I was totally starstruck sitting down for an interview with Mandy Gonzalez after watching her star in Hamilton as Angelica Schuyler. Yet there was such ease in our conversation- mom to mom. Mandy shared something that will always stay with me and has completely reframed the way I think of self-care. She cares passionately about taking care of her family, and in order to do that well, first and foremost she needs to take care of herself. She shared how taking care of yourself is taking care of your family because you’re so important to your family. I know all moms can relate and connect to that.
Watch + Listen to the whole conversation:
Mandy Gonzalez worked incredibly hard to make it to Broadway. She was thrilled that she had “made it” in her role as Elphaba in Wicked but also knew that she wanted a family too. Though many told her that she couldn’t have both- a career on broadway and a family- Mandy was unwilling to compromise. Mandy took a few years off to have her daughter, but realized that her work was equally important to her as her family. Even though Mandy previously held leading roles in In the Heights, Aida, and Wicked, she faced rejection after rejection. Directors doubted she was “ready” to return to work full time. But Mandy refused to take no for an answer and made opportunities for herself. Mandy is now in her fourth year starring as Angelica Schuyler in Hamilton. And though she stars in 8 shows a week on Broadway, Mandy still finds a way to make the juggle work for her career and her family- as all moms do.
Where were you working when you had your daughter?
I remember feeling after Wicked that I really wanted to try and have a family. I was very lucky and it happened really fast. I was ready to take a pause after working so hard throughout my twenties, and really through my whole life. I really felt like I wanted to take some time to just be a mom and figure out what that was like. I had saved money from various jobs that I had in order to do that. So I was able to take time to devote to her. I’m so glad I did- it was such an amazing time.
How did people in the industry respond to you having your daughter?
As an artist you’re a part of a business where so many people will tell you not to have a kid- not that you asked them for their advice, but they give that advice. They’ll tell you- You don’t want to get pregnant because that’s going to put you out of the business and people aren’t going to look at you the same. I had a lot of people in my life that are no longer a part of my life because of those comments. When I was young and an actor I just wanted to work and I wanted to please. I wanted to be what everybody thought I should be and that all changed when I became a mom. Now, my family comes first. I had to start making some rules- you can be a part of my life if you accept all of my life.
So how did you decide to go back to work after having your daughter?
I took some time to have my daughter and to just be with her, I remember feeling like this is what I want to do- I just want to be a mom. Then all of a sudden I started to feel like there was something missing. I felt really bad about that because I felt like I had everything that I should want and what could possibly be missing? I remember talking to my mom about it. I remember my mom saying- Well Mandy, you need a job. Work is also a part of you. I remember feeling really bad about that but I also wanted that part of my life. So I asked the universe to go back to work.
Can you share a bit about your breast cancer journey? I love how you identify as a cancer thriver.
I was diagnosed in October of 2019. I’m the first in my family to be diagnosed with breast cancer after my very first mammogram. I turned forty and my doctor asked me if I wanted to get a mammogram. I had the option to get one since there was no prior history of breast cancer in my family. And I am so grateful that I did. A lot of women, especially moms, we put ourselves last in line and I definitely am part of that club. So many people aren’t going into those visits and aren’t putting their own self care first. That’s why I decided after going through this that I would become an advocate for early detection to let people know that even though you don’t have it in your family, it is something that does affect your family because cancer is definitely a “we” disease. It’s something that affects everyone and so putting yourself first is putting your family first. You need to remember that you’re so important.
Co-founder & COO
Bridget is mom to two little boys, Hudson and Brooks, and a champion of working moms everywhere. NeighborSchools itself was borne out of Bridget’s challenge to find high-quality yet affordable child care, and the realization that so many parents struggle with these same issues every day.