Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, the duo behind the hilarious and popular web series #imomsohard, have come a long way since their early days, when Hensley posted her phone number on the comedy pair's Facebook page.
"Jen and I didn't understand how Facebook or social media or any of that stuff worked," admits Hensley, a comedian and mom of two. "It said, 'Do you want a project phone number,' and I was like, 'Sure!'?"
Dozens of phone calls later, Hensley opted to take down her number, but it was that kind of intimacy that helped build a loyal fan base of sleep-deprived moms from all over the country. Whether Hensley and Smedley were squeezing into Spanx ("beige and delicious!") on camera, getting real about body hair ("I have to Epilady my nose!") or just drinking wine ("bring your own bottle"), the L.A.-based pair found a way to relate to more than a million women who might be covered in spit-up but still wanted to laugh about it.
They launched #imomsohard in 2016 with the intention of giving Facebook-addicted moms something to laugh at without feeling judged.
"It's actually kind of a lonely time, and you're on social media so much," Smedley, also a comedian and mom of two, says about modern motherhood. "You're seeing everyone with their perfect life and feeling like, 'How is everybody else nailing it, and I'm really doing a shitty job?'?So Kristin and I both felt like there needs to be something out there that doesn't tell you how to do what you're already doing better."
Fast-forward to two years later, and the comedy duo have more than 1.5 million social media followers, a successful Moms Night Out tour (currently in its second run) and a pilot at CBS produced by Michelle Nader (2 Broke Girls), Rob Thomas (Veronica Mars) and Warner Bros. TV.
"There are no words when you find out you get to shoot a pilot for CBS," Hensley says. "We didn't even know that we had an office, and I couldn't get in there fast enough. It felt so real, and so incredible and so magical."
Both women grew up in Nebraska but met in L.A. more than 15 years ago. While they might be new to the television scene, they're no newbies when it comes to the comedy circuit. Smedley eventually joined the Groundlings and Hensley spent time at Second City. Both praise the Westside Comedy Theater in Santa Monica, where Hensley met director and now-husband Colin Sweeney.
The pair also acknowledge what a unique time it is to be female creators in Hollywood.
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"I specifically feel like the voice of mothers is another #othervoices because if you went back to the Stone Age, the life of a mother has been very similar, but it's been an uninteresting, unsexy story. To us, it matters," Smedley says. "Calling somebody a mom is like the ultimate insult, but they're badasses on multiple levels because they have to do everything else that other humans have to do, and they have to keep young people alive and well-dressed."
The duo also have tackled the tricky terrain of body image. "It would be way easier for me if I had a perfect, hot, ripped bod, but that's just not my reality," Hensley says. "Honestly, I'm OK with being a 7. A 7 for me is a great day, and it means that I get to enjoy my life."
And that, she says, is how we can also start toning down the judgment, whether it's toward ourselves, moms or women in general.
"We have to give women permission to be like, 'Hey man, we all got a little cellulite, but you've still got to get on that beach and you've got to have those memories with your kids.'"