Nurture vs Drama

By Sara Donald

When I ring Justine Olrog (BEd (Primary) ’94) to arrange an interview time she is in her car, on the way to drop her youngest daughter at a friend’s house. “But I’ve had to turn around and go back home,” she groans. “I’ve already made dinner for tonight but I just realised I didn’t put it in the fridge.”
Definitely not the first working mum to leave a cooked dinner out on the kitchen bench, Olrog is co-director with Amy Skene of Blossom Management – a drama school and talent agency – located in Sydney.
“This is our eighth year in business,” explains Olrog. “We started off with five children at Harbord Public School doing after-school drama lessons and now we have a couple of hundred kids on our books. A highlight of last year was when one of our students won a role in My Place, the ABC 3 series.”
Olrog says that setting up her own business was a “massive learning curve.” She adds: “when we first started the drama school I used to worry about a lot of things because we had no experience in running a business. But my partner and I have a long term business plan and we set three-monthly goals – that helps to keep us focused on growing an effective and profitable business.”
Married to Craig Sandercock, the assistant coach of the Newcastle Knights Rugby League team, Olrog has three daughters: Milly (15), Annabel (6) and Jemima (4). Running her own business while raising her children has not been without its juggling acts.
“On the days that I work I have a babysitter for my youngest daughter but the key for me to managing work/life balance is a good slow cooker – and I always double the recipe,” she laughs. “Personally, for me, if I have my food and dinners organised, and the washing hung out in the morning then I feel in control.” Olrog also admits to vacuuming her living area every day – “I can’t leave the house without doing so – it creates a feeling of calm.”
Asking Olrog to reflect on her time at Sydney, she is positive about her experiences: “I have very fond memories of university. There were so many amazing opportunities. I loved drama and the performing arts – these subjects definitely inspired a lifetime love of nurturing children’s imaginations.”
Now in her late 30s, Olrog is upbeat about where she is in life. “When I was a little girl I used to think to myself: ‘when I’m older I want to own a drama school and have a casting agency as part of it’…and there are days when I’m coming to work and think this is exactly where I want to be.”