J-Lo recognized the little girl.
The way the little girl remembers it, the pop diva walked up, said "Hi sweetie!" and wrapped Rowan Blanchard in a hug.
Blanchard smiled and returned the favor. But she had no idea whom she was hugging.
Blanchard, a young woman whose father's roots stretch back to Demarest, had a small role in Jennifer Lopez's "The Back-up Plan." But this weekend her name ascends to the bright lights. She will take over silver screens when the fourth installment of the "Spy Kids" saga hits theaters. Blanchard plays Rebecca Wilson in "Spy Kids: All the Time in the World in 4D."
"I definitely was a 'Spy Kids' fan," Blanchard said during a phone interview earlier this week. "I had watched 'Spy Kids 2' when I was 5 and 'Spy Kids 3' when I was 7. I grew up watching those movies."
But to land on the movie poster for one of those films … unthinkable. Blanchard said she spent five months auditioning for this part. "I never really thought I would get such a big role," Blanchard said.
And then the phone rang. It was director Robert Rodriguez.
"I was freaking out," Blanchard said.
If she wasn't star-struck by J-Lo, why would she be star-struck by another celebrity-laden cast? This one includes Joel McHale, Jeremy Piven and Jessica Alba. Blanchard and her young co-star Mason Cook play the spy kids.
No doubt her father, Mark Blanchard – Northern Valley-Demarest, Class of '80 – is beaming over his daughter's foray into acting.
"My dad is a theater director," Blanchard said. "Whenever we would have guests over, I would pretend to be Cinderella and dance around the house."
Blanchard said her dad introduced her to this industry, but promised they would pull back if she did not like it. "On my first audition," Blanchard said, "I ended up really liking it."
They visit New Jersey every so often, occasionally staying with Mitchell Lynn, one of Mark's high school friends. Blanchard said she enjoys the trips to Bergen County.
"California's great, you have everything," Blanchard said. "When you come to New Jersey, it's so peaceful and so calming."
Right now – not so calming. She has been on five planes in two weeks. Her big movie opens Friