Julie Kottakis is a talented and funny Beyond Mom. She is a comedian, writer, lawyer and single mom. She is currently the host of the web series, Madge the Vag, on Scarymommy.com. Her solo play, Does This Dress Make Me Look Alone, debuted in the 2014 NY Fringe Festival. Julie shares with Beyond Mom how writing jokes around trivial or monumental issues helps her keeps things in perspective. After all, there’s nothing like embracing the humor in life! Julie can be seen performing stand up all over New York City and the surrounding area and on Fox’s Laughs TV.
What makes me a Beyond Mom?
When I was pregnant, I made a pact with myself to be the best example I could be for my child, while making sure my own fulfillment was still a priority. By default, I am my child’s mother, but by choice I am an independent, creative, hard working woman. When I got pregnant, I was in my third year of law school and I had just started doing stand up in New York City. Although, I knew there would be challenges in being a mother and pursuing a legal career and stand up career, I wasn’t deterred. I did stand up with a big belly and was more inspired and creative than ever with each new obstacle and change that was presented to me. In law school, I decided to focus on family law matters, with an emphasis on women’s rights. After I had my daughter, my choices were different as were my priorities, but the end goals were always the same. It is now six years later and my daughter is a thriving first grader and I am now earning money as both a lawyer and a comedian.
What are the parts of you that have grown and expanded since becoming a Mom?
I am raising my child on my own. When you make that decision you are also making a decision to stick up for that choice. As a mother whether single or not, we are questioned and judged by friends, loved ones, strangers, etc. on various parenting decision. I have come to trust my instincts and decisions on what is best for my family. Becoming a Mom is extremely empowering. Mothers with careers are still judged differently than fathers and I’ve seen this in the comedy community. While there are numerous dads who do stand up, they are never asked “where is your kid?” when they are at a show as I was on a constant basis. My levels of decisiveness and assertiveness have only gotten stronger as a Mom.
Can you share a collaboration/success story with another woman; what helped the collaboration become successful?
Working in the comedy field, which is heavily male dominated, I constantly work with other women in an effort to equal the playing field. I have worked with other women on creative projects and always made sure to recommend women for opportunities when they arise. This has included fellow comedian moms. When it comes to fighting sexism in any field of work, I have found you can go at it alone and find success, or you can work together and show how capable women are through each and every one of our successes as a team.
What relationships help you stay connected to yourself?
To stay grounded, I make certain to nurture those relationships that mean the most to me and they are varied. Of course, my relationship with my daughter is always at the forefront. My family is of high importance to me, more now than ever and of course my friends, those I can talk to about anything without judgment. Those who understand that as a mother, I can get upset, get frustrated and be simply human. Without those outlets, where you can have honest discussions about your challenges, I find it’s much harder to get over those humps. There’s nothing wrong with having flaws or making mistakes. It’s how you deal with those things.
Do you have a ‘Beyond’ dream that you are pursuing?
I promised myself when I got pregnant, that I would not throw away my hope and dreams. I had started doing stand up right before I got pregnant and saw no reason why I shouldn’t continue doing it. The way I am pursuing a career in comedy is most likely different from someone who is not a parent, but that doesn’t change the end goal. When you are surrounded by peers, it’s hard not to compare yourself. Unless comparing yourself is a motivator, the most important thing you can do when working towards a goal is focus on your progress.
What wellness activity can you not live without? What is one thing you do daily that balances you?
I must write. Everyday, I have to write. I write in the form of jokes, but those jokes are more than often dealing with some issue, whether trivial or monumental, that is happening to me or around me. Writing is how I put things into perspective. I write and create on a daily basis and I share my writing, whether through the form of a joke or a video on social media or on a stage. There is constant feedback and that can be good or bad, but it is connecting with others. Much of this process is about being self aware, reflective, honest and vulnerable. It’s been a great tool in helping me grow as a person.
How does style influence the way you stay feeling ‘Beyond’? Who is currently your favorite designer?
I don’t buy any particular brand, but my style is always soft and comforting. Someone described my style as bohemian. Someone once said I look like I could go out or take a nap (this is my favorite one). I often shop at high end thrift stores in Brooklyn. My goal is always to find the most comfortable clothing I can wear without looking like I just got out of bed.
Favorite Local Spots that Embody The Beyond Mom:
My favorite local spots are cozy and warm. I live in Brooklyn and they have some of the most charming spots with decor that feel homey and artistic. I love going to local spots that have outdoor spaces where the kids can run around and parents can get adult conversation in.
Beyond Cocktails and/or Food:
I’m huge fan of beer. I love going to breweries and trying various kinds of new beers. As for food, I love cooking and that is actually one of my favorite healing, stress relieving activities. I also like the control of substituting healthier ingredients. Although I’m not vegetarian or vegan, I tend towards cooking as if I am.
My workout consists of running around with my daughter at the local Y and playing basketball. I also jog and walk with my dog in Prospect Park.
I love Fairway. It’s my favorite place to go grocery shopping. The one in Redhook is fantastic because you can take a break from shopping to snack outside with a view of the river.