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Nia Vardalos is a star on the big screen, but she didn't think she would have a chance to be a star as a mom.

Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images.


Remember "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" from back in 2002? If not, do yourself a favor and rent it. The movie is a classic, but don't just take my word for it. To date, it's one of the top 10 highest grossing independent films of all time.

And guess what?

GIF from "My Fat Greek Wedding 2."

After 14 years, Nia Vardalos and her on-screen family are returning for seconds in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2," hitting theaters on March 25.

Despite all the success, however, Vardalos' life off-camera hasn't been all glitz and glamour.

Vardalos and her husband, Ian Gomez, wanted to raise a child badly but struggled for years to start their own family. They even turned to in vitro fertilization and adoption.

But nothing worked.

Then, their luck turned when they got a call about a little girl.

14 hours: After years of waiting, that was the amount of notice Vardalos and her husband received when they were matched with a 3-year-old girl living in a California foster home. Their world was about to be turned upside-down, but it didn't bother her one bit.

The emotional pain and rejection she faced for almost a decade allowed her to feel only one emotion: gratitude.

Vardalos is loving motherhood with her daughter. Photo from Nia Vardalos, used with permission.

"I'm thankful for my biological and adoption disappointments because they led me to my daughter," Vardalos told Upworthy. "When I met my daughter, everything went quiet because I knew she was the one."

But it wasn't smooth sailing at first.

Her new toddler didn't care about her new mom's Oscar nominations or successful films. Understandably, she wasn't happy with her environment, and she made her new parents aware of it.

"She was scared and angry," Vardalos said. "I spent as much time with her as possible to soothe her to make her feel safe as a part of our family."

So Vardalos made a choice: She took a break from Hollywood to focus her energy on her new role as a mom.

Vardalos knew she needed to make some big decisions to make her daughter feel safe and loved, and that's exactly what she did. Because of her hectic travel schedule, she didn't take acting gigs for three years in order to volunteer at her preschool, transition her daughter into her home, and eventually help her make the leap to kindergarten.

But Vardalos did her part to provide for her family. "Sure, I'm an actor, but I'm a screenwriter, too," she said. "In order to make a living, I took writing gigs."

She knew all along taking time away could mean losing her acting career altogether. But she did it anyway.

"At the time, I knew the risks of walking away from all things Hollywood, and if the phone stopped ringing, so be it," she said. "It's an understatement to point out that helping my daughter feel safe is more important."

Vardalos and her husband have the same hopes, dreams, and fears as other parents. Photo by Robyn Beck/Getty Images.

Now Vardalos wants to help other parents who are experiencing the same adoption challenges that she did.

Vardalos' daughter is 11 years old now, and she's thriving. But Vardalos knows there are plenty of other parents still struggling with the ups and downs of adopting children.

"The truth is, that's difficult to navigate through the adoption process," she said. "There are many people who prey upon folks who seek parenthood." So Vardalos wrote a book called "Instant Mom" that provides information on how to adopt children from all over the world. It went on to become a New York Times best-seller.

This book helped a lot of parents. Photo via Nia Vardalos, used with permission.

Vardalos is proud of the fact that the information in her book has helped to place children in permanent homes. "That makes me feel useful," she notes.

Best of all, she puts her money where her mouth is. All book proceeds are donated directly to adoption groups.

Vardalos knows that adoption isn't for everyone, and she advises everyone to do what feels right for them. To her, nothing feels more right than being a mom to her daughter.

"My eyes and heart have been opened permanently, and for that I'm thankful."

Pop Culture

She bought the perfect wedding dress that went viral on TikTok. It was only $3.75

Lynch is part of a growing line of newlyweds going against the regular wedding tradition of spending loads of money.

Making a priceless memory

Upon first glance, one might think that Jillian Lynch wore a traditional (read: expensive) dress to her wedding. After all, it did look glamorous on her. But this 32-year-old bride has a secret superpower: thrifting.

Lynch posted her bargain hunt on TikTok, sharing that she had been perusing thrift shops in Ohio for four days in a row, with the actual ceremony being only a month away. Lynch then displays an elegant ivory-colored Camila Coelho dress. Fitting perfectly, still brand new and with the tags on it, no less.

You can find that exact same dress on Revolve for $220. Lynch bought it for only $3.75.
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This article originally appeared on 08.21.18


Addie Rodriguez was supposed to take the field with her dad during a high school football game, where he, along with other dads, would lift her onto his shoulders for a routine. But Addie's dad was halfway across the country, unable to make the event.

Her father is Abel Rodriguez, a veteran airman who, after tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, was training at Travis Air Force Base in California, 1,700 miles from his family in San Antonio at the time.

"Mom missed the memo it was parent day, and the reason her mom missed the memo was her dad left Wednesday," said Alexis Perry-Rodriguez, Addie's mom. She continued, "It was really heartbreaking to see your daughter standing out there being the only one without their father, knowing why he's away. It's not just an absentee parent. He's serving our country."

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Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.