Tammin Sursok on What It's Like to Raise a Daughter in the Spotlight
Photos: Courtesy of Tammin Sursok
Before becoming a multi-hyphenate mama, Tammin Sursok made a name for herself as a multi-talented actress and singer in Australia. Although she may be familiar to most as her Pretty Little Liars character Jenna Marshall, the South African-born star is known as "mom" to her 4-year-old daughter, Phoenix.
On top of balancing parenthood with life in the spotlight, the entrepreneur is also an open book when it comes to the struggles of motherhood — many of which she documents on her blog, Bottle and Heels, as a way to help empower others. That's not all: Last year, Sursok also launched her first girls clothing line, Stella.Phoenix, with fellow mama and business partner, Kellie Beattie.
We sat down with the Fashion Mamas LA member to find out more about her journey through Hollywood and mamahood, what it's like to live a day in her shoes, what it's like raising a daughter in the public eye, her best advice for entrepreneurial mothers, and more — read on below, then check out Sursok's website for her top travel tips, musings on motherhood, and many other topics.
Tell us about your career journey — what led you to where you are today?
My career has been an interesting one thus far. I started at 15 years old on a TV show in Australia called Home and Away. It was my first audition and my first big break, so I thought everything went that smoothly. Haha, oh I was so wrong! After working on the show for five years, I signed a music contract with Sony BMG at 20 years old. I released my first album in Australia and then moved to the UK to release my second.
Upon arrival I realized that London wasn’t my future home, so I moved to Los Angeles with two suitcases and a big ol’ dream and I never went home. I’ve been fortunate enough to work as an actor on long standing shows, such as Pretty Little Liars. Most recently my husband and I, born out of frustration, started our own production company, Charlie Baby Productions. After five years of fighting to get our projects made, this year we shot eight episodes of a TV show with Sony, called Aussie Girl, and filmed our feature, Whaling, with Tom Felton, David Koechner, and Wendie McLendon-Covey.
Also, last year a long-standing dream of mine to start a children’s clothing company came true. We launched Stella.Phoenix in October 2016 and my female-driven blog, Bottles and Heels. Life feels very surreal right now. I just want to make sure that I appreciate the fight and the wins.
What's the name and age of your little one?
Phoenix, 4 years old.
What's a typical day like for you, from the moment you wake up?
Every day 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 nighttime routine. In a very unstructured business, I try to give her the most structure in her life.
You're in a unique position of being a mother in the public eye. What are a few ways that you give your daughter a sense of “normalcy"?
Our whole life we structure around her. My work, I feel, does not affect her negatively. We have a pretty tight schedule and are surrounded by very grounded, interesting, diverse people. She thinks mommy and daddy’s job is just a bit of fun and I’d like to keep it that way!
What are some aspects of motherhood that you look forward to as your daughter gets older?
I can honestly say, now that she’s 4, she’s becoming my best little buddy. I’m so excited to delve deeper into that relationship and to get to know her even more. She’s the love of my life.
What the one thing about parenting/motherhood that you wish was discussed more publicly?
Nothing! I actually started my blog, Bottle and Heels, for this very reason. When I first became a mother I felt very isolated and alone and I didn’t have a network of mothers who were there to draw support from. So the idea of Bottle and Heels was born to talk openly about the things that affect us directly with no shame, no judgement. We’ve covered topics from postpartum to mommy guilt and so much more.
Favorite organizational tools/apps that help you balance work/mom life?
The app “Things,” Google Calendar, and of course, my assistant, Cecilia. I would be lost without her!
What are your current favorite kids clothing brands?
And your favorite grown-up clothing brands?
Beauty product you can't live without?
What's your best advice for women and mothers who want to succeed in your field?
Don’t scale too quickly. In the beginning of starting a business, when there is some form of success, I think one innately wants to reach for the stars. There absolutely is nothing wrong with that, but when you scale too fast you can make unnecessary mistakes. Growing a business slowly but steadily and keeping your loyal customers are the most important.