time playing Dani Sutherland on Home and Away and since then has appeared as Colleen Carlton on The Young and the Restless and Jenna marshall on Pretty Little Liars. Away from acting she has launched her own kids’ clothing line, Stella.Phoenix, founded a production with her husband, producer Sean McEwen and is a mum to daughter, Phoenix. Did I mention she has also found the time to start her own parenting blog Bottle and Heels? Here Tammin takes time from her extremely busy schedule to chat to me about motherhood, living in Los Angeles and how she handles working with her husband…
What is a day in the life of you?
Everyday is always different. As an actor, working with our production company, writing, and designing, whatever is the most time sensitive is what I focus on. I try to keep routine when it comes to my daughter though. We are up at 6am, we eat breakfast together, and one of us takes her to school. It’s the same with our night time routine. In a very unstructured business, I try to give her the most structure in her life.
What are you working on at the moment?
My hubby and I started a production company, Charlie Baby Productions, in 2015 and our projects are slowly but surely getting off the ground. It is extremely surreal to actually see your vision come to life. My business partner Kellie and I are also designing our next collection for Stella.Phoenix. We are actively building my blog, Bottle and Heels and my new show, In Bed with Tammin, on YouTube, where I get to talk real talk with celebrities in bed with a glass of wine.
You have been working on the film Whaling with your husband. What is the secret to working well together?
Believe me it doesn’t always go smoothly. But I’m glad in our relationship we argue over shot lists and not anything more serious. We absolutely love working together and I think we both bring our strengths to the table. But it definitely takes work in learning how to communicate properly. Time management is also important and making sure that your boundaries when you’re on set are clearly defined.
How involved are you with the designs for Stella.Phoenix?
My business partner and I are co-creators of the company. We speak almost daily and we do everything together from nuts to bolts. It has been such an incredible experience and I’ve learned so much within the last year in regards to children’s wear.
Where do you get your inspiration?
For me, travel is a huge way of finding inspiration. Looking out into the water and seeing the rich blues and the different colours of my surroundings. The shapes and textures from being overseas really helps draw inspiration for each collection.
How has life changed after becoming a mum?
Everything’s changed. I’ve really had to work on my time management and communication skills because sometimes you’re just so tired to even do anything. But the biggest thing for me that has changed is I feel like I’m living my life all over again. I see the world through new eyes and I never thought I could possibly feel the love that I have with my daughter.
Where do you find the time to write your blog, Bottle and Heels?
My husband and I are very good with divvying up our time with Phoenix. He understands that on the weekends I need some time to write and I will give him another block of time somewhere in the weekend for him to do his work. But Phoenix now goes to preschool so a lot gets done during the day.
What do mums get out of reading your blog?
I think they get a sense of community and they feel like they have a network of mothers and women who offer support and guidance and a good laugh. The reason I started Bottle and Heels is I didn’t have any mothers that I could talk to after my daughter was born so I felt quite alone. I wanted to create a safe space where women could tell the truth and not be judged because of it.
What do you love the most about being a mum?
I love that I have this little buddy and we get to walk through this life together. She truly is my best friend, as corny as it sounds. Life is just so much more fun…and messy.
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of motherhood?
I definitely thinking trying to have it all. I think women can, I just don’t think they can have it all at the same time. Also the guilt can be deafening. I never really felt guilty until I had Phoenix and now it happens at least once a day. Also, I think, losing parts of your identity but you definitely gain new aspects of yourself that are more colourful.
What is the secret to maintaining a career and juggling motherhood?
I think the secret is definitely time management. Having lots of lists. Open communication with your husband. Getting help when you need it. And giving yourself a break.
As an actress and singer-songwriter, which medium do you prefer the most?
Since Charlie Baby Productions was born, I honestly just love creating. I could never have a top choice but telling stories about the human experience in whatever form is what I love to do. I’ve always been a storyteller and that’s what propels me forward.
What is your favourite memory from Home and Away?
Being cast in the show was a pivotal point in my life. Everything changed from the moment I got that phone call. I will be forever indebted to that show and the opportunities it brought me, including my family.
Why did you decide to return to Pretty Little Liars playing your character Jenna Marshall?
I never left the show. I was on the show for seven years but Phoenix was born in between so I took a year off.
What was it like to play Jenna who is such a controversial character?
It was wonderful. I think being visually impaired taught me a lot about acting with my body. I learned a lot from that character.
What’s on your bucket list?
Travel to places like South America, India, Japan. Build our company so we can be producing and creating more stories, especially for women. Have another child at some point. Expanding Stella.Phoenix into America and the rest of the world. And spend more time in Australia.
How do you keep your energy levels up?
I am almost militant about health. Without your health you have nothing. I’ve been eating and exercising in a healthy manner since I was 15-years-old. I’m a big advocate for superfoods. I don’t eat meat, and I don’t touch dairy. I was a huge coffee drinker for 15 years as I thought it gave me more energy, but I realised it was just frying out my adrenal glands. I haven’t had caffeine for three months and I can’t tell you how much better I feel. I sleep less but am never tired, my skin doesn’t break out, and I have tons more energy. Go figure.
What do you miss the most about Australia?
The lifestyle. The beaches, the food, my family. I feel like I can breathe when I’m there. Los Angeles is always a race and you always feel like you’re catching your breath.