As lockdown begins to lift, we've all been reflecting back on the lessons we've learned about ourselves and others in the pandemic. For Nina Wadia OBE, it's been spending time with family and regaining that sense of wonder that's really struck a chord.
"When you first have a kid, you are fascinated by everything that they do, but that fades over time," the actor explains. "But it’s been a positive that the pandemic brought back.
She speaks to Good Housekeeping about what she's learned in the past 14 months, the peril of ugly shoes following her around and her social media comic creation, Lockdown Mutha - a wryly observant take on motherhood...
I have really seen the important role TV plays in supporting mental health. The entertainment industry has taken such a big hit. When the pandemic began, there was a big debate about whether entertainment was an essential industry and if we really needed it. Actually, for people’s mental health, yes, we clearly do – people have turned to it like never before.
Lockdown Mutha, which I created during the pandemic, became a much-needed creative outlet for me. I do short sketches on social media about a stressed mum, and it gave my teenagers free rein in the house to be mean to Mum for no apparent reason.The character literally came out of boredom and general frustration.
I wanted to put something out there to make people smile and I get comments all the time to say thank you. If I can cheer someone up for just 10 seconds in a day, I feel I am doing something positive. It was also a real bonding exercise for me with all my mum friends, too, and it has been something we have laughed about together.
Spending so much time with family over the past year has been a real learning curve. I have regained that sense of wonder about my teens, Tia and Aidan, that I had when they were tiny. When you first have a kid, you are fascinated by everything that they do, but that fades over time. But it’s been a positive that the pandemic brought back.
My daughter wants to be a fashion designer – when did she get so good? We bought her this little secondhand sewing machine, and now she is taking my son’s rugby shirt and turning it into a really cool tank top. She is really talented. I have regained the amazement about them and what they are capable of.
Getting the message across to the Asian community about having the vaccine was so important to me. I have been doing work with the NHS for years with organ donation and blood transfusions, and I was part of a video campaign encouraging the Asian community to have the vaccine. For some reason, there has been a lot of reluctance around getting vaccinated and I wanted to help convey that by having it you protect not only yourself and your family, but also everyone else around you.
I felt privileged that I was able to work for some of the time and have that release. Everyone on the set of a show I was working on was so hyper because we were just excited to be around other people who weren’t our own families. We really found the little things so amusing. For example, in my entire career, I have always been given the ugliest shoes to wear in every role. I was filming and realised we all had ugly shoes. So, I took a picture and put it on my Instagram. Little things like that have really helped lift me.
Too Close continues on ITV at 9pm and is available to watch on the ITV Hub.
You can follow Nina on Instagram here.
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