People 12 October 2017
You probably recognize actress and entrepreneur, Sarah Lancaster, from Saved By The Bell: The New Class, and you would be spot on.
We tend to look at people in the spotlight, especially ones able to get up in a room full of people as act their heart out, like Lancaster, and think that they are fearless in every avenue of their life - but that's not always the case. After growing up and having children of her own, she credits becoming a mother to be what drove her to write a screenplay of her own and star in a new film, The Stray.
Photo Courtesy of The Stray
Her acting career literally began with Saved By The Bell, which is a huge accomplishment in itself. “SBTB was a great experience. I was 14 when I started that show... it was a dream come true for me at the time. As well as a tremendous learning experience, I had never stepped foot on a set before that," she shared with me.
Her acting career has taken her through many more notable experiences such as the Warner Bros. series, Everwood, and ABC's What About Brian, but becoming a mother was something even more magical to her. “When I became a mother I felt like a superhero. I felt so empowered like I could take on anything. I've always wanted to write and produce get on the other side of things."
"Becoming a mother really freed me of any doubt I had. So I went for it, approached the author of a book I've long loved and started the process of adapting my first screenplay," she says.
“Superhero" is indeed the word to describe that experience. It's incredible the drive that becoming a mom gives women. Taking care of these tiny human beings create a confidence that is pretty much unparalleled by anything else in the world.
"Last year I optioned a book I've long loved. It is a female-driven coming of age piece. I reached out to the author personally, we co-wrote the screenplay together. Long story short I secured financing and we are currently prepping a top of the year shoot in NYC. We're taking meetings with directors, specifically looking to attach a female. I've wanted to be on the other side of the camera for years and years… something about having my two children gave me the courage to step up and start taking risks. So far so good," she shared with us.
The screenplay is something that resonated with Lancaster on a really personal level. “The story of is about a brother and sister who are very isolated from the rest of the world, they are largely left to their own devices. I began my career at a very young age which could be quite isolating in itself. My friends back home had a completely different teenage experience then I did."
Taking these huge risks with being on the other side of the camera has been completely liberating for her, “When this project began taking shape, anytime I'm working on it... I'm on cloud nine. It's my baby. We still have a long way to go. But the fact that we've gotten financing and a prominent production company behind it... I'm ecstatic."
Balancing all her accolades and being a mom isn't always easy though. In fact, “balance" seems to be that thing that all parents and entrepreneurs are reaching for every day and is a juggling act we're all looking to play a bigger role in our lives. Lancaster gets it, too, “It's not easy. I fumble all three on a regular basis! What I'm trying to work on is not making myself to feel so guilty about it! Remind myself that I'm doing the best I can. It's a work in progress."
But of course, working on the screenplay isn't the only project that she's been up to. Her newly released film, The Stray, came out on October 6th and is something she's so excited and proud of as well. “The Stray is a true story about The Davis family. They're a young family with several small children and when we meet them they're really struggling. Mitch, the dad, is working overtime, disconnected from his wife and kids. A stray dog happens to find them and without giving anything away is the catalyst for bringing them back together."
If she can offer one piece of advice to all the moms out there that are trying to start businesses and get back to work after stopping to have kids, she says to “be that squeaky wheel. Be bold. Take risks. I cannot begin to tell you how many times I've heard "no" as an actress and now with my screenplay. Keep going!"
3 Min Read
The Armchair Psychologist has all the answers you need!
Help! I Might Get Fired!
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
What's the best way to be prepared for a layoff? Because of the crisis, I am worried that my company is going to let me go soon, what can I do to be prepared? Is now a good time to send resumes? Should I save money? Redesign my website? Be proactive at work? Make myself non-disposable?
- Restless & Jobless
Dear Restless & Jobless,
I'm sorry that you're feeling anxious about your employment status. There are many people like yourself in this pandemic who are navigating an uncertain future, many have already lost their jobs. In my experience as a former professional recruiter for almost a decade, I always told my candidates the importance of periodically being passively on the market. This way, you'd know your worth, and you'd be able to track the market rates that may have changed over time, and sometimes even your job title which might have evolved unbeknownst to you.
This is a great time to reach out to your network, update your online professional presence (LinkedIn etc.), and send resumes. Though I'm not a fan of sending a resume blindly into a large database. Rather, talk to friends or email acquaintances and have them directly introduce you to someone who knows someone at a list of companies and people you have already researched. It's called "working closest to the dollar."
Here's a useful article with some great COVID-times employment tips; it suggests to "post ideas, articles, and other content that will attract and engage your target audience—specifically recruiters." If you're able to, try to steer away from focusing too much on the possibility of getting fired, instead spend your energy being the best you can be at work, and also actively being on the job market. Schedule as many video calls as you can, there's nothing like good ol' face-to-face meetings to get yourself on someone's radar. If your worries get the best of you, I recommend you schedule time with a qualified therapist. When you're ready, lean into that video chat and werk!
- The Armchair Psychologist
HELP! AM I A FRAUD?
Dear Armchair Psychologist,
I'm an independent consultant in NYC. I just filed for unemployment, but I feel a little guilty collecting because a) I'm not looking for a job (there are none anyway) and b) the company that will pay just happens to be the one that had me file a W2 last year; I've done other 1099 work since then.
I'm sorry that you're wracked with guilt. It's admirable that your conscience is making you re-evaluate whether you are entitled to "burden the system" so to speak as a state's unemployment funds can run low. Shame researchers, like Dr. Brené Brown, believe that the difference between shame and guilt is that shame is often rooted in the self/self-worth and is often destructive whereas guilt is based on one's behavior and compels us to do better. "I believe that guilt is adaptive and helpful – it's holding something we've done or failed to do up against our values and feeling psychological discomfort."
Your guilt sounds like a healthy problem. Many people feel guilty about collecting unemployment benefits because of how they were raised and the assumption that it's akin to "seeking charity." You're entitled to your unemployment benefits, and it was paid into a fund for you by your employer with your own blood, sweat, and tears. Also, you aren't committing an illegal act. The benefits are there to relieve you in times when circumstances prevent you from having a job. Each state may vary, but the NY State Department of Labor requires that you are actively job searching. The Cares Act which was passed in March 2020 also may provide some relief. I recommend that you collect the relief you need but to be sure that you meet the criteria by actively searching for a job just in case anyone will hire you.
- The Armchair Psychologist