Samantha Baines is a multi award-winning author, actress and broadcaster. She hosts the smash hit podcast The Divorce Social and as a hearing aid wearer herself, she is the author of critically acclaimed children’s books with deaf main characters.
You may recognise her from appearances on ITV’s Loose Women, Sky News and Andrew Neil’s This Week or acting roles in Netflix’s The Crown, Call the Midwife, Silent Witness and Magic Mike Live (directed by Channing Tatum). She is a regular on BBC radio stations.
Describe a typical day for you?
I wake up LATE which is one of the joys of being self-employed. I don’t like to set an alarm (unless I absolutely have to) and so I wake up when my body tells me to (when I need a wee). Then I have a pot of Earl Grey tea on the sofa and stroke my dog Custard whilst I check in on emails and social media. If I have Zoom calls etc I will put my hearing aid in first thing but if I have the day to myself I might enjoy the muffled sounds of life instead.
If it’s a busy day, I kick off right away with some emails/work still sat on the sofa because COMFORT. Around lunchtime, I make sure I have a break and have a sandwich and watch something like The Great Pottery Throwdown on Catch Up because I LOVE anything crafting. I take the dog for a nice long walk (1hr) after lunch and try and breathe in some sunshine and inspiration in the process. I try to keep the walk a work-free zone, even though emails might ping through.
In the afternoon, I head up to my office (spare room) and do some writing or a podcast recording.
I have two desks: one set up for podcasts or remote TV interviews with a mic (that I have added pink diamante to because why not?!) and a camera set up, and one desk with a large screen for writing my books. I will sit at the appropriate desk with a can of Cherry Coke Zero (because I weirdly love that cherry flavour) and a bottle of water and work for as long as my brain lets me.
There will be many social media breaks (too many – I do silly reaction videos on Instagram). I might have an acting audition to tape and I will also do this from my office, moving all the crap I have thrown on the office sofa (to be put away) aside, and filming myself with a ring light and the help of my boyfriend/sister. In the evening, I quite often head off to an event and enjoy dressing up in bright colours and dresses that make me feel good.
I love meeting new people and hearing their stories so I always look forward to events where I can talk to people and connect. If I have a night off I will eat dinner in front of the TV (usually something my partner has cooked as I am a terrible cook) and we will chat about our respective days, play games with the dog or catch up on boxsets. We both drink a lot of tea but I stick to decaf after 8pm! I usually go to bed around 11pm, put my hearing aid on charge and read a book from one of my tall piles of books or end up scrolling for vintage clothes, online. Then I try to get the dog off the bed so I have some space to sleep. By the way, I do wash and that happens when I remember in the day or before a Zoom meeting when I know other people will see me.
What do you feel are your greatest achievements?
Healing after my divorce is a big one. It was tough and took a lot of work and self-reflection but my heart feels whole again now which is something I couldn’t imagine a few years ago.
Getting through the really hard times like my Dad dying and just putting one foot in front of the other everyday felt like a real achievement!
I tend to have a positive attitude as much as possible but sometimes it can be hard to stay positive when everything feels like it’s stacked against you. I set up my podcast The Divorce Social and I have had so many letters/emails/messages from people saying how much it has helped them which feels like an achievement. Also becoming an ambassador for the Royal National Institute for Deaf People, after I discovered my own hearing loss and writing children’s books with deaf protagonists (Harriet Versus the Galaxy and The Night The Moon Went Out) feels important and is something I am proud of.
Helping young deaf people feel seen and have characters to relate to is pretty great and I love going into schools to talk to pupils about hearing aids and book writing. My newest book Living With Hearing Loss and Deafness: A Guide To Owning It and Loving It feels like a big achievement as it has so many words! Haha! It is also the first book I ever wanted to write for the twelve million people in the UK that have some form of hearing loss or deafness and it was a fight to get it published. I am very excited that it is going to be out in the real world soon (released April 27th 2023 and available to pre-order now).
What’s in your handbag/ satchel?
Handbag for me, I find the buckles on satchels too stressful! I need access to my handbag QUICKLY. I do have some strange things in there! People are always shocked by how many lipsticks I have with me, usually around 9 in my daily handbag! I love a colourful lip and I end up adding new lipsticks each day and never taking any out. I have dog poo bags in my handbag because being caught without is so embarrassing and I forget to take them out when I am not with my dog. My purse (a Vivienne Westwood one that is looking sad and slightly peeling but I love it) is in there. My keys which have more keyrings than actual keys. A small shell that I’ve picked up on a beach trip and put in my handbag for safe keeping. Why? (I have a bowl of shells in my bathroom that is slowly overflowing). A permanent marker for signing books. Some earrings that I have taken off on the train home from an event. Hearing aid batteries, even though I have upgraded my hearing aid since and it doesn’t need batteries anymore. Usually there’s a depressing looking nut bar at the bottom of my bag that has been squashed into a strange shape by all the other things in there, but I keep it just in case I am at an event with no food!
What are your ambitions in life?
‘Be happy’ and ‘bring joy’ are my two big ambitions. I used to have very specific goals like ‘write a book’ and ‘be on Loose Women’, which definitely worked as I have done both which was fun but these type of goals always make me feel like, ‘Okay, what’s next?’ as soon as I achieve them. Being happy and bringing other people joy are fun goals and never ending ones so I always have motivation to keep going. I mean can you ever complete being happy and bringing joy?!
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career you now know?
‘The accolades that sound impressive aren’t always the ones that mean the most’. I was so keen to act in shows everyone had heard of and I am lucky that I have been cast in The Crown, Call the Midwife and Magic Mike Live among others but it’s the roles that have challenged me or introduced me to new communities (like the book writing community) that have been the most rewarding.
That’s not to say working with people like Channing Tatum (name drop) and Miriam Margolyes (name drop) hasn’t also been fun!
‘Life isn’t a straight line’ is another one I wish I had known. I had a plan and that involved getting married and sticking to one career path and none of that has worked out! I’m so glad my life hasn’t gone in a straight line or followed my plan as it wouldn’t be half as fun as it is now. Divorce and wobbly career paths for the win.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?
Being happy and bringing joy hopefully. Maybe living somewhere by the sea?
What advice would you give a budding creative/ podcaster/broadcaster?
Go for it! Do the thing you’ve been thinking about and planning in your head. Make it real. Other people will try and tell you it won’t work or you should do it differently but you will never know unless you give it a go. You will feel so proud of yourself when you do. Trying is everything.
What advice would you give to a new parent?
Your happiness is important. I don’t have children myself, but I speak to a lot of parents on my podcast The Divorce Social and I hear the guilt and the worry in their stories. Your children want you to be happy and by prioritising your own happiness you are teaching them such a valuable life lesson. We all deserve happiness.
Finally, happiness is…
Getting a dog and calling it Custard. FYI, I did both of these things.
Buy my bestselling book in paperback or audio
My debut book is my guide to surviving and thriving at work and at home and offers insight into how to create a digital business or return to work with confidence.
Mumboss: The Honest Mum's Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home
(UK 2nd Edition)
Available on Amazon or Audible
The Working Mom: Your Guide to Surviving and Thriving at Work and at Home
Available September 8th 2020. Order now on Amazon