Thursday, January 31, 2013

Nanosecond of Fame

Some of you have been wondering how in the world Jensen and Emme ended up in a Disney commercial.

Well...let me tell you a little story.

You may have seen the “I am a Princess” commercial playing on Nickelodeon and the Disney channel right now.

Our girls appear for the MOST NANO of seconds in that commercial – so if you will definitely miss them!

It all started one day last spring.  We were getting behind a few months on Emme’s school fees (her school has a special program for Down syndrome and is over $300 a month).

We didn’t want to ask our supporters for more money – everyone had been so generous already.

As Karl was driving to Emme's school one morning he prayed, “Lord, please give us some creative ways to bring in more income to cover costs for Emme’s needs.”

That same morning, unknown to Karl, I received an email from the Down Syndrome Association about Disney looking for children with Down syndrome for their “anyone can be a princess” commercial. Disney is changing their princess image – from Barbie doll princesses who are slightly helpless – to princesses in all shapes and sizes – with character and courage

I thought..."Yeah! Right!"  But on a whim...I sent off a response and attached Emme's photo.

Our Princess

Apparently there is a lot of filming done in Cape Town (because of the great tax structure, mild weather all year round, ethnically diverse talent).  Who knew?

After a few casting calls and wardrobe checks...both our girls were selected and we showed up for the shoot.  Disney had chosen 65 kids to be shot at locations all over Cape Town in a two day period.  Our location was someone’s actual house.  We met a very nice Asian family whose two daughters had also been chosen.  They were in the room next to us (you can see them in several shots in the commercial). These were model children...delightful candidates...with perfect behaviour.  We however, were another story.

So we showed up that day bright and cheerful, but... 

After waiting around for 3 hours for our turn..the girls were getting pretty cranky

      - Emme refused to let Jensen put the handmade princess crown on her head – she just screamed and ripped it off (she does NOT like hats).  There is no bargaining with Emme. Promising treats for good behaviour or threatening punishment in a crisis situation gets you absolutely nowhere with her.

      - Jensen was too caught up in the amazing “girl room” decorations of their staged bedroom to pay any attention whatsoever to the director

      -  I was desperately trying to make the girls cooperate and didn't realize I was becoming “THAT parent.”  The director finally had to say, “Uh, Mom...we need you to move out of the way! Your arm keeps getting in the shot!” So Embarrassing!!

      - Every time the girls were doing something cute and princess-like (in my Professional Mom Opinion) – the cord would come unplugged on the camera (batteries would have been nice) and they would miss the shot that I am sure would have launched our children’s career in stardom

Completely frazzled, we were about to leave when they asked Karl if we would do a behind-the-scenes interview (for Disney’s internal purposes).

The interview began, and I really do not know what came over me.

They started by asking me...”So what have the Disney princesses meant to you?”

I could not tell you who that person was that started to talk...but suddenly I was overcome with how the princesses had changed my life! I went on and on and on....about how they made me believe in myself, how they were so unselfish and inspiring!  I even started to cry. What??!!?

It was crazy-town!

Poor Karl couldn't get in a word edge-wise because I could not stop talking about how amazing the princesses are.  This is a loss for Disney, as Karl is the true Disney fan in this family.  He grew up going to Disney World with his family and has many happy memories there.

Eventually the interviewer decided he needed to hear something else, so he turns to Jensen and says, “What do YOU think about the princesses?”

Jensen, normally quite the talker, looks at him very confused...saying absolutely nothing.  She clearly has not had any life-altering experiences with the Disney Princesses, unlike her mother.

In an attempt to jump start her, I say “Jensen...don’t you think the princesses are kind?”

She looks at me and says a bit bewildered, “Mom! Jesus is kind!”

She’s got that right.

We recover and apparently I was still talking about princesses when Jensen says, “Mom!”

I say, “Jensen...I’m talking.  Please wait.”

I keep on trucking on the Way Princesses Have Changed My Life Forever. Clearly I have a lot to say on this subject.

She says again a little more urgently, “Mom!”

Me (trying not to sound high pitched and annoyed in the middle of my Dateline worthy interview) say, “Just a minute, Jensen!”

Jensen nearly frantic now...“Mom!”

Me, “Yes! WHAT is it?”

Jensen... “Look at Emme, mom!”

And there across from us, Emme has the Vice President of Disney World Media on her knees in a near fetal position – with Emme’s death-grip on this woman’s beautiful long blonde hair.

I rush over...prying her fingers off and saying, “No! No! Emme. No! No pulling hair!” 

She may seem harmless...but she lures you in with her big smile - while she's planning all the while to pull a big chunk of your hair out by the roots

Needless to say the interview ended quickly and we left as soon as possible, convinced the girls’ scene would be cut from the commercial.  We were shocked to find out months later the girls had their nanosecond of fame after-all.

Although Disney hasn’t been beating own our door, it did cover Emme’s school feels for the rest of last year - an amazing gift from the True King for our Princess Emme!

That day I went a little princess crazy - and turned all of Jensen's old birthday hats into "princess caps" (although I thought  I was very clever...Jensen just really wanted the birthday hats back)

Note: Julie Ostrand  founded "Motherhood is Beautiful," a holistic program in South Africa created to empower at-risk mothers through mentoring, skills development, and job creation.

"Empower a" is the brand name of the beautiful home decor products made in our job creation program.

These products are created by hand and every time you purchase an "Empower a" product, you help a mother in Africa provide food for her family.

If you love empowering at-risk moms or helping a small business get started...join us now and contribute seed money to help us launch our new home decor product line and create jobs for moms in Africa!

Our goal is to raise $5,000 by October 31, 2014! Help launch our business in Africa to empower moms and contribute now...