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Bobbie’s Beat

Posted: Friday, Feb 15th, 2013


Princess Emme INSET: Bobbie Lippman


Disney features a

special princess

Mail call around here is full of happy surprises.  Today, I received the following amazing and inspiring story from my niece, Julie.  Julie and her husband, Karl, are missionaries in South Africa and the proud parents of three beautiful little girls - Jensen, age 6, Emme, 4, and Adison Rose, 10 months. Emme was born with Down syndrome and has special needs.   Here is Julie’s story:

• • • 

Dear Aunt Bobbie:  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 called “I am a princess.”  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.  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 to princesses in all shapes and sizes – with character and courage.  

On a whim, I sent off a response and attached Emme's photo. 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, etc.  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. These were model children – delightful candidates with perfect behavior.  We, however, were another story.

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 behavior 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 not 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 more than Cape 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 the family.  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 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!”

I (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 later find out the girls had their nano second of fame after all.

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

• • • 

I love this story and have a feeling old Walt himself would approve of a special little girl named Emme representing the Disney empire.



Bobbie Lippman is a professional writer who lives in Seal Rock with her husband, Burt, their dog, Charley, and a shelter cat named Lap Sitter. Bobbie can be contacted at bobbisbeat@aol.com

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