Can you imagine growing up with Mary Poppins as your real-life mom? For Emma Walton Hamilton, it was completely normal to come home to Julie Andrews and then go out into the world and see her mother's face everywhere from movie theaters to Disney products. Not to mention one of her godmothers was Carol Burnett. But despite the fame from her legendary filmography and frequent traveling that came as a result, the mother-daughter duo became quite close and even work together professionally.
Emma was along for the ride from the very beginning of Andrews' career...quite literally. Walt Disney saw the actress perform in the musical Camelot on Broadway and immediately knew that she needed to be Mary Poppins. But at the time, Andrews had just found out that she was pregnant.
"I said, oh, Mr. Disney, it's wonderful...But I'm afraid I'm pregnant," Andrews explained to NPR.
"And he said, oh, that's OK. We'll wait. And I didn't realize, of course, at the time, having never made a movie - and I'd been to Hollywood to visit, but - and only once worked there on a television show but certainly hadn't ever made a movie. So I had no idea how long preproduction on a movie takes. He said, OK. We'll wait. And he did."
Not only did Disney wait for Andrews to give birth to Emma, but he offered her husband at the time, set and costume designer Tony Walton, a job on the film as well, which ended up earning him an Academy Award nomination. Growing up, people would frequently question Emma about which of her mother's famous songs she would sing to her at home and the answer was...none of them. Andrews tried to keep her home life as normal as possible despite the fact that Emma grew up splitting time between her father in New York and her mother and stepfather in Europe following their breakup.
"You know, one doesn't generally bring one's work home if one can help it," Emma explained to NPR.
"And so if she - when she sang to me, it was usually, you know, English lullabies and Old English songs from vaudeville days that, you know, harked back to her youth."
Emma grew up to become a children's book author and over the years, she and her mother have worked on countless books together including the Dumpy the dump truck books, The Great American Mousical, The Very Fairy Princess, Thanks to You: Wisdom From Mother and Child, Simeon's Gift, and more children's literature and picture books. They have even written Raising Bookworms: Getting Kids Reading for Pleasure and Empowerment for parents as well as Andrews' second memoir Home Work: A Memoir of My Hollywood Years. The New York Times bestseller includes numerous personal stories from Andrews' experiences working on The Sound of Music and other iconic films as well as an inside look at her second marriage with Blake Edwards. Andrews and her daughter also created the Netflix children's series Julie's Greenroom with The Jim Henson Company. Now, Emma serves as the Editorial Director for The Julie Andrews Collection.
Though her parents' marriage didn't work out, Emma grew up with a strong example of a happy relationship with her mother and stepfather. The couple ended up adopting two more children -- Amy and Joanna, in addition to Edwards' children from his previous relationship, Jennifer and Geoffrey. Years later, Emma has been married to actor/director Stephen Hamilton since 1991 and the couple has two children together, Sam and Hope. It was actually Sam who inspired the first book she wrote with Andrews. At the time, Emma was an artistic director in the theater when her mother first made the suggestion to write about trucks which Sam loved. Eventually, Dumpy the dump truck was written.
"And that was our first attempt," Andrews explained.
"We had no idea that we'd be compatible, and we, I believe, truly, truly are. When we do work together, the best idea wins. I mean, if we have an argument about something, it's usually obviously about - a creative argument. And we've never actually fought over anything. It's always a recognition that, somewhere, the other one is so passionate about something that it's valid. We have different strengths."
"She comes in with the wonderful surprises and the whimsy, and I'm all about the structure," added Emma.