Thank You, Mom!
My career as an actress began with filming TV commercials when I was only 5 years old. Compared to most children that age, my days were pretty busy. In addition to the days when I was working, filming a project, or shooting a print ad, I spent many days going out on castings and auditions. Sometimes, I had four or five auditions in a single day.
At the same time, I squeezed in gymnastics, kung-fu, and dance classes, and Mandarin Chinese school on weekends. My schedule was hectic, my life was really busy, but I loved every moment and never wanted to stop. As a matter of fact, I was always asking for even more activities to squeeze into my life! My parents would say to me that I could continue to pursue these undertakings only if I maintained good grades, so I made sure I did well in school too!
Looking back today, I realize that one of the main reasons I was so happy and in love with my schedule was because my mom went out of her way to make it fun for me. She had a list of regular “excursions” balanced with new “adventures.” When we went to gymnastics, kung-fu, or dance classes, we would walk through Chinatown in New York City, where we would share a bubble tea, discover new foods, or visit local Chinese markets.
We also had “Spanish-only” days, where we would communicate exclusively in Spanish for the entire day. After auditions, we would stop in bookstores and read together, find a new park to play in, get in a little shopping, eat at a really cool place, catch a theatre show or live cultural performance, or just explore the neighborhoods – Chelsea, SoHo, Greenwich Village, Times Square. Wherever we found ourselves, we had a great time because my mom knew me so well, loved me so much, and put her heart and soul into making every day together special.
I am so grateful to my mom and I realize that those experiences we shared and continue to share not only bond us as mother and daughter, but provide me with so many benefits. Helping me navigate my busy schedule and demanding that I maintain good grades at that young age gave me discipline that helps me succeed academically and in my professional acting career – even as demands have grown exponentially. Her support of my pursuit of gymnastics, even when it seemed impossible to find the time, helped me not just to win lots of medals at competitions, but develop strength, grace, confidence, and power – tools that are so important for young women in all aspects of our lives. Our "Spanish-only days and getting up early on Saturday mornings for Mandarin Chinese school ensured my fluency in Spanish and created many opportunities to communicate with others and understand different cultures. Our little excursions weren’t just fun, but helped me to appreciate the splendor and diversity of New York City, develop an appreciation of the arts and culture, and learn to navigate my city on my own.
On this Mother's Day, I am so grateful for the love and dedication of my mom.
In many parts of the world, mothers are struggling with the reality that they are HIV-positive and risk passing the infection along to their babies during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding – which is preventable.
EGPAF Ambassador Fatima Ptacek is 13 years old and lives with her family in New York City.