Talking Early Years with June O’Sullivan: in Conversation with Charlotte Riley

March 8th 2022

Time to Put Childcare in the Spotlight

When do you hear the words ‘actor’ and ‘childcare’ in the same sentence? Rarely, according to actor Charlotte Riley, Founder of The Wonderworks, the world’s first childcare provider dedicated to the families who work in front of, and behind the camera.

Whilst filming on-set with her newborn son, Charlotte became very aware of how the lack of childcare was detrimental to the careers of so many women and men working in the film industry. She soon recognised that the kind efforts to support her bringing her baby on set could work for the lead actor but it was not an option for the hundreds of others who form the essential production team – without which no film or programme could ever be produced.

It’s no surprise then that the film industry has a culture of long hours, short term contracts and travelling to many locations which is not conducive to family life. In fact, according to Charlotte sector research showed that having a child had negatively affected the careers of 79% of women in film industry.

Charlotte’s solution

With this in mind, Charlotte wanted a practical solution. Whilst there are nurseries on the big sets in the US, this was not happening here in the UK and so with the support of many people, Charlotte created the full-time nursery at Warner Bros studios in Leavesden during 2020. A year later, The WonderWorks launched the first mobile educational facility delivering outstanding childcare to productions shooting on-location.

Interestingly, the subject of childcare for the UK film industry has been a catalyst for deeper conversations such as breast-feeding, menopause and ageism. These expose barriers which foolishly ignore members of the population who, with some small tweaks, could work for longer and continue to contribute to both society and the economy successfully.

An improving industry

That being said, the overall outcome is looking positive. The film industry in the UK is booming and more large companies such as Disney are following Warner Bros and doing many more productions from their studios. This means parents who work in the industry and able to commit to more studio work which ensure that the studios have a regular reliable film crew. This is essential because like every other sector, they are struggling for staff too. So, it looks like childcare is making lots of things come together with all the magic of a Mary Poppins!

Look out for Charlotte latest TV series: The Peripheral on Amazon

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