The snapshot, taken during a Hadestown intermission by photographer Emilio Madrid, racked up thousands of likes last year

By Jen Juneau
February 05, 2020 08:00 AM

Amber Gray doesn’t have an agenda — she just wants other working moms to know they’re not alone.

The Hadestown actress, 38, was captured backstage during intermission last spring multitasking as she prepared for Act II of her show. In the powerful image, taken by photographer Emilio Madrid, Gray is shown applying makeup while using a hands-free dual breast pump.

Gray opens up about the reactions to the photograph in the ALL ARTS series Famous Cast Words, recalling Madrid telling her after capturing the moment that he’d send those photos directly to her.

“I realized he wasn’t planning on submitting them to his editor as pieces to actually put into the world and I was like, ‘This is what I do every single intermission, and have done since 2016,’ ” says the mom of two. ” ‘You can put this into the world, and this is just working motherhood.’ “

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Amber Gray
Emilio Madrid-Kuser
Amber Gray in Hadestown
Walter McBride/Getty

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“Lots of people do this. There’s nothing weird here,” Gray adds of the picture, which has racked up thousands of likes and a large number of supportive comments on Instagram.

“I would love a moment when that photo does not go viral — when it’s not empowering to people, it’s just normal,” the Tony nominee says. “And people were like, ‘What’s your agenda?’ I’m like, ‘There’s no agenda. A quarter of the world are working mothers. It’s just normal life.’ “

Gray previously spoke with PEOPLE over the summer last year, revealing that doing eight shows a week as a mom to two toddlers was “wild,” especially considering one of her children was going to the hospital often at the time.

But there was a “silver lining” to the situation’s timing, she noted: “It makes award season not so stressful because my stress has gone someplace else.”

Amber Gray in Hadestown

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“I’ve had way less anxiety, around all of the awards stuff and the press stuff at this time, than I thought I would. But that is because I’m worrying about something else … that is more important to me,” said the actress and singer.

“My highs are not as high and my lows are not as low the older I get, about anything,” Gray added. “And here’s the moment in my career that I’ve always wanted, and always dreamt of, and it’s here. And it feels very celebratory, but I also feel like my feet are very much still on the ground. It’s like I have felt all of the emotion in the past month.”

Hosted by actor and writer Lynne Marie Rosenberg, Famous Cast Words premieres Feb. 19 at 8 p.m. ET on the ALL ARTS broadcast channel. It will also debut Wednesday at 12 p.m. on the ALL ARTS streaming app, YouTube channel and Facebook pages, as well as at allarts.org.

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