And how The High Note actress is coping with quarantine
June Diane Raphael commands attention onscreen. She steals scenes in the upcoming film The High Note, and you can’t miss her as a ruthless businesswoman on Grace and Frankie or as the chief of staff of Charlize Theron’s presidential candidate in Long Shot.
But the actress and comedian deserves just as much attention for her offscreen work. She’s the co-founder of the Jane Club, a L.A. coworking space for women dedicated to inclusivity, that’s moved online with its fun offerings due to Covid-19. She also co-wrote Represent, a handbook for women hoping to run for office.
In a new interview, June tells Wake-Up Call (subscribe here!) producer Emily Pinto about creating a safe space for women and all about quarantining with her husband, the actor Paul Scheer.
Wake Up Call: So let’s get right to it. What made you decide to start The Jane Club?
June Diane Raphael: When I was just postpartum with my second child, I experienced a personal crisis in heading back to work.
I felt so disappointed with conversations about women “having it all,” and “work-life balance.”
The emphasis was always on the individual woman having to figure things out for herself — to read this book or to listen to this panel about how one woman has cracked the code on balancing work and motherhood.
I was really struggling with apologizing for having small children at my professional job, or apologizing for having my job when I was with my children. I felt like there was no real way to do both and still be a whole person. That is where The Jane Club came from. I wanted to take the burden off individual women of trying to figure out how to magically make everything happen.
At The Jane Club’s physical location in LA, we have a childcare center on the first floor called The Nest. It’s temporarily closed, but women could bring their children and go upstairs to take a conference call or a workout class. I really wanted to create a space where the work of mothering and caretaking was respected and acknowledged, and where women could do it together, in community. I think the moment we’re in right now has revealed so much about how this country has not invested in caretakers.
Where did the name come from?
It came from Jane Addams, who started The Hull House In Chicago. She specifically created a community for women, mostly immigrant women, to come and learn skills, but they also all took care of each other’s children. Everybody who belongs to our group is a Jane!
With a concept that’s so heavily social, how have you adapted during this crisis?
We always say we get a lot of Janes who sign up for childcare, but stay for the community. That’s really what we’ve seen happen as we’ve brought all of our programming and gatherings into the digital space. We’re still communal by nature. Having the ability to connect to other women during this time is vital, even just to ask how we’re all doing.
We have taken our mission — which is about the whole woman — taking care of her professionally, physically, mentally, and taking care of her children — and we’ve brought that to our online village.
We have all of these fun activities for the kids too, like online music classes. But also, we’ve been saying we understand how women are doing right now. It’s a scary, anxiety-riddled time, and there’s a ton of emotional labor falling on women. And guess what? A lot of us still have professional jobs. We deeply understand that and have created programming with that in mind. Women can try breathing, meditation sessions, or take our morning workout classes.
We’ve also seen the community come together right now. Many Janes were impacted financially when this all went down. We reduced everybody’s monthly membership when we turned digital, but launched what we call our Angel Jane program, where we invited Janes to stay on at the regular rate if they could to support the other Janes in our community who would have needed to end their membership. I was so moved by the response, and I’m proud to say we didn’t lose any Janes because of the financial impact. So to see the community support each other to sustain itself was really remarkable.
It sounds like you’re incredibly involved in making sure the business adapts to the times and continues to run smoothly. I’ve got to ask, are you ever a Brianna, your ‘Grace and Frankie’ character, at the office?
(laughs) I hope not! I love Brianna with all my heart… maybe our biggest similarity is that we are both very confident. But I care much more about what people think of me than she does. So I hope that nobody that I work with would describe me as a Brianna!
Speaking of Brianna, has the Grace and Frankie production schedule been impacted because of Covid-19?
Yes. We shut down production in the second week of March, right before L.A’s stay-at-home order came in. I know the writers are still writing, and we’ve done a table read, but I don’t know when we will finish our seventh and final season. We’re still waiting to hear. But I can’t wait to go back.
Have you been binge-watching anything during this time?
I’m not proud to say, but I’ve really gotten into the dregs of reality TV. I started 90 Day Fiancé, and I am loving it. It’s an absolute horror show. After a full day with the kids, and no school or childcare, my husband and I always joke that our reward is to clean up the kitchen for two hours. So I feel completely exhausted at the end of the day, and have to sort of just let my mind go blank.
Have you been homeschooling your kids? And if so, who is a better teacher — you or Paul?
We are homeschooling! They’re doing great. We are really lucky that our kids are young enough that all they’re really experiencing is that they get to spend a lot more time with us.
Paul is really enthusiastic and encouraging, and I’m probably a little bit stricter. I’m a little bit more of a “tough love” type of teacher. I think we’re both doing great, to be quite honest.
How did you convince Paul to give you a manicure?
I’ve also done some grooming with him. I cut his hair! There was some reciprocity to it.
I can do my left hand with my right hand just fine, but I am not ambidextrous at all. My left side is completely useless. It was the craziest experience, because Paul is thoughtful and particular, and when he looked at the job he had done on my nails, he truly said, “Oh that’s great. I did a great job.”
And I was like, “What are you talking about? I can’t even find the outline of my nail, how are you not seeing how terrible this is?” It was very strange. But God bless him, he tried.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
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This interview originally appeared on Medium.