Star Wars is a cultural phenomenon that that seems to soar higher with every film release, but in May of this year, it also catapulted Candace Payne to heights she never expected.
Thanks to her viral "Chewbacca Mom" video that she shared on Facebook, Payne was suddenly meeting some of her favorite stars and directors and became a household name seemingly overnight. In a recent interview with ABC news, Payne recalled how much the experience has changed her life.
“It’s changed the trajectory of my life and the trajectory of my family’s life,” Payne said. “It will never be the same for us. It’s so cool to see that. They have so many more opportunities already just because of what a silly little video and mask has done. The doors of opportunity that have been opened. … [I’m] able to travel and I’ve started speaking at different places. I’ve been speaking on simple joys 'cause I think even that phrase -- I didn’t expect it to take off like it did at the beginning of the video."
Payne even got to meet Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams. “When I got to meet him, that was a surreal moment for me. I think I shushed him,” Payne said. “He introduced himself, and I was like, ‘Shh, I need to process this.’”
She's made peace with the fact that people are going to think what they want of her and her success, but she focuses much more on how she handles herself in response to those opinions.
“They can have any opinions that they want of me. I have opinions of people and things that I don't even know. I mean, I don't expect everybody to be positive all the time. But I do expect for myself to be responsible for how I am and how I respond. And so that's all I can do,” she said. I didn’t know it would be like this, and I’m grateful that the world found me. I am,” said Payne.
From Lucasfilm comes the first of the Star Wars standalone films, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, an all-new epic adventure. In a time of conflict, a group of unlikely heroes band together on a mission to steal the plans to the Death Star, the Empire’s ultimate weapon of destruction. This key event in the Star Wars timeline brings together ordinary people who choose to do extraordinary things, and in doing so, become part of something greater than themselves.
Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is directed by Gareth Edwards and stars Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Ben Mendelsohn, Donnie Yen, Mads Mikkelsen, Alan Tudyk, Riz Ahmed, Jiang Wen and Forest Whitaker. Kathleen Kennedy, Allison Shearmur and Simon Emanuel are producing, with John Knoll and Jason McGatlin serving as executive producers.
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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story is in theaters now.