My Big Fat Greek Wedding star, Nia Vardalos, talks books

April 10, 2013 Anna Spivak
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In a book-filled room crammed to capacity with smiling fans, their questions and the excitement of Nia Vardalos’ arrival, a phone loudly rang in the crowd.

On the edge of their seats, nervous that the actress, mother and author of her first book, Instant Mom, might have been disturbed by the noise, the crowd at Bay Ridge’s BookMark Shoppe tensely looked around at one another.

“Is that my mom?” Vardalos asked the crowd with a laugh.

With comedy hits such as 2002’s “My Big Fat Greek Wedding” and 2009’s “I Hate Valentine’s Day,” Vardalos has managed to delight audiences with her triple-threat writing, directing and acting talents.

Switching over to the realm of published writing, Vardalos undertook the difficult and at times emotional task of sharing her life stories and funny moments and the road to the adoption of her now eight-year-old daughter.

“She is an extraordinary woman,” commented BookMark Shoppe co-owner Bina Valenzano. “To go through what she’s been through, it takes a very strong person.”

Keeping with the family aspect that is so relatable in her films, Vardalos spoke to the crowd with an incredible familiarity, answering questions, joking about her Greek heritage, and engaging the audience with trivia and t-shirt prizes.

“It’s great that she’s here in Bay Ridge,” added John Quaglione, who is running for the City Council. “It is significant for the Greek community.”

From a small town herself, specifically Winnipeg, Canada, Vardalos said she understands “the value of reaching out to the community.”

With a little push from her agent and husband Ian Gomez, Vardalos said she was able to write what she thinks is, “not just a book for moms.

“If I can get the message of hope and optimism across, I’ve done my job,” she added.

As if the crowd didn’t already feel like they were a part of Vardalos’ family, she urged everyone to stand behind her, and sing her mother Doreen a happy birthday via video message. It was a big fat Bay Ridge party.

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