Opa! It’s Time for My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2!

MBFGW2-Poster.jpgThere are some movies that I can literally watch over and over again and honestly, it never gets old. “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” is one of those films. From the first moment I saw it, to the time my son figured out how to do a dead pan impression of the “bi-bopsy” scene from the original film, there is something truly special about this movie that has struck a chord with my family. So much so that last year, at my son’s Movie Themed Bar Mitzvah, we even had a table for our Greek cousins with the “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” Poster as a centerpiece!
So imagine my thrill and anticipation when I was invited to attend a screening of the film’s sequel, “My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2” and the chance to meet the cast at a press junket in New York City!
While I can’t give away any spoilers from the film which opens nationwide on March 25 — and trust me, there are a lot of them — I am here to tell you that the sequel is fantastic. It will have you laughing out loud, shedding tears and smiling from ear to ear as you get to see the incredibly hilarious Portokalos family back together again.
“My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2,” is the long-awaited follow-up to the highest-grossing romantic comedy of all time. Written by Academy Award nominee Nia Vardalos, who stars alongside the entire returning cast of favorites, the film reveals a Portokalos family secret that will bring the beloved characters back together for an even bigger and Greeker wedding. Take a look at the trailer…

How Elena Kampouris Landed the Role of a Lifetime…
MBFGW2-Elena1.jpgAt the press junket, we met teen actress Elena Kampouris, who plays Nia Vardolos’ and John Corbett’s daughter in the film. We learned that Elena is in fact half Greek and half French American and she shared the amazing story behind how she landed the part:
Elena: It’s really a funny story. It’s a very interesting process, because when I got the audition it went to my mom’s email and I saw it and it was a jaw dropping moment. I was like, “What, they’re making a sequel after all these years, too?” It was the last thing I was expecting. So I was freaking out, but I’m like–there’s a part of me, my stomach kind of dropped because I’m like, whenever I tell people I’m Greek, nobody ever believes me.
So I thought, I don’t really have high chances for this, and also, if I don’t get the role, which is likely, if I ever see the movie, it’s going to taint the way that I see the film, a film that’s so beloved to me because it’s like, that could have been me.
So there was a lot of pressure, and I didn’t want to tell my father about it because he’s the Greek father who is very proud and he raised me playing that movie over and over telling me, “This is the finest film in all of filmmaking history. This is the movie. You should be in this movie. You’d be perfect for this movie.” He actually said that I would be perfect to be in this movie when I was little, so it’s like jeez, the pressure’s on, right?
So when that came in, I’m like, “I can’t tell him. Mom, don’t tell him.” Of course, he’s a Greek. He finds out and he’s like, “Elena, call them. Tell them you will do the movie.” I said, “Okay, so it doesn’t work like that. There’s a process.” He says, “You’re Greek. You can do the movie. You’re Greek. Tell them you’re Greek and they’ll let you do the movie.”
I’m like, “There’s a process here. If I’m lucky. Five, six callbacks. Maybe then I will have the privilege of auditioning for Nia in person. But he didn’t understand it. He’s just like, “You’re Greek. You should be able to do it.” And I’m like, “Yes, well I’m not even a convincing Greek.” So for some reason, I did tape for it.
I ended up being called back and I did a chemistry read with Alex Wolff who plays Bennett in the movie, who I love…after that chemistry read, we were flown into Toronto for the day. We flew in in the morning and we went in to meet Nia, Kirk [Jones, Director], Gary [Goetzman, Producer] and all the producers. And it was like, we had the plane ride together so we got to know each other, which really helped.
But once we were in the room, we did our thing, we were asked to leave and wait in the waiting room. They called us back in. Nia sat down. She was in the middle, I was here, he was here. She’s like, “Okay, guys. We’re going to do some improv together.” And I’m like, “Wow, I hope this is a good sign.” And so we’re about to get started and she’s like, “You know what? I’m just kidding. You guys got the roles.”
I started bawling my eyes out, and of course I’m Greek. We’re very expressive, animated people. I couldn’t help myself. I’m bawling and it’s really embarrassing. There’s snot and it’s not pretty and I’m trying to keep myself together here and they’re just standing there. I’m in awe of Nia because she’s such a presence.
