She’s showing the world that “this is real life.”
The video was meant for the eyes of Wisconsin voters, but a campaign ad for gubernatorial candidate Kelda Roys is amazing moms all over the country.
In it, she does something many moms do every day, but few politicians do on camera: She breastfeeds.
According to Roys, the moment was unplanned. "Anybody who has a baby knows that you can't really script what they're gonna do," Roys tells Motherly. "My family was there and we thought we'd get some pictures of them, too, but it's a long process," she says.
With lighting and microphones and cameras to set up, professional video shoots do take time, and 4.5 month old Avalon (who was on set along with her sister, 4 year old Arcadia and Roys' husband, Dan Reed) got hungry.
In the video Roys is seen alone on screen, talking about Wisconsin's BPA Free Kids Act, something she worked on during her time as a State Representative, when she realizes she's gonna need to multitask. Reed steps into frame to hand her the baby.
"I was right in the middle of an interview, telling the story, and the baby started fussing," she recalls. "I had that instinct, you know, you hear your baby cry and right away you've gotta get to that baby and feed her—so I just grabbed her and started nursing her."
Roys tells Motherly she just kept telling her legislative success story about how she helped make Wisconsin one of the first states in the nation to prohibit BIsphenol A (BPA) from baby bottles and sippy cups, thinking the videographers could use a different take or maybe just use the audio.
"When they sent back the first edit of the video, and it had [the nursing] in there, I looked at it and I said, 'You know, this is real life and it's a part of who I am'," she says.
Roys says that when she began her political career a decade ago, the fact that she was a woman (and a young one, too) worked against her. She had to constantly prove that she was capable and professional, and remind people that she was a lawyer and an advocate who'd been running state organizations.
She wasn't yet a mom, but at the time it seemed like even if she were, she'd have to keep that part of herself separate from her political persona.
"You definitely didn't want to talk about anything outside of [your] resume, and now I feel like people are ready to see women as whole people, and women who are running for office are running as themselves. I think that is such a wonderful and positive development because it means that women being in leadership and running for office is normal," she says.
Yes. Women in leadership are normal, and so is breastfeeding, as Roys can attest to. She's been getting messages from breastfeeding moms all over America.
"It happened because I was there with my baby and she was hungry, but I am really so heartened by the wonderful and warm response I have received from people all over the country," Roys explains, adding that she's received messages from mothers who were pumping at work when they saw her video and others who thanked her for making them feel more comfortable about breastfeeding when and where they need to.
"I think that other people can relate to that and if they see me as a real person and someone who is very motivated to make this a better world for my kids then I think they'll see that I'm ready to be governor and make the world better for their kids, too."
Roys says if she is successful in her bid she plans to make healthcare and childcare more affordable and institute paid parental leave. "Every parent should get at least 12 weeks off to care for their new baby, or to care for an adopted child," she says.
"I think this is really important not just for women, but for men, too. We know that when men take parental leave and get that early time, it really sets the stage for them to be much more involved in their children's life going forward and that takes some of the burden off of women."
She may not be the governor yet, but Roys is already helping take some of the burden off of her fellow moms with her now viral campaign video. She's proving that breastfeeding doesn't hold us back from being leaders—in some cases, it even pushes us forward.