2016 has, to put it lightly, been a rather tumultuous year. There have been surprising election results in both the United States Of America and the United Kingdom, as well as several untimely celebrity deaths, as Alan Rickman, David Bowie, and Prince each passed away, while terrorist attacks, illness, and conflict across the world has brought people to their knees.
But there was one person that managed to surpass all of the arguments and grief that the above provoked and bring the world together in joy. That person was Chewbacca Mom.
Back in May a simple four-minute video that was posted to Facebook by Candace Payne, a 37-year-old mother who hails from Texas, showed her laughing uproariously while wearing a Star Wars Chewbacca mask. Candace Payne thought nothing of it as she uploaded the video alongside the caption, “It’s the simple joys in life…” on May 19.
However, by May 24 she had turned into a viral sensation. So much so that her video has now been watched over 164 million times on Facebook, making it the most viewed Facebook Live video of all time, while it also has 3.375 million reshares, too.
The heart-warming repercussions of Candace Payne’s video stretched even further than that, though. The popularity of the video meant that the Chewbacca Mask that she so wonderfully promoted, albeit by accident, soon started selling out online. As a thank you, Kohl’s, which is where Payne bought the mask from, provided her with $2,500 in gift cards, while she was even asked to appear on Good Morning America, where Hasbro presented her with even more Star Wars toys.
There was even more acts of generosity, too, as Payne received a $7,500 all-expenses-paid Memorial Day weekend trip to Disney’s Hollywood Studios, $2,000 to appear alongside Chewbacca actor Peter Mayhew at the Fan Dallas Expo, and $400,000 in scholarship money from Southeastern University. In total, Candace Payne predicted that she’d received over $420,000 in gift money.
Speaking to ABC News, Candace Payne emotionally admitted that the video, and the unexpected trajectory that it sent her on, has changed her and her family’s life forever. Candace Payne remarked,
“It’s changed the trajectory of my life and the trajectory of my family’s life. 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… I didn’t know it would be like this, and I’m grateful that the world found me. I am.”
Candace Payne admitted that she’s fully aware of the backlash that the video and her viral fame caused, but has chosen to complete ignore it.
“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. I didn’t know it would be like this, and I’m grateful that the world found me. I am.”
Candace Payne also recalled one of the most surreal moments of her time in the limelight, which occurred when she was a guest star on The Late Late Show with James Corden alongside J.J. Abrams. Payne was so taken aback by the mere sight of Abrams that she’s now confessed that she shushed the Star Wars: The Force Awakens director. Candace Payne recalled,
“When I got to meet him, that was a surreal moment for me. I think I shushed him. He introduced himself, and I was like, ‘Shh, I need to process this.'”
[Featured Image by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]