And so by some miracle, it worked out. And we had the best plane ride back home ever. Alex and I were celebrating, because if you could imagine if it didn’t go well, that would have been one long plane ride back home. That would have been like an eternity. So it was very magical, that experience. And before we actually flew back home from Toronto, they actually sent us straight from the casting office to our fittings.
So to get the news and then to go straight to the fitting and get our costumes for our characters was like, surreal. Surreal.
Andrea Martin and Joey Fatone…
MBFGW2-JoeyFatoneAndreaMartin.JPGThe moment Andrea Martin walked into the room, she had everyone in stitches. As she looked out the window of the Mandarin Oriental and saw the incredible skyline, she instantly burst into song. Eventually, she and co-star Joey Fatone took their seats and shared how much they loved reprising their roles and reuniting with their fellow cast members.
Joey Fatone: “I think keeping the magic, in a sense, was of course a huge part of Nia. Because obviously being the writer and learning from experiences, of course, her having a child now. Back then when she didn’t have a child and she couldn’t really write from it, because I think she didn’t have experience from it. So here doing that I think now, and letting it settle in after 14, 15 years later, it has definitely been a treat to see the things that happened.”
Andrea Martin: For all of us, I think, the movie’s been kept very alive in the last 14 years, because it was so successful. People have a great love for the film. So over the years, people have come up to me and say, “Do a little bit.” “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” In fact, all the time. I’m doing a play right now at the Roundabout and people–
I’m going to go from Greek to a Cockney accent. Anyway, and so I’ll finish the two-and-a-half hours of this play and then they’ll say, “What do you mean you don’t eat no meat?” It’s like, all right. Have I done anything else? So it’s felt like it’s been very alive and so in that way, actually, the first day didn’t seem like 14 years had passed. It really felt like yesterday. And we knew each other. It wasn’t like a new cast, so it was just great familiarity and great affection for one another.
Nia Vardolos shares how the story for the sequel was born…
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Nia Vardolos: I had written at the end of the first movie that Toula and Ian were parents. And in reality, the struggle to become a parent was real for me. It was very long and then I did become a mom. Happy ending. And on my daughter’s first day of Kindergarten, I was crying so hard and so loud that other moms were backing away from me. And somebody said, “Hey, come on. In 13 years, they’re going to go off to college. What’s the big deal?” And I went, “What?” And that’s the moment that I realized I might have had the idea for the sequel and I went away and started writing that day.
John Corbett shares how the cast was able to recreate movie magic…thanks to Nia…
John Corbett: How do you recreate some sort of magic that happened on a few million-dollar movie that may or may not see the light of day 15 years ago? When we made the first one, the World Trade Towers were still standing. That’s how long ago it was. Now to come back and try to recreate that is not something that was in my hands at all. It was mostly in hers by putting pencil to paper, and then this guy making those moments happen. So I’m the wrong guy to be answering that. But I think, having seen the second movie, that it happened. Somehow, that magic happened twice, because this movie does it for me.
Vardolos reflects on the feedback she received over the years from fans of the first film…
Nia Vardolos: I think that people go through real tragedies and we have had the benefit of getting letters all these years from people who have told us about their lives. So what I went through in my quest to be a mom does not compare, in any way. But in the quiet time that I took to reflect on it, it made me a better person.
I’m so grateful that I didn’t have a biological child, because my daughter, meeting my daughter, she was almost three living in American foster care, all that happened led me to my real daughter. So in the same way, I am so grateful that the idea for the sequel and the desire to do the sequel did not come to me. Because what I went through informed my writing and let me go deeper with this next one.
And we weren’t afraid of that. We weren’t afraid to show what a real marriage can be like and we weren’t afraid to show that this family has aged, and that’s okay. They all look like they’ve been dipped in pickle juice. But families go through things, and Kirk wasn’t afraid to show that and create a very safe environment on set.
“Try is this way,” you would say. “Try it this way, try it this way.” And the cast, because they’re so comfortable in their characters, they would try it different ways.

