By Rima Abdelkader
Sara Cunningham thought she may have been duped when Hollywood actress Jamie Lee Curtis wrote her a Facebook message requesting a phone conversation. Curtis had seen Cunningham’s viral social media post volunteering to step in as a stand-in-mom for same-sex couples whose parents refused to attend their weddings.
“I said, ‘Of course, I’ll call you right after I pray that I’m not getting catfished,’” Cunningham, 55, told NBC News from Oklahoma City, with a laugh.
A representative for Curtis confirmed the two women met, and the actress shared an Instagram post about their gathering, applauding Cunningham for “changing the world with acceptance, compassion and love.”
Cunningham said she and Curtis met in late September when Curtis was in town for a speaking engagement.
“We just talked about the prospects if something should come from the rights of the book, what that might look like and just got to know each other,” Cunningham recalled.
In addition to her viral social media post from July, the Oklahoma mom, who has a gay son, wrote a self-published memoir in 2014 about her personal journey of acceptance and understanding the LGBTQ community. Cunningham said Curtis read the book.
“She shared it with her people, and they loved it, and they want to tell the story, and I believe the reason why is that at one time when I wrote the book, I thought I was the only mom in Oklahoma with a gay kid,” Cunningham said.
The actress was so moved by Cunningham’s story that she bought the rights to her memoir. Cunningham said Curtis plans to have the story scripted, but the format is uncertain.
Six months after it was posted online, Cunningham’s viral Facebook post continues to be shared by thousands of people around the world.
A New Zealand woman who saw and commented on the post was so inspired that she also volunteered to step in as a stand-in-mom at same-sex weddings.
Another Facebook user shared a story of not having any family and would take people up on their decision to step in.
“I love the power of social media,” Cunningham told NBC News over the phone. “I’ve seen so many wonderful things become of this even before it went viral.”
Since her post went viral, Cunningham said she has stepped in as a parent for a same-sex couple in Spearman, Texas, who got married in November, and she is considering stepping in as a parent for three upcoming weddings.
Of the invitations she’s received that she can’t attend, she crowdsources help through a private Facebook group she’s a part of with other mothers called Serendipitydodah Mama Bears To the Rescue. The group has more than 1,000 members.
Cunningham is also working on several projects with her nonprofit, Free Mom Hugs. She’s currently planning a transgender Valentine’s banquet, organizing a tour around Oklahoma to raise awareness through personal stories, and working on legislation concerning the controversial practice of so-called gay conversation therapy.
The Oklahoma mom is also looking forward to collaborating with Jamie Lee Curtis to share her inspiring story of acceptance and compassion.
“In show business,” Cunningham recalled Curtis explaining, “there’s a saying that says ‘stay tuned.'”
“So I’m just staying tuned,” Cunningham added.