Think back to your childhood… Did you want to be an actress? An inventor? A TV or movie director? A mom?
Listen in as we chat with one of the directors of the TeenNick hit series, The Naked Brothers Band; the developer of a celebrity-lauded, all-natural diaper cream; a director of the critically-acclaimed HBO series, In Treatment; and the Emmy award-winning actress who played the memorable Melissa on thirtysomething…all wrapped up in one remarkable, overachieving mom, Melanie Mayron.
Mommy Tracked: You’re a fellow mom…could I start by asking you to share a little bit about your children?
Melanie Mayron: I have two great wonderful kids, a girl and a boy. I love them madly; they're fantastic, healthy and so, so special. I am a very lucky gal.
Most of us recognize your face immediately from your Emmy award-winning role on thirtysomething. Do you keep in touch with any of your former castmates?
We do keep in touch off and on over the years. I worked with Peter Horton in the first feature film I directed, The Baby-Sitter's Club for Columbia Pictures. It starred Sissy Spacek's daughter, Schuyler Fisk, who is getting acclaim these days as a singer/songwriter. I also got to direct Peter again on last year's HBO series starring Gabriel Byrne and Diane Wiest, In Treatment.
Polly Draper hired me to direct a half season and she [would] direct the other half of a hit series she created for Teen Nick on Nickelodeon based on her two sons, Nat and Alex Wolf, called The Naked Brothers Band. I worked with her for three seasons on that show. So we got to hang out a LOT! We had a ball! My kids went with me to New York the first season and had the opportunity to hang out with Nat and Alex and the rest of the band for a few weeks. That was a very big experience for them. They got to be in one of the shows playing "friends of the band," and when the show aired all their friends from school saw them on TV. It was a HUGE deal.
Tim Busfield hired me last season to act in two episodes of Lipstick Jungle on NBC, playing an Annie Liebowitz type photographer. Really it was like playing Melissa 2.0 nineteen years later ... I had a blast. And then I actually got to direct an episode last September where the three gals go to a bed and breakfast upstate for the weekend. Christine Ebersole played the owner of the bed and breakfast. It was terrific fun.
Any particularly fun tales to share from the thirtysomething experience?
Last year Tylenol did this ad campaign about staying healthy and living right and exercising and they asked the four gals from thirtysomething to do it. We did some interviews and press and got to spend the whole day together like the ole days when we were shooting the show. It was like NO TIME had passed and there we were just yakking, the four of us. One of the most special things about thirtysomething (aside from the brilliant writing and directing and production value and acting!) was the fact that our ensemble of actors loved each other so much and got along so well together — there were never any trips like we so often hear about on other shows. We were all so grateful we had been hired! And that people everywhere liked it so much, well that was just the icing on the cake!
Many successful actors declare that they want to direct, but few – very few – make that transition at all, much less with comparable, if not surpassing, success. You have! How did you do it?
Well I got my chance to direct at the end of the third season [of thirtysomething]. I had been pestering Ed Zwick and Marshal Herskovitz about it ever since the end of the first season, and they finally gave me a shot, which was incredible of them. The episode was about Elliot directing for the first time, and here I was directing for the first time as well, kind of like "method directing!" Anyway, Ed and Marshal were very pleased with the episode, and they gave me another one the beginning of the fourth, and what turned out to be our last, season. After the show went off the air, I started to get a ton of directing work . . . which was fantastic.
Do you think parenting requires more acting, or more directing?
I think it requires both. I love my kids; I have a built in trapped audience with them. They can't escape . . . I am always doing mime routines for them and have taught some mime to their classmates even. I'm like the mom-clown, which I am very happy with. But the directing skills kick in when it comes to managing two breakfasts, two snacks, two lunches and two kids — getting the whole operation out the door by 7:30 am.
What would be your dream role to play as an actor?
Oh God . . . I am drawing a blank.
Melissa at fifty-something?
Your dream play/film to direct?
I have several scripts I have been developing. Some historic. All about people's triumph over obstacles. I feel I struggle with that daily. We all do. Triumphing over the daily obstacles of life. We are in the trenches, fighting the good fight to survive, provide for our souls, our kids, keep food on the table and a roof over our heads . . . if I could get any of my projects off the ground it would be a dream come true. As they all mirror my daily struggle, which is an experience we all share.
