Entertainment Tonight‘s Nancy O’Dell is launching her storybook app on iTunes called Little Ashby: Star Reporter. The feel-good holiday adventure is interactive and teaches educational facts throughout, as well as compassion and acceptance. There are games to reinforce the lessons, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the Muscular Dystrophy Association.
Nancy opens up to Celebrity Baby Scoop about the interactive app and her new book, Here’s to Fabulous You, her 5-year-old daughter Ashby who is into sports and asserting her independence, and her thoughts on having another baby.
CBS: What inspired you to create the app, Little Ashby: Star Reporter?
NO: “I always say one of the main reasons I am in the career I am, as a reporter, is that I am constantly meeting new people, going to different places and learning so much every day in the process when covering a story. So, I thought how fun it would be for little kids to get to travel the world too, learning all about places and people.
Obviously, they can’t do that in reality by themselves, but they can via an animated app. So that’s the inspiration for Little Ashby: Star Reporter.
Every app is a fun storybook with educational facts thrown in along the way as Ashby and her FUNtastic crew go on their assignments. It also teaches compassion and values. Apps are so much fun and intriguing to kids and I see my daughter learning so much while using them. When I asked her what I should name the little reporter, she said ‘Why, of course, Ashby!’ She doesn’t voice Little Ashby as she is too young for that, but it is named in her honor.”
CBS: Tell us about Little Ashby’s first assignment.
NO: “Well, I thought what would feel like the biggest assignment a little kid reporter could ever get…to interview Santa Claus, of course! So the first story is called Santa’s Big Premiere. Little Ashby gets her assignment to go to the North Pole on Christmas Eve to interview Santa before he leaves and come back with the story of what the Holiday Spirit is all about. Along the way, she learns facts such as where the North Pole is, why it is dark in the winter there, what the Northern Lights are, what Arctic animals are there.
There are games at the end to reinforce what is learned. The app is super-interactive as kids love to tap things to make them work, and of course, Little Ashby comes back with a great report. For the next storybook, her assignment may be to go to the moon and learn everything about man’s first landing there.”
CBS: Its so great that you’re donating a portion of proceeds to the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Tell us about your work and connection with the organization.
NO: “I am proud and honored to serve as the National ALS Ambassador for MDA. MDA was there for me and my family every step of the way after my mother was diagnosed, and then passed, from complications of ALS. I love giving back to them in any way I can.
I met Bryson Foster, the MDA Goodwill Ambassador, at an MDA event and he was so adorable with his little Southern accent and cute personality. He wants to be a broadcaster some day, so he was the first person I thought of to voice Arty, Little Ashby’s best friend and cameraman. He did an amazing job bringing Arty to life.”
CBS: You are also involved with Best Buddies. What inspired you to get involved with the organization?
NO: “I first learned about Best Buddies when I was a reporter in Miami doing a story about it. When I heard what the organization was about, I knew I had to become involved. My Aunt Ellen was a person with Down Syndrome. I so wish Best Buddies had existed when she was growing up.
Sometimes people with intellectual disabilities tend to lead isolated lives, but not with Best Buddies. They also have a Best Buddies job program. My boss is so supportive and we hired the most amazing buddy who works at Entertainment Tonight.”
CBS: You also just finished writing your third book, Here’s to Fabulous You. Can you share with us the background of the book, and what influenced you to write it?
NO: “Well, time spent gathered with friends is priceless. It’s when I get rejuvenated and caught up. It’s where I pick up some great tips, advice, ideas and suggestions -hanging out with the people I trust.
I didn’t want all those good pieces of advice and all those small-but-special moments to get lost, so I created a place to organize all the good stuff in life. My book is divided into four sections: Relationships, Aspirations, Feeling Good and House to Home.
I also share tips and strategies I use to make the most of all these areas of life. Think of it as a place you can physically post and organize all those things you have been wanting to do or experience. And it makes a GREAT gift for a friend or family member! Here’s to Fabulous You is available at www.creativememories.com.”
CBS: How is this book different from your last two?
NO: “This is more of a working book. It is simple and portable. You can put clippings, quotes, photos in the book. It comes with little stickers to post things in it, so you don’t lose or forget about things that matter to you. Then you can easily pull them out when you need them.
For example, if your girlfriend tells you about a bottle of wine she loves, record it down so u know what to get her for her birthday. If you see a bracelet advertised you want to go get, tear the photo out and post it in the book. Another example of how to use the book: if your children say something funny, like mine do all the time, there’s a place in my book to write what they say down so you don’t forget it. Then after you get several cute quotes, they are all already organized for you so you can transfer them along with pictures and make an album out of cute quotes.”
CBS: How is Ashby doing? Is she in school this year?
NO: “She is 5 and she is in school. I am seeing her independence emerge so much this year. We were all at a lake over the summer for vacation with my sister and her boys. My nephews were jumping off a high-up rock into the lake and Ashby wanted to do it too. I told her she was too little to do that. To which she said, ‘Mommy, I am 5 now and I need to be able to make my own decisions!’ What is she gonna say when she is 15?! Needless to say, she was not allowed to jump off that rock into the lake!”
CBS: How old are your stepsons? What are they involved with these days?
NO: “My stepsons are 13 and 17 years old now. They are very much involved in the typical boy stuff at those ages – all kinds of sports. I’m very lucky in that they are such great boys. My oldest stepson, Tyler, has his first girlfriend too, so that has been quite the interesting experience. She is a very sweet girl (we approve). In fact, she is such a lovely gal that my daughter absolutely adores her, and when she comes over, Ashby tells Tyler that she is her friend, not his!”
CBS: Your children are in the ‘busy years.’ Are you forever taking them around to activities or are they more homebodies?
NO: “The ‘busy years’…ain’t that the truth! Between the various schools/sports schedules/games/practices etc., it is hard to keep everything straight. My daughter played basketball over the summer, then she started tennis, and now it’s soccer. My oldest stepson plays golf and my younger one, soccer. I have to keep a calendar at home just for sports.
I love it, though, because I think sports are so important for kids in teaching them so much regarding sportsmanship, being a team player, achievement, and competition.”
CBS: Every time we talk with you we have to ask: any updates on the possibility of having another baby?
NO: “I love being a mom so very much. It is the most amazing thing ever, so I would love to have another baby or two or three or four! However, I’m not a spring chicken. We always answer by saying, ‘We’ll see.’ “