Dennis Rodman and Me

If you read my post from yesterday…you can see that my daughter Helen and I are moving. 

While packing, I found some “GOTR stuff” and thought it might be fun to share a couple of the items I uncovered. 

Item 1: Yes. That IS a photo of me with Dennis Rodman. Marisa Tomei and Jane Krakowski are in that photo too. 

In 1998, just six weeks after Helen was born, I flew to NYC and participated in Mazda’s Search For “America’s Most Out of the Box Person.” Whoever won would also receive a brand new car. 

My mom nominated me for my starting Girls on the Run, which in 1998 was just two years old. 

At the time my little family had very little income (my husband was bringing in some income…more than me for sure) and I can remember going to Target to buy that black pantsuit and some shoes to match it. 

I had stopped highlighting my hair (I was breastfeeding Helen and didn’t want there to be any potential negative side effects from the chemicals plus the savings…hair highlights can cost a penny or two!)

We had only one car at the time, two kids and GOTR was growing and so my mom saw the shout out for nominations and thought it would be a win-win…maybe a new car and great publicity for GOTR!

Out of thousands of nominations five folks were selected and I was one of them! My mom and I spent three days in New York City. I can close my eyes and remember it like it was yesterday. 

The event took place down at Chelsea Piers and the media was there in full force. Not for Mazda or the contest, but because Dennis Rodman had just announced the end (or beginning, I can’t remember) of his marriage to Carmen Electra. 

Each contestant had to give a three to five minute pitch for why we should be chosen as America’s most out of the box individual. 

I read the now infamous tale of my struggling with “the Girl Box” and how Girls on the Run was going to help shatter it. I had beautiful slides and video footage from some local news shows that played behind me while the Verve’s song “Bittersweet Symphony” provided the music backdrop. (That song was a big hit with Nike at the time so the parallel to GOTR provided some musical context.)

I remember feeling extremely out of place. The other contestants included a man who wore diapers as part of some advertising scheme, a woman who photographed nudes underwater and someone who coordinated the world’s biggest “Chicken Dance” according to the Guinness Book of World Records. 

Of course neither my mom nor I, knew at the time that the award was in search of quirky and so her nomination, which was extremely heartfelt and poignant, somehow got me in the lineup. 

The judges, Marisa Tomei, Jane Krakowski and Dennis Rodman selected me as the winner. I remember seeing Marisa Tomei cry. 

I will never forget Dennis Rodman’s kindness when he came to join me on stage. We stood side by side for a few photographs. He joked about the paparazzi and warned me that when they were given the “go ahead” to approach the stage I should stand behind him or I might get hurt. 

He was right. I had and never have experienced the rush of cameras and microphones (more than fifty people) like that and once they had surrounded him (he literally pushed his arms behind him like wings to insulate me from the jockeying and posturing of cameras and people) I was gently escorted to the green room. 

For winning first place I was given a chance to go to dinner with him and the other celebrities. 

I passed on that offer. 

I missed my baby Helen and young son Hank. My mom and I took a flight home later that evening. 

I also won the car…a Mazda Protege. A week later my mom and I went to pick the car from the Mazda parking lot. I picked a blue one. 

Hank was with me. I fondly recall now watching him jump with glee into the car (as we positioned the car seat) and his pausing for a moment to wipe his little runny nose across the backseat. I smile now thinking about it. 

2. That other photo says “Hi Gorgeous” on it. Very few folks know this, but I went on a four-city speaking tour with Oprah Winfrey and a handful of other folks, back in 2004. 

My book had just come out and thanks to GOTR’s then partnership with New Balance, they introduced me to the folks at Oprah Magazine who were putting on the tour. 

I was most floored by the amazing Oprah Winfrey herself, and her ability to read an audience…to find the words. 

Each time before she spoke, she would stand in silence…sometimes prayer…for a good three minutes…eyes closed…at the base of the stairs that were adjacent to the stage. (The whole thing was set up outside.)

She would then very consciously, lift her head, open her eyes, throw her shoulders back, exhale and confidently proceed up the stairs and onto the stage. 

That was also the first time I experienced “hair and makeup” for an event. 

Don’t tell anybody but I washed off most of the make up and didn’t let them touch my hair. I’m just not a curls kinda woman. Never have been. 

Y’all have a good Monday. Lord knows what else I will find in all this packing.

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