angela "in alignment"

by Jess Salgueiro

I first met Angela Besharah when she was hired to rig the lights for a play I produced.  I looked at this foxy theatre tech as she expertly maneuvered herself 15 feet above the stage like a lithe acrobat.  I thought damn, I wanna know her. Who is she?

Fast forward a few months later,  and she would be directing me in a play with a lot of heart and a lot of sex, so needless to say we go to know each other.  After such an intimate and FUN! experience, I was hooked on Ange and her directorial style. We became fast buds as I came to her more and more incessantly for audition coaching— and maybe some life advice and wisdom.

 First Headshot.

First Headshot.

Ange grew up in Ottawa, a relatively odd kid and teenager, she was discovered as a model at 15 and spent her teens travelling the world. She lived in Italy, Germany, Taiwan and Japan until finally she decided to try her hand at acting.  She was a natural and has enjoyed a flourishing career in theatre, film and television. She’s been directing theatre for 15 years and in the past 5 has moved into film. Around the same time she also started coaching and the actors of Toronto could NOT be more grateful.  

She’s the kind of coach that does not position herself above you, but always comes to the work as a colleague.  She follows her intuition and offers suggestions from a place of love and support. She doesn’t think you have to break someone down to build them up; and as an actor in this city that is definitely a breath of fresh air.

Oh and she’s also pregnant.  Pregnant and not married and certainly not changing her artistic career pursuits anytime soon.   She’s 6 weeks away from delivering and has a tight knit group of family, friends and students rallying around her. 

At her baby shower/mother blessing (learn more about that here) one of her students said, “When I first started taking Ange’s class years ago I said to someone- Damn, she’s gonna be a great mother.”  Her nurturing energy has always drawn people to her - and choosing to raise this baby (in an arguably unconventional way) “feels in complete alignment” says Ange.

As we opened gifts from her friends and family last night I asked her some questions.

What would you have said if I told you a year ago that you would be here right now?

Ha. I would have said yeah, right. That’s funny.  It seemed out of the realm of possibilities for so many reasons. My age being one of them. My lack of sperm-partner being another one.  Birthing a baby has never been a number one priority. I’ve always leaned on adopting later in life.

During your pregnancy, what transformation has surprised you the most?

Giving way less fucks. Putting her and therefore myself first in a way that I never have before. It manifests in being careful where I put my time and energy; what I involve myself in; and saying no more often.

 Ange and her momma.

Ange and her momma.

What is the one thing you want her to know that no one told you?

You can do anything. My mom has always been supportive but within rational reason. Never just full steam ahead - go for it, cause she had her own fears. That is definitely something I am excited to bring into my baby’s life.  A huge part of having a life in the arts is just having the confidence to do it. I would love to somehow instil in her the power of thought, power of manifestation. If you can truly believe it, you can make it happen, but you have to TRULY believe it, and that’s one of the hardest things to do.

 All Grown Up.

All Grown Up.

Was there a mourning of your single self?

My single self is still here! My non-child self? No. I’ve been having a damn good time for 40 years.  Obviously there will be shifts, but she’s gonna be my traveling buddy, no doubt. I think about how surprising it was when I realized I was pregnant and I was like okay! Then when she stayed with me after those first few months, I was like Okay! This is the new adventure.

Maybe this is denial but I really don’t see my freedoms as disappearing, Obviously I want to make sure she has stability but I want her to see the world, I want her to know what’s out there, because for me thats what benefited me the most in my life.  My travels and my freedom helped me grow as a human and be of service to other people.

Since I knew that I was going to be doing this as a single mom, while remaining an artist and not compromising or leaving any of that behind - the image that I keep going back to was when I visited Peru and got to see a lot of Inca women.   They were working while their babies were strapped to them, and now I have this image of my baby right there along for the ride and more and more I’m seeing my community fostering that. All that said, I’m sure when she’s born there will be days when I mourn, “Girl! What were you thinking?”

How did you feel when you knew you were having a girl?

Awesome. I knew before the ultrasound. When they told me I just said yup!  With everything that’s going on right now, with the amazing female community around me, with who I am and what I try to foster - I think having a girl is just right. Nothing against the gents.

Everything seems to be in alignment with it. Somedays I recognize that this is alternative, but it doesn’t feel alternative to me. I’m lucky to have the community around me that supports that. Sometimes when I step outside of it I do get the - “What? You’re doing WHAT?!”

How do you navigate that?

There have been a couple times when I’ve been around people who are religious or even antiquated doctors that refer to my husband even after I’ve been clear and filled out the form and stated not married. At some points I just smile and nod, but when it’s someone closer to me, I just say “No man, this is great, this is a possibility." I’m okay being an example (of single motherhood).

I feel that there’s so much in the media that talks about the heartache of being in a pregnant body (and it is of course difficult- no doubt), but what do you find about your body right now that is really beautiful?

I was lucky with no morning sickness, and an easy second trimester, in the third I am now noticing things like whose ankles are those?  I did this campaign recently celebrating every woman. I was there representing the pregnant body type, in my underwear most of the time. It took me a bit to ease in, but the atmosphere of celebrating diverse women from different ethnic backgrounds, body sizes, and also transgendered was incredible and I soon realized how beautiful I did feel.  Being the woman there with another woman growing inside of her was quite a special event. Seeing this belly grow, feeling the things inside.

Are you scared?

You’re the fourth person to ask me that this week. No.

Just one foot in front of the other.  I’ve been through a lot of things in life, and there is always another side where I come out stronger. I know all of those events are assisting me on this journey now. I really haven’t been scared. I’m not. How many women have done this before me? This is what our bodies are meant to do. Just push on through.

 Angela at her Mother Blessing with friend Tyrone and baby Betty giving the baby-to-be some love

Angela at her Mother Blessing with friend Tyrone and baby Betty giving the baby-to-be some love

Angela Besharah is an actress, director, photographer and acting coach. Find out about classes, films and future projects at https://www.angelabesharah.com

Jessica Salgueiro