Can a childless actress portray a mother?

British Actress Anne Reid was quoted recently in the Telegraph as saying that childless actresses cannot portray mothers because they don’t really know what it’s like. ( do you think? Can we not use what we have seen and experienced in our lives to imagine what it’s like to be a mom? Should we flip it and say that women who have children cannot play characters who are childless–or childfree?

I wonder about this as a writer, too. Can I really write accurately about what it’s like to give birth and to be a parent when I have not experienced these things for myself? But writers write about a lot of things that they haven’t personally experienced, right?

What do you think?

6 thoughts on “Can a childless actress portray a mother?

  1. I read about this as well and at first I thought “no” but upon giving it more thought I think of course a non-parent can play a parent even if they are not one. If they are a good actor/actress obviously they are capable of acting out scenes that they may not have experienced first hand – I think it's called acting!

    Hope you are well…



  2. Of course a non-parent can play a parent – after all, they had excellent role models in their own parents. I'm sure that every actor/actress doesn't experience first-hand every situation that comes up in film so it does require ACTING!


  3. The actress Helen Mirren is an excellent example of a childless actor who has had many roles as a “mother.”

    Anne Reid is obviously trying to garner more roles for herself seeing how she is an older actress and thinks younger actressses are less likely to have children. As the Brits say, she is being a “stroppy cow” because her career is obviously flagging/fading.

    There is so much backlash against childless women these days, we ought to be a protected group.


  4. Anne Reid once played Florence Finnegan, a blood-sucking alien called a Plasmavore in an episode of Dr. Who, which is about a mysterious time traveller who rights wrongs and saves civilization. That's why it's called acting. Silly.


  5. Totally agree with all comments and espcially Liz and Kate B. Acting is acting irrespective of the role. You are portraying a character.Just another example of elitist arrogance of parents who expect you cannot possibly understand their world. Really we are saturated by it in this child/family obsessed place….we don't get a choice.


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