How I Blew My First Celebrity “Interview” with Katie Holmes at the Num Noms Snackables Launch
I don’t even know why I was invited. I like to think it’s because of my online presence as a parenting writer. Perhaps it’s because of my brush with fame meeting Kelly Clarkson at a TODAY Parenting Team event last week that attracted more than my usual 20 likes on Instagram.
Regardless, when a PR firm invited me to cover the launch of Num Noms Snackables with a special appearance by Katie Holmes (Joey!!!), I was ecstatic. An activity for my kids! Free stuff! Cupcake decorating! A celebrity! What could be better on a random Tuesday afternoon? I was even willing to venture below 57th Street all the way down to Macdougal in the Village to Cafe Clover, an amazing restaurant which I’m now obsessed with. Owner of Cafe Clover and nearby “healthy bodega” Clover Grocery, Kyle Hotchkiss Carone was sweet and adorable. Even when I didn’t know who he was. I pulled my daughter out of her gymnastics class and headed downtown.
“What are Num Noms?” you might wonder. I did too. My older daughter thought I was crazy for not knowing and was like, “Mom! You don’t know what Num Noms are?! ” Come on. I thought it was impressive enough that I could tell the difference between Jojo Siwa and Maddie Ziegler.
As I discovered from online and real-life research, Num Noms are tiny plastic toys in various shapes and sizes similar to Shopkins (if that helps). The Snackables line includes “cereal” made up of individually packaged, collectible characters, “flavored” spoons, light-up pretend sucker rings and dippers with “special sauces.” Turns out, Snackables are not edible. They “make playing with your food fun!” by allowing kids to mimic actual eating. Because they don’t do that enough.
Kids absolutely go crazy for these things. There’s a giant collectible chart that comes with the items incentivizing unwitting children to collect all the characters (read: buy more Num Noms). Think baseball card collecting back when Dwight Gooden and Daryl Strawberry were gainfully employed. The tiny size of the toys jives with little kids’ tiny fingers. The Num Noms are colorful, bright, happy and textured little delights that kids can play with for hours.
But back to Katie Holmes. My 4-year-old daughter and I were shoveling M&M topped cupcakes into our mouths on a banquette when she glided into the restaurant. Tall, beautiful, smiling, quiet, wow. I flashed back to my younger self in my childhood home watching “Dawson’s Creek” on the tiny TV my mother finally allowed me to have in my room. The screen was a two inch square in the front of a long rectangular metal box as big as my desk. So Joey was really about the size of my thumbnail but that’s okay: I still loved her.
Trying to play it cool, I snapped a few covert pictures of her on my iPhone before getting up the courage to walk over to her.
“Hi,” I said, as she peered down at me.
I’ve never felt like more of a shrimp — and that’s saying a lot for someone who has gone through life at 5’2”.
“Hi,” she said sweetly.
“Would you mind if I took a picture with you?”
“Sure,” she said.
I stopped a hapless other mom walking by and threw her my cell phone to snap a picture for me.
Afterwards, I said to Katie (I’m calling her Katie now), “So, can I ask, why do you like Num Noms?”
“Where are you from?” she asked back.
Thinking she was curious about me, I launched into, “Oh, I’m from here in New York. I live on the Upper East Side. I’m a mom too: I have four kids.”
She tried again.
“Who do you write for?”
Oh crap. That’s what she meant. I rattled off the parenting sites I contribute to regularly, my face flushed with embarrassment. Apparently I convinced her enough to answer my question. She took a deep breath.
“I just think it’s a really cool company,” she said. “I have a little niece who is six and I think it’s really fun. I like it when kids can play with things with their hands.”
We just stared at each other. I had no follow-up questions prepared.
“Okay, great,” I said. “Thank you!”
I walked away, humiliated.
Luckily, a few minutes later one of the event organizers persuaded my daughter to squish right into the corner of a banquette next to Katie to decorate cupcakes with her for a photo shoot. Since my daughter wouldn’t go anywhere without me plastered by her side, I also snuggled into the booth.
I tried to make mom-related small talk again to cover up my flub. We started talking about how to amuse young kids and figured out that we both had family from Ohio and daughters who did gymnastics. I felt I had moderately redeemed myself by the time the photographers turned away.
Katie was gracious and lovely but much more reserved than I expected. To be honest, I didn’t even expect to talk to her so the whole thing was a huge victory. Next time I get invited to cover an event with a celebrity, I’m coming with a notebook and pen, a list of questions and a business card (Vista Print, here I come), not just my daughter and a bag of her snacks and stuffed animals. (I know. Duh.) At least I left with enough Num Noms to get four kids through the next snow day.