To celebrate International Men’s Day 2018 we interviewed Muzz Khan, an actor from Burnley, working in theatre, television, film and radio and a DJ working across the UK and Europe from festivals to weddings. He’s been a professional actor for 14 years and a professional DJ for 11 years. He is currently starring in Me Before You, Catastrophe, Black Mirror, Casualty and The Hatchling.
It’s fair to say that as the father of 1 year old twins and a 3 old son Muzz is a busy guy.
What does a day in the life of Muzz Khan look like?
Crikey! Erm, it’s pretty full-on. I’m a stay-at-home dad. I guess a day in the life goes something like this:
(take a deep breath!)
Twins wake at 7am. Make milk for twins. Feed Twin 1. Feed Twin 2. Eldest son wakes up at 7.30am. Prep porridge for all three. Make my breakfast. Eat my breakfast while porridge cools. Feed twins porridge. Let Eldest eat his. Twin 1 refuses porridge. Battle. Eldest takes a lifetime eating his. Battle. Twin 2 eats hers. Win. Change nappies for everyone. Get wee’d on. Change urinated nappy. Get kicked in face from overzealous baby leg. Bloodied lip. Get them all dressed. Put twins to sleep. 10.30am. Finish feeding Eldest porridge myself. Brush Eldest’s teeth. Stick on lengthy Peppa Pig on Netflix. Let Eldest watch them while I try and grab some zzz’s on the sofa next to him. #Fail. Give Eldest a morning snack. Sneak into kitchen to quickly shove chocolate down my throat. Check emails re: auditions from agent. Download music for tonight’s DJ gig. 12pm. Put dishwasher on. Twins wake up. Prep their lunch. Put Eldest down for morning sleep. Feed twins lunch. Check on Eldest. Still awake. Feed twins dessert. Check on Eldest. Still no sleep. Get him up. Make his lunch. Let twins play. Make my lunch. Read ‘That’s Not My Tractor’ to Eldest. Eat my lunch. Someone has shat through their clothes. And on to me. Must buy bigger nappies. Change Twin 1 nappy. Change Twin 2 nappy. Return to lounge to find Eldest has turned the room into a Toys R Us Krypton Factor challenge. Put twins to bed. 2.30pm. Play toy wheelbarrow and police car chase with Eldest in garden. Wash pots and pans. Empty dishwasher. Try and learn lines for a self-tape. Liaise with venues about forthcoming DJ gigs. Have a snack. 4pm. Twins are awake. Put on Nursery Rhymes CD. Make twins’ dinner. Come back from kitchen to find Eldest asleep on sofa. Fuck. Feed twins dinner and dessert. Wake Eldest up after 30 mins. Not a popular move. Really not a popular move. Make Eldest’s dinner. Settle Eldest with CBeebies and treat. Make bedtime milk for everyone. Extra hot. Feed Eldest dinner. 6pm. Wife is home. Bathtime for babies. Parents both feed milk to twins. Bedtime story for Eldest. 7.30pm. Head out of house for DJ gig in London. Grab any form of relatively-healthy fast food to eat on train. Eat and learn lines for that self-tape on train. 9pm. Start DJ set. Midnight. Finish. Get the last train home! Bed.
How has being a parent affected your career?
It’s made me become more picky about the work I audition for and the work I accept. In more of a monetary way than anything else. I’m finding that I can no longer do rehearsed readings, radio plays and – the biggest of them all – theatre – for the next couple of years at least! Every job I now go for or consider has to be financially-viable. If I feel that I might lose money on the gig or not earn enough to justify time spent away from my family and potential money spent on childcare – then I won’t take the job. In the early days it was tough. And every audition or job offer that I rejected, hurt.
It was all lovely stuff. EVERY actor hates turning down work, right? I’ve found myself honing in on screen work and commercials. Stuff that is great, well paid and in short bursts – perfect!
How has being a Dad influenced your creativity?
At the start when I was new to it all, I definitely felt like being a parent had completely crushed my creativity. I went through a massive phase of self-doubt, a lack of artistic worth and just general shittyness about my confidence.
It got better as our eldest got older but then resurfaced again when the twins were born.
But, literally over the last couple of months as I’ve stayed at home – almost agoraphobic-like since the arrival of twins (it’s really hard to leave the house when you have three kids under three, man!) – a switch flicked in my head. I felt like I needed to cause a mini-paradigm shift of my own. I wanted to shake things up and instead of coasting along, I wanted to see what else was out there. I decided to start writing with a view to formulating my own solo show and…… decided to move agents. I had no reason to leave my last one. They were superb for me. Most actor-parents in my situation would’ve stayed with their current agent. Especially if they were still going great guns. It’s safe and very sensible. After all, what agency would be crazy enough to take on an actor and dad to three STILL-VERY-TINY humans?!
I wrote to a very small select few and in my opening paragraph said that I had three kids and that it was highly unlikely I’d be undertaking much stage or radio work or having time to audition left, right, centre.
To my utter bewilderment, three wanted to meet me and I ended up signing with Curtis Brown a few months ago.
(I’m still pinching myself).
With the writing I’ve decided to grab the bull by its horns and am aiming to have the solo show up-and-running next year. 2020 at the very latest!
Tell us about something/ someone that has really helped you continue working as a parent.
Aside of my previous and current agents who all did / do their bit to help with the juggling, without a shadow of a doubt I’d be unable to do any of this if it wasn’t for my wife. On a weekly basis, she will help with my auditions and line-learning. She also works from home two days a week, so that allows me to go into Central London for meetings. (She’s a civil servant in London. They are super family-friendly). This week, when I had to submit a self-tape, she got back from work, we put the kids to bed, had dinner and then she got cracking on helping me with the tape. If she was unable to help with auditions or her work weren’t as flexible as they are, it’d be an absolute nightmare. Don’t think I’d even have an acting career!
What is your vision for a family friendly music and theatre industry?
The crazy thing is that between the two careers – acting and DJing – it’s the DJing that is working out to be more family-friendly through no merit of its own! It’s a job that I can do when the kids are asleep so it doesn’t affect me being a parent in the slightest. I go out for a few hours of an evening and come back. Job done.
The theatre and film industry have a long way to go yet. If you’re supported to do a long run it can work otherwise it’s virtually impossible to commit to theatre. Unless you’re minted! For screen work, it gets a bit easier because the kids can hang in your trailer and you can have a member of your family / friend or childminder there while you do your thing. I did a tele job in Manchester recently where I intimated that I was considering bringing my three-year-old to the gig. And without any cajoling or hint-dropping on my part they offered a chaperone for him without hesitation. (Which I thought was bloody lovely on their part). I didn’t take my son in the end but that served as a prime example of how we’re going to move forward in this industry.
We’ve all gotta work together on this.