Director Kirk Jones shares why My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2 will appeal to audiences…

Kirk Jones: I think everyone at this table is a huge fan of making movies which make people feel good, make them laugh, make them cry again. And the dark stuff is out there, and we all enjoy watching that now and again, but there’s absolutely no reason why we shouldn’t invest our time in making movies which makes people feel good and touch on human subjects, which is what Nia does when she comments on families. And that’s what everyone wants to see, as well as all the other stuff.
If you are as big a fan of “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” as my family, then don’t miss the sequel when it premieres in theaters nationwide on March 25! Follow all the excitement on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/MyBigFatGreekWeddingMovie, @MyBigFatGreekWeddingMovie, Instagram (@MBFGreekWedding), and Twitter (@MBFGreekWedding).

I Officially Have a Mom Crush on Michelle Obama

11102877_10152772609320205_6410402974126457914_n.jpgMore than a decade ago, I dreamt up the concept behind Role Mommy. With two little kids in tow, I was determined to find a way to achieve success in my career without it taking a toll on my family. Thanks to an incredibly understanding boss who was quite the visionary back during those days, I managed to carve out a schedule for myself which paved the way for other women in our department to work from home. Despite my unconventional work schedule, I still managed to climb the ladder and eventually became a vice president in my department working with incredible individuals who were leaders in their field — from television producers, to programming executives, writers and actresses – all of whom were doing what they loved while raising a family.
At the time, I was fascinated by women who didn’t compromise their own dreams while pursuing motherhood and that’s the moment that Role Mommy was born. In my wildest dreams, I never imagined that my passion for storytelling would eventually lead me to the opportunity of a lifetime. What I have come to discover during this incredible journey as a parenting blogger is that anything truly is possible. After being invited by Cafe Mom to visit the White House where I would get the chance to meet the First Lady and learn more about the “Let’s Move” campaign to combat childhood obesity, it became quite apparent that today’s working mothers have found an ideal way to integrate their families into their lives in a way that ensures they will never short change their kids while pursuing their own careers. Incidentally, nearly every person who spoke at the event was a working mother who has made it their mission to help others while being an incredible role model for their own families.
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When First Lady Michelle Obama took the stage at the Let’s Move event it was at that moment, that I developed my “mom crush.” Not only is she beautiful, poised and so incredibly smart, Michelle Obama is authentic, relatable and down to earth. As she recounted a story about how she used to feed her kids junk food when she was a busy working mom with two little kids, it instantly transported me back to those days when I was juggling a busy corporate career with motherhood. As hard as I tried to be a good mom, I remember short changing my kids with poor food choices — caving in to easy menu choices like chicken fingers and fruit roll ups, until those bad decisions caught up with me. In Mrs. Obama’s situation, she shared how her family’s fast food habits led her to have a serious conversation with her kids’ pediatrician who urged her to start introducing healthier foods into her daughters’ diet. In my case, a visit to the dentist revealed that my daughter’s fruit roll up fixation inevitably was the cause of several unwanted cavities. In both cases, we were both pretty lucky that these red flags took place when our kids were little so we could make a course correction and start introducing healthy foods into their diets when they were still pretty young.
Today, my kids actually love fish, vegetables (they are partial to my crispy kale chips) and oftentimes opt for the healthy food options then an easy junk food alternative. And in Michelle’s case, she shared how her two daughters have also made healthy food choices without her having to force them to do it.
By tackling the childhood obesity epidemic in the White House, the First Lady has made healthy eating and fitness a priority with families across the nation. No matter how busy you are as a working parent, it is essential that we make smart choices for our family and it’s great to know that kids today are being empowered in schools across the country to learn why it is so important to lead a healthy lifestyle. One thing that really struck a chord with me was when Mrs. Obama said it will be interesting to see when we look back on this generation that was initially raised on chicken nuggets and hopefully, those types of foods will no longer even be considered a viable meal option. Just as it’s become second nature to wear seat belts, kids have the potential today to grow up incorporating proper nutrition and fitness into their daily lives.
As Mrs. Obama looked around the room and remarked how inspired she was by the 150 bloggers and online influencers who have shared their individual stories with the world, I realized that there truly is power in storytelling. Everyone’s personal connection to the topic of getting and staying healthy is a powerful one. In my case, I recently lost a close relative to heart disease and have realized now more than ever the importance of taking care of my own health, while I care for my family.
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Whatever your personal story may be as it relates to the health and well being of your family, just know you are not alone. As a parent, it might be easier to cave in and give your kids what they want at the moment – but trust me – what they want may not necessarily be what they need. Provide them with healthy options like fruits, vegetables, nuts, yogurt and fish and make sure they go outside and play. If we give kids the chance to be kids again while nourishing them with the foods they need to grow and thrive, there’s no telling what they can accomplish. Just take a look at how healthy eating has transformed my two little kids into incredible young teens!
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A huge thank you to Cafe Mom and the Stir for inviting me to attend this incredible event. For more information on how you can get involved with Let’s Move, visit their website and make sure you take advantage of all the cool opportunities in your local community.

