Right now, Louisa Lytton’s life is quite demanding. The former EastEnders actor is eager to return to work after an extended maternity break and is preparing to embark on a 12-week theatre tour.
It will require extended periods of separation from her daughter Aura, who turns two this week. Louisa is juggling conflicting emotions that most working mothers will be familiar with. She admits, “I’m a mixed bag of emotions.” “I’m thrilled to be working again. Choosing to go on tour for a few months was a major decision. I’m torn, though, because I’m also going to miss Aura and the existence I’ve known for the previous two years.
For the first time since leaving Aura, Louisa, 34, made a brief comeback to the stage in November of last year for a five-performance run of The Vagina Monologues in Cheltenham. After the second performance, she travelled 100 miles through the night back to London to spend some time with her before heading back for the next evening’s performance since she missed her daughter so much.
“I needed to see her,” she explains. “The feeling of that need is difficult to describe. It is a really tangible, tactile experience. Aura was enjoying the time of her life and was completely fine. All of it was my doing. I’ve always wanted to be a mother, but having a child makes you realise just how much you can love someone.
There won’t be many opportunities this time for a quick run home. Following in the footsteps of Lily Allen, Jaime Winstone, and Cheryl Tweedy, Louisa will play Jenny. The acclaimed touring production of the eerie drama 2:22 A Ghost Story debuts this week in Bath before travelling the UK.
Ben Bhanvra, a 32-year-old businessman who can work remotely, will frequently bring his wife Aura along when she travels. But balancing all of those balls will be difficult. Aura will begin daycare two days a week, and on the other days, she’ll either be with my mother or visiting me with Ben, according to Louisa. “Ben will watch over her in the evening while I’m performing the programme, and I’ll have the days free to be with her while he works.
We’re simply working it out week by week and playing it by ear, but some weeks I’ll be able to commute. The fact that I was able to take time off after Aura was born was a true blessing. Being with her has undoubtedly changed my life for the better because I knew I couldn’t get that time back.
Louisa has, however, enjoyed getting back into rehearsals because they have confirmed how much she loves acting. She claims, “I didn’t realised how much I’d missed it. “I’ve loved working with talented people again, being creative, and having adult conversations! I’m now certain that going back to work at this moment is the best course of action.
As a new mother, you’re under a lot of strain and are constantly being tugged in numerous directions. In the acting and theatre worlds, where job sharing is frequently an option, I do believe that things are changing. My experience suggests that there is more tolerance for working mothers, and our director for 2:22 has been fantastic in that regard.
Having a helpful companion is also beneficial. When Louisa was on tour with Grease in 2017, a mutual friend set them together, and they have been together ever then.
She recalls adding, “I was never going to meet anyone again. I had just ended a relationship.” “I had had enough. Ben, however, quickly changed everything. After a few months, we moved in together, and today I hardly remember my life before meeting him. He seemed to have been there continuously. My prior relationship had helped me discover who I was and what I was capable of, and Ben is simply such a unique, kind person.
After being forced to postpone their wedding twice by Covid, they became engaged in 2019 and wed in Tuscany last summer. We finally made it, she exclaims. “We had intended to get married before trying for a child. With Covid, though, we just chose to go the other way because we weren’t sure when the rules would change.
“We planned to watch what happened, and it did! Additionally, it meant that Aura attended our wedding, which was great. Has their relationship changed in any way after getting married?No, I don’t believe it has to be at all sincere. We may have felt like such a solid unit because we had a baby.
“Watching Ben with Aura has just deepened my love for him. She adores him dearly and thinks he is the most amazing father. And the fact that he is so supportive of what I do makes me very fortunate.
Even though Louisa claims to be permanently “shattered,” she still has the same youthful appearance and hasn’t changed much since she first appeared on EastEnders in 2005 as mobster Ruby Allen’s daughter. She attributes that to having decent genes. “That’s where it comes from; my mum and dad both look young. Mind, that’s troubling because I’ve recently stopped getting my ID checked in stores,” she quips.
“This newest part is the first I’ve had where I’m truly portraying my age and playing a mum. I’m not sure if looking youthful is a benefit or not in this field. It could indicate that I have a longer career because I can play younger roles, or it could indicate that it takes me longer to advance to those major female leads.
Louisa runs a successful apparel company called Aura Soul London outside of performing. It was founded during maternity leave and is named after her daughter. It sells clothing with a neutral colour scheme so that the entire family, both male and female, may coordinate. It’s really taken off, she says. “The other day, a buddy texted me from Italy, and they said that someone was wearing our dungarees! That’s quite incredible considering that it originally involved taking a small risk.
I’ve always had other businesses and jobs since acting isn’t necessarily a full-time job. In between rehearsals, I handle emails and manage our social media, but we’re working on our second collection, and I’m incredibly proud of it.
Louisa has no intentions to return to Albert Square for a third stint after leaving EastEnders for the second time in 2021 while expecting both on-screen and in real life. However, she is not completely ruling it out.
“Story-wise, I could probably pull it off. Since Ruby was expecting, a child may be on the way to Walford, and James Bye [Martin Fowler], who at the time played my husband, is still a cast member. Who knows, then? I got my start on EastEnders, and I liked it there, so I’d never rule it out.
Louisa, who played PC Beth Green in The Bill, is currently concentrating on 2:22, which she had not watched prior to signing up. In fact, she was scheduled to visit Jake Wood, an original cast member of EastEnders, in 2021. But I couldn’t watch a scary movie because I was very pregnant at the time and I didn’t want my waters to break!
I went to watch Jaime Winstone in the role of Jenny before we started rehearsing, and I’m so glad I did because not only was she incredible, but the production itself is spectacular with all the jump scares, lighting, and music. Louisa knows she is following in some huge shoes, but she wants to own the part.
It’s a totally different show from anything that has come before, she explains, because we are a brand-new cast. “I want to create my own Jenny. It’s a really fantastic script. “I’ll grow as an actor and as a person as long as I’m taking on projects I’m proud of and which push me,” she continues. I’m just hoping that this is the beginning of a busy period. I am prepared for it.