When she wasn't filming, Vicki Lawrence was a real 'Mama' at home
Vicki Lawrence may have been the head of the household in her TV series Mama's Family, but she had another starring role as a mama elsewhere. She was the mom of three TV children and had two of her own at home in real life.
Mama's Family started as a sketch called "The Family" on The Carol Burnett Show before it was made into a half-hour long TV spin-off series. After five years of performing it on The Carol Burnett Show, Lawrence perfected the character.
In a 1987 interview with The Sacramento Bee, Lawrence talked about her children in real life, who were just 10 and 12 years old at the time. Her family included: her son Garrett, her daughter Courtney and her husband, Al Schultz.
While Lawrence was in the role of Mama, she became the mom to her own two children and, in a way, to all '80s kids who watched the series. In the interview, she said everyone knew her from Mama's Family, but her favorite role was playing a different mom.
"I really feel my family is my priority," Lawrence said. "Usually when the kids get home from school, I'm here. Sometimes I even have cookies baking. With the weeks in between series shooting, I can attend school functions. Yes, I love playing mom."
The Emmy-winning actress said she struggled with finding a work-life balance. As if being an actress wasn't already enough to handle, Lawrence added on the additional pressures of having children and a husband at home.
"It can get to where we're working too much together and not playing enough," Lawrence said. "We have to keep reminding each other to play more, and we have to put down a mandate that 'we won't talk business tonight.'"
Because the Mama's Family cast and crew worked so well together, Lawrence said she was able to adjust her daily schedule for her kids. Where some shows may not have the option, at Mama's Family, Lawrence was able to work from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. each day, except Friday.
This part-time schedule helped Lawrence be a mom to everyone involved. According to the interview, she was asked if she would ever consider taking on a more time-consuming role. She was asked about the 1987 TV series Beauty and the Beast in this example.
"They tape 14-hour days, maybe six days a week," Lawrence said. "And I thought, I don't know if I could do it. I don't know if you can have a personal life while working those hours. I look at someone like Cybill Shepherd and wonder how often she gets to see her family. I know I'm incredibly lucky to be where I am."
Not having a normal schedule was nothing out of the ordinary for Lawrence. She started working with Carol Burnett when she was only 18 and fresh out of high school. Once she started acting, she left all normalcy at the door.
"Mama is like a cat," Lawrence said. "Every time I think she's dead, she pops back up with a new life. TV's been good to me. Most of the cast and crew on Mama's Family have been together since the Burnett days, so we work really well together. It's like I'm being paid to pretend I'm in show business."
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