Love Cars? Then Head to the NY Auto Show March 25-April 3

17_mb_slc-class-620x413.jpgI have to admit – while I may not know how to fix a car, I have always loved the feeling of shopping for a new set of wheels. From a sleek sunroof, a super tricked out interior, to wifi, Sirius XM and of course, GPS options, there’s something to be said about getting the chance to check out what’s in store this coming year on the car front.
If you’re planning to buy or lease a car this year, then don’t miss the New York Auto Show which kicks off on March 25 and runs through April 3. Plus, if you enter our rafflecopter giveaway, you could be eligible to win two free tickets to the auto show along with a $150 gift card. And if that’s not enough, join us on March 21 for a fun and prize filled Twitter party on March 21 where will be talking about our favorite cars. Incidentally, my dream car is a Mercedes hard top convertible — that’s not happening any time soon but maybe I’ll get to sit in one at the car show!
The Auto Show twitter party will take place on March 21, from 8-9pm ET. The hashtag is #GNONYIAS16. We’ll be announcing the winner of the rafflecopter contest during the party too so join the fun and definitely come to the Auto Show – it’s going to be a blast!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

That Time I Got Invited to the White House

If anyone would have ever told me back in 2005 when I started Role Mommy that my mission to inspiring parents to pursue their passion while raising a family would have eventually led to me attending an event at the White House, I would have told them they were nuts. But that was then, when I was still climbing the ladder at a corporate job with two little kids in tow.
Fast forward 11 years and I just experienced the best day ever as a blogger. Thanks to Cafe Mom and The Stir, I was invited to attend a very special event at the White House where about 150 parenting bloggers would get to learn more about the First Lady’s “Let’s Move” initiative.
When we arrived, we were whisked through security and the process was pretty organized and simple. In a matter of minutes we were on the grounds of the White House and were able to roam freely – especially when one security guard told us – “you don’t fit the profile for terrorists.” He’s got that right!
We were all practically giddy walking up that hill to the White House and were even more amazed when we walked inside and were encouraged to visit all the rooms (no – we couldn’t check out the Lincoln Bedroom but we did see a lot!). I remember visiting the White House as a kid but when the rooms were all roped off when I was there. But under the Obama Administration, you can walk into a room and even sit down and take photo right under a painting of Jackie Kennedy.
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Before we knew it, we were invited into a room filled with round tables and we all took our seats in nervous anticipation as the event started. The morning started with an introduction by Deb Eschmeyer, the Executive Director of the Let’s Move campaign who talked about the impact Let’s Move has made to combat childhood obesity and educate kids and families about the importance of healthy eating and exercise.
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Since the Let’s Move campaign was introduced, over 80 million people in this country now live in a LetsMove city, town or county.
The mission of Let’s Move is to get to a place where everyone in communities across our nation has access to healthy lifestyle options.
Former Olympian Dominique Dawes
