"I deeply, deeply love performing now, in a way that I didn't even know was possible before I had children," says the actress

By Nigel Smith
June 05, 2019 02:53 PM
Amber Gray in Hadestown
Walter McBride/Getty

As the wife of Hades, God of the Underworld, in the Tony-nominated hit musical Hadestown, Amber Gray is taking over Broadway.

She netted her first Tony nomination for the show (Hadestown received the most nods of the year with 14 total) two years after bursting onto the scene with Natasha, Pierre and the Great Comet of 1812.

Keeping the 38-year-old actress grounded during Tonys season are her two children (one 3, the other under a year old) — and as Gray tells PEOPLE, she wouldn’t have it any other way.

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What’s it been like doing 8 shows a week as a mom to two toddlers?

I think that the first time my kid went into the hospital was during nomination time. The only silver lining there, is that it makes award season not so stressful because my stress has gone someplace else. He’s been admitted three times during this whole season. It’s really wild. And 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.

My highs are not as high and my lows are not as low the older I get, about anything. 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.

Hadestown

You’ve been attached to this show for years during its developmental stage. What’s it like to have the final product be received in this way?

It’s beautiful. And the wild thing about this show is that if they weren’t responding in that way, I would still be having a great time doing it, because the show really turns me on. And I have been in many pieces of theater that turn me on that I’ve stayed with for a long time, that audiences don’t always go crazy for. So, again, when those things align it’s just like icing on the cake. It feels really good, super fun to go out there every night because it’s like you are in a rock concert. Those fans scream every night. It’s wild. Its mind-boggling sometimes.

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Is your performance-time a nice escape for you, given all that’s going on in your life?

Yeah. That time on stage is my sacred, selfish, meditation time. And I deeply, deeply love performing now, in a way that I didn’t even know was possible before I had children. It’s the only time in my day that I get by myself. I’m still with other people, and I’m still in some kind of communion, or community. I have noticed in the past 10 months, since having a second kid, it’s probably the only moment of my day where I am actually listening, and looking, and slowing down, and paying attention to how I breathe, because the rest of my day is just insane multitasking and managing of other humans. It makes me laugh.

It’s the most singular event in my day. I just have that one thing to do, and I don’t have to think about it. I can just let my body and voice do it, and it’s awesome.

Hadestown's Patrick Page, Eva Noblezada, Reeve Carney, Amber Gray and Andre de Shields
Walter McBride/Getty

Being a Broadway performer is akin to being an athlete. How do you stay in shape?

I think most Broadway singers have an ENT — an ear, nose and throat doctor — that they’re obsessed with and see religiously. I see mine once a week and I have a second one that I see for other reasons. They both are good at different things. And I actually have been coming down with a cold that’s manifesting in different ways right now. I have been to the doctor twice today to just try to knock it out.

You have to very much so pay attention to things like that. Like staying on top of sicknesses, and try to knock them out right away when you get them, because if you get sick it’s really hard to sing. And you have to know your body well. Its definitely like being an athlete.

For me, rest is crucial. Which has been a little bit tricky this past month, with my kid being in the hospital, and with doing all this extra press stuff around awards season. You just have to know your body. Some people can’t drink alcohol at all. Some people can’t have any kind of dairy. You have to know what your triggers are. For me, it’s sleep, sleep, sleep. I need eight hours of sleep every night, and try my damnedest to get it.

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