Cast Spotlight: Natalie Gillespie

by stephaniejankowski on April 29, 2015

She has this quiet brilliance about her, and her love for her children is evident in every word she speaks. She also has these adorable dimples that probably got her out of a lot of trouble when she was younger!Natalie G

We’re talking about Natalie Gillespie.

Natalie was the first audition on our first audition day, and the minute we heard her story, we looked at each other and said, “She’s opening Listen To Your Mother Pittsburgh.” Man, we love it when we’re right.

Q: Who IS Natalie Gillespie?

A: I’m a mom to three: my oldest son is 17 (we call him an only-child with siblings, since he’s almost 7 years older than his sister and brother); my daughter is 11 and my youngest son is 8. My husband and I have been married for 25 years, which seems impossible since I often feel like I’m just barely past 25 years old myself. I’m lucky to have most of my family nearby, within yards in the case of my sister, and single-digit miles from my parents and one brother (and another close by in Ohio), and lucky to often see my in-laws in New England frequently. Professionally, I’m so fortunate to make a living doing what I love — communicating and helping others to lead through communications at a large global company.

Q: How did you discover LTYM?

A: Huge shout-out to my colleague Rachelle Raible who posted about auditions on our company social media board—and bought a ticket! And to the friend who responded to my message “Do you want to do this [meaning, buy tickets to the show]?” by asking “audition or attend?” Sometimes, you just need someone to plant a seed in your mind…

Q: What is the craziest thing you remember saying to your children?

A: At least once a week, I like to mention to my children that I graduated college before the internet was INVENTED. It’s truly impossible for them to get their heads around. Sometimes, I use it to remind them to be more industrious to ask questions and find answers (my 8-year-old recently proclaimed that “Everything on the Internet is true. And, conversely, if it’s not on the Internet, it’s not true.”). I also use it to get them to cut me some slack… I’ve been told (by those same children) that I’m using only 13% of my smartphone’s capabilities. But most of all, because we are in a time of unprecedented technological revolution, and I want them to understand and build on that.

Q: What is the craziest thing you remember thinking about children before you had them?

A: As one of four kids in a family that believed in everyone doing their fair share of chores, I once yelled at my mother “I know why you had all these kids! To do all your work for you and make your life easier!”  To her credit, she only laughed hysterically and didn’t say any of the things that no doubt were going through her head. And umm, Mom? I see it a little bit differently now…

Q: What do you wish most for your children?

A: I can’t possibly say it as well as Rascal Flatts:

“That this life becomes all that you want it to,
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small,
You never need to carry more than you can hold,
And while you’re out there getting where you’re getting to,
I hope you know somebody loves you, and wants the same things too.”

I’d also wish that they remember me singing that to them in perfect tune, but I’m a realist. Let’s hope they got the message before covering their ears and begging me to please stop.

Q: What do you love most about Pittsburgh?

A: I tell my kids there are two kinds of Pittsburgh’s: those who live here, and those who left and are trying to get back. I love our sense of community and small-town bigness. There’s so much to do, and it’s all so easily accessible (often with free parking!). I love that we are anchored by tremendous academic institutions that attract incredible talent. I love that there’s so much we take for granted: great medical care, quality cultural events, tons of parks and trails, people who are friendly. And no matter where you go, you can find someone who knows someone or loves something about the Burgh.

Q: If you could only ever eat at one restaurant in the ‘Burgh, what would it be and why?

A: My kids and I are gluten and dairy free, so eating out is not our biggest joy. That said, thank you Eat ’n Park for having delicious gluten-free rolls and Jimmy Wan’s and Qdoba for allowing us to eat out without worry. And if you count bakeries as restaurants, it’s impossible to enter Gluuteny (gluten-free bakery in Squirrel Hill) without wanting to eat one of everything.

Q: Do you Listen To Your Mother?! What’s the biggest thing you have learned from her?

A: Three things really stick in my mind:

  1. First, my mother gave up her nursing career to raise four kids, and the whole time I was growing up, I never even realized what a sacrifice that must have been at times. She never made us feel bad about it, even when we probably didn’t show much appreciation. At the same time, she was always so encouraging of whatever I wanted to do. In college, I had the mom who would call and say she worried that I was studying too hard.  (Maybe this was reverse psychology! If so, it worked!) She never once suggested that I should not balance work and family — and has been so helpful with my kids.
  2. Secondly, I credit my mom with my sense of standing up for myself and speaking up. Once, a very chauvinistic boss saw a flyer for an assertiveness training course on my desk. “Are you thinking of going to that?” he asked (I like to imagine with panic in his eyes). “Oh, I don’t know… why?” I said. He responded “Because I think you need the opposite of that course!”  This bothered me, so that night I told my mom about it. “What do you think?” I asked.  Her response taught me to lean in way before that was popular: “I think I did my job well,” she said. “Keep it up!”
  3. Third, my mom breastfed her kids at a time when it was really unpopular to do so, and she did it with commitment. Her encouragement turned out to be the biggest factor in my own breastfeeding success—no matter what trouble I faced, she cheered me on — and that really helped me to transition between work and home, still feeling connected to my kids.

Q: What are you reading?

A: If my kids were ever to accuse me of having an ulterior motive for having them, it would be the joy of children’s literature. There is nothing I love more than curling up with them and a book, discussing books, planning what to read next. You know what that guarantees, right? I’ve encountered the unfathomable “don’t like to read” blight with two of my kids… the older one seems to have grown out of it, and I’m luring my daughter with fantastic books that we still read together. Top of our list: Wonder, by RJ Palaccio, whom we had the chance to hear speak. Next up: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.


Books, baked goods, and female empowerment? Yes, please! You won’t want to miss Natalie’s performance on May 8!

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