OnlyOnAOL: Nia Vardalos has one word for naysayers: move
By: Donna Freydkin
No. Non. Nein.
It doesn't sound promising in any language.
Writer/actress Nia Vardalos dealt with years of rejection, of being told to get a nose job, to get a breast augmentation, and to leave Hollywood altogether. Instead of crumbling, she put pen to proverbial paper and wrote a one-woman show, which she turned into the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding."
The 2002 smash starred her and John Corbett as a couple navigating a rather tempestuous Greek family en route to the altar. Now, she's back with a sequel, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2," opening Friday. And she has another project in the works, something she's absolutely fired up about.
"I'm going to tell you something I haven't told anyone yet. I'm developing a play that's going to be announced soon. I've optioned a book and I'm developing a play that's very challenging material for me. Completely out of my comfort zone. Something I'd never have the audacity to take on five years ago," she says. "But the disappointments I went through somehow made me feel weightless. I don't care anymore what people think about me."
And that means working on her own timetable. The "Greek Wedding" sequel was 14 years in the making, and the delay is due to one thing: Vardalos' desire to become a mother. She chronicled her journey to adoption in "Instant Mom," and is now the parent of a daughter, 11, with husband Ian Gomez. The child's face is never seen in published photos, something Vardalos takes immensely seriously; she also doesn't keep any profits from book sales.
"We feel very useful that we donate all the proceeds from the book. You can tell how grateful I feel," says Vardalos.
And her life fed her movie. This time, it features Corbett and Vardalos as the parents of a teenager who's ready to leave home for college, much to mom's dismay. Meanwhile, the grandparents have a secret of their own that comes to light. The movie features the original cast, and plenty of strong male and female characters.
"My industry is the last industry where sexism, racism, and ageism is allowed. Rewarded. Absolutely. That's why I like Jennifer Lawrence. She's using her power to speak up about the gender gap in pay," says Vardalos. "That's what I like about John Corbett. He's a feminist. He has no issue with anything that happens on set. He's my partner."
She's been promoting "My Big Fat Greek Wedding 2" all over the world, but she's open about how much she pines for her daughter, while also being passionate about her job.
"I had my quiet days. I had my days when I could carpool without makeup," she says. "This press tour, I had to gear myself up to go from a writer to an actor."
Part of that: changing her look. Vardalos asked her stylist to jerk the actress out of her comfort zone, while also leaving her with a few comfortable fashion options. Now, she's ready to go home. She and her daughter FaceTime every day. "I'm almost done. I can't wait to be with my girlie," says Vardalos. "I really miss her."
Now that her daughter is older, she's aware of what mom and dad for for a living, which is a mixed blessing. "She says, 'I just want you to be my mom,'" says Vardalos.