Throughout the event, we were introduced to so many inspiring women who play an integral role in the Let’s Move campaign. Former Olympian Dominique Dawes who is now a mom of two and the co-chair of the Fitness Council for Let’s Move, shared her personal story of how she realized the importance of finding time for herself when she became a mom. While nutrition is important to staying healthy and fit, it’s just as important to take time out of your day to exercise.
Dawes is also involved in Lets Move at school, an initiative to encourage kids to be active. “If we teach kids these healthy habits when they are young, they will continue these habits throughout their lives.”
Every Kid in a Park Initiative
From schools we hit the parks and learned that starting this year, 4th graders who visit our national parks with their families will be given the opportunity to visit for free! That means if you are traveling to the Grand Canyon or Acadia Naitonal Park or anywhere in between, if you’ve got a fourth grader in your car, you will get free admission!
You can download your pass at www.everykidinapark.gov .
The goal behind the every kid in a park initiative is to get everyone out to explore.
Community Gardens
Another incredible accomplishment of the Let’s Move Campaign are the amazing community gardens that have been created as a result of their efforts. From faith based communities to schools, kids and adults are coming together to plant seeds and grow vegetable gardens – teaching children about where food comes from and empowering them to become a part of the healthy eating movement.
On the Let’s Move website, you can find out more about how to start your own community garden and shares the following news:
The USDA has grant funds available to help parents create and start a farm to school program.
Technical assistance materials available – Let’s Move has spent the last seven years creating resources that schools can take advantage of.
Let’s Move wants to champion success – there are little girls like this all over the country — that are super psyched about the gardens — kale that they grew is on on the salad bar. When we share stories it inspires others.
Let’s Move is also running the “One in Melon Award” — accepting nominations now through April 15 — to showcase schools in our nation that have exemplary food to farm programs.
Choose My Plate
Growing up, we were conditioned to know about the Food Pyramid that was released by the USDA and told us how many proteins, breads, fruits and vegetables we should eat each today. Today, the pyramid has been replaced by the Healthy Plate. Some initiatives currently taking place to celebrate communities embracing this new model include:
Healthy Lifestyle Challenge — kids 8-12
1. My Plate My State — If you have a child in your home who loves to cook or develop recipes, then you might want to enter them into a contest where kids are encourage to submit recipes — one winner from every state will attend a Kids State Dinner at the White House! The goal is to showcase locally grown foods, from your state or region.

2. My Plate My Wins Challenge – show people you can make simple small changes on a day to day basis — 2+2+2 – try two foods from every food groups and 2 kinds of physical activity for 2 days. Over those 2 days you record your progress and that information lives in the Let’s Move super tracker. You can even form a team and compete with each other and add a little fun.
Finally, celebrities are also lending their names to the Let’s Move campaign, recording inspiring and hilarious videos and sharing them via social media. Follow the hashtag
#TeamMFNV to follow along with your favorite stars.
More to come in my next post…including details on Michelle Obama and the personal story in her life that led her to tackle childhood obesity with the Let’s Move campaign.