As the old phrase goes, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” So many women, once becoming mothers, have detected a “necessity” and answered the call. Tell us a bit about how you developed Mayron’s Good Baby .
I was trying to get pregnant in 1995-96, and was dealing with fertility issues for two and a half years. During that time, my sister and my dad were putting out a product, an antibacterial hand cleaner called JAO. It's like Purell, but all natural with essential oils. It's the high-end hand sanitizer. Well, I got to looking around since I had "baby" on the brain and realized that there were no "natural" baby skin care products out there . . . and I had free research and development in my dad. My dad, David Mayron, is a pretty incredible chemist, and actually has one of the patents on the time release tablet, if you can believe that. So we started with a zinc-based, all natural and loaded with vitamins and great oils and PARABEN FREE, diaper/diaper rash cream and have been continuously refining it for over twelve years now. I just manufactured a batch last fall and we are just starting to get it out there.
So your dad is a scientist! How did he respond when you decided to pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
That was when I was fourteen, fifteen. I grew up in suburban Philly. Dad was really pushing me to go to college and get a degree as a pharmacist. He said a lot of women were running pharmacies . . . I just couldn't see myself doing it.
Would you want your kids to go into “the business”? Why or why not?
They kind of are "naturals." But they've been around it their whole lives, going on sets or visiting their friends on sets...
Which Hollywood parents do you admire, and why?
All of them. As a Hollywood parent myself, I know how hard it can be to maintain a career in this business with the crazy work hours and still be there for your kids. It's tough but you can do it — especially if you have help.
You are so busy! How do you find balance between your professional life and your personal life?
First off you have to make sure you raise wonderful kids who understand that their parents have to make a living. The thing about show business is that when I have a directing gig I am not around much except totally on weekends, but when I am not working I am home all the time . . . sometimes they ask me when my next job is because they are sick of having me around. So I think it all balances out in the end.
What do you do to relax?
Watch movies with my kids. We love musicals.
Do you ever find yourself a victim of “mommy guilt?”
Only when I am on a job and working late nights or early mornings and I hardly get to see my kids. That's hard. Getting on set by 7am and having to leave at 5:30am before everyone is up or getting home late after they are in bed. Then, I miss them terribly. And I invite them to have lunch with me but they never want to come. They know how boring it can be on a film or TV set.
Of all your achievements, which one makes your children the proudest?
When I made up song sheets for the Big Rock Creek 2-day overnight trip last spring in third grade. I typed up all these camp songs I remembered as a kid and passed them out and taught it to all the kids. I also taught them all some mime. I was real popular . . . and heard tell that the kids were calling me a "pretty cool mom."
What is your proudest professional moment?
The night I won the Emmy for thirtysomething.
Proudest Mommy moment?
Seeing their faces for the first time when they were born. I couldn't believe it.
I just couldn't believe they had chosen me.
What’s next on your plate?
More television directing. I do another episode of 90210 this month, and after that, trying to get the movie I co-wrote made — AND trying to get the word out about Mayron’s Good Baby , the best natural and organic baby stuff out there! Got to keep that school tuition paid!
Also on Mommy Track'd about thirtysomething:
Ode to thirtysomething 
thirtysomething Stalker 
thirtysomething - Third Time Definitely a Charm 
Actress and In Treatment director Melanie Mayron was interviewed by Cheryl Lage: The author of Twinspiration: Real-Life Advice from Pregnancy through the First Year , Cheryl Lage is a freelance writer/editor and a full-time mom. Her twin-centric perspectives have appeared in a wide array of print, web and broadcast media including: MSN.com, TWINS, Pregnancy, AmericanBaby.com, Parents.com, ePregnancy.com, Martha Stewart Living Radio, iVillage.com, People’s Celebrity Baby Blog, Richmond Parents Monthly, and her own web support site for parents of twins, Twinsights.com .
Currently, Cheryl Lage lives with her family in Richmond, Virginia, where she is an elementary school room mother — times two! Learn more about Cheryl by visiting her blog, Twinfatuation .
Looking for more interviews with multitalented, multitasking celebrity moms like Melanie Mayron? Don't miss our interviews with actress, author and activist Holly Robinson Peete  and TV personality, director and author Ricki Lake .