The Mominator

Guest Post by Entrepreneur, Fashion Designer, Wife and Role Mommy, Kelsey MacLean
KM-Website-Blog-TheMominator-pic-2.jpgIt was a beautiful late August summer day, and I took my 3 year old son to the park. He went running straight for a very tall climbing wall that seemed to be miles high for his chubby little hands and body. He barreled up to the playground climbing wall and immediately began to scramble up, my heart skipped a beat, and I started to make a move to pull him down, fearing he would fall and hurt himself.
But I stopped myself. I desperately wanted to shield him from every bump, bruise and scrape he might endure on that climbing wall and from every loss, heartache, and heartbreak that he is bound to suffer throughout his life. Oh how my heart thundered in my ears, yet I knew I had to back away, to remain only close enough to catch him if he fell, but far enough away so he did not know I was there. He confidently struggled to the top, hesitated, and turned around triumphantly smiling down at me before giggling and sliding down a terribly long slide.
I realized he had that brave youthfulness that has somehow over the years ebbed away from me, he wasn’t scared of all the bumps and bruises and scars that one encounters in the journey of life. I remember the bold courage of youth, the innocence of not knowing to proceed with caution. Overtime life chips away at these and if you are lucky, you learn to wear the scars with pride. Either way, you become more cautious and lose the wonderful perspective of youth that allowed you to see the world as a place filled with infinite possibilities.
Here is the deal on being a parent: I would instantly and unquestionably offer myself to ancient Aztec Indians to rip open my chest and remove my still beating heart to ensure the survival of my child. Being a mom does that, you love something so much there is no question you would sacrifice your own life for theirs, and at any given moment on any given day. Loving someone that deeply is scary, you want to shield and protect your child fiercely. There must be some sort of primal instinct, like a momma bear or as I call it, #TheMominator instinct kicks in. #TheMominator makes #TheTerminator look like a cute puppy. I want his life to be an easier, gentler life and to know nothing but sheer joy, but that is my own fantasy. He will face many challenges in life and must learn courage, independence and tenacity. I owe it to him to put his wellbeing before my own selfish insecurities. It’s my duty as a parent to see that he learns the tools and skills necessary to survive and thrive, and hopefully have a family of his own someday. In order to do that, a parent must stand back and let them scrape their knee, struggle to stand up, brush themselves off and move on, even if someday it’s away from me. It’s the absolute hardest thing I have ever endured, both beautiful yet heartbreaking at the same time. But that’s the deal. That’s being a parent, and I fully and completely signed up for this. If I want him to be the person I hope he will become, I cannot extinguish his bold curiosity. Someday I won’t be around to kiss away the scrapes and bruises, and someday very soon he won’t want me to.
I watched him make new friends today, laughing and playing tag with sheer JOY smeared across his face as I stood on the side, protectively watching over him like the helicopter mom I’m trying desperately not to be. I noticed his chubby hands and face are starting to thin and become more agile and muscular and he is growing, seemingly at the speed of light.
Later, as we leave the park, his hand in mine, I look up at the sky and am reminded that summer is fleeting, and my little boy is too. I will relish, cherish and remember each moment, I pray. -Kelsey MacLean, August, 2015 ©
– See more at KelseyMaclean.com.

A Special Thank You to Sandra

IMG_5317.JPGThere is nothing harder in this world than losing someone close to you – especially when they were so vibrant, beautiful, compassionate, joyful and loving. On March 2, we lost a dear member of our family who embodied all those qualities and then some. My cousin, Sandra Stoller was the ultimate conversationalist. Whenever we spent time with her on holidays, during the summer or on special occasions like a milestone birthday, we got to discover what a fun loving person Sandra was. The ultimate guest and hostess, Sandra was an incredible decorator and knew just what to bring to someone’s home that would leave a lasting impression.
But what set Sandra apart from anyone I know were her incredible thank you notes. Every time she visited our home or spent a special evening with us, she would follow up her visit with a handwritten thank you note. There was something about those special notes that made me realize what a caring and gracious person she was. Sandra always thought of others and that’s what made her an amazing wife, an incredible mother, devoted daughter and a true friend.
Sandra was an old soul who knew exactly what to say and do to brighten people’s lives and will be missed by those of us who were lucky enough to have been touched by her kindness, generosity, style and grace.
I know she is now in heaven watching over her husband and beautiful daughter and ensuring that her kind and loving spirit will live on in both of their hearts. Losing Sandra has made me realize the importance of not only saying thank you, but writing it down and telling someone how you feel in a handwritten note that will leave a lasting impression. Perhaps all those notes that Sandra left behind are memories we can all hold on to because we knew how happy she was to spend time with us. Sandra, we are so grateful to you for being who you were. A wonderful human being who will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.
In Sandra’s memory, I hope you will consider sending a thank you note to someone special in your life. Let her legacy live on as we give thanks to those who make our lives and our days brighter.
Rest in Peace Sandra.. And most of all…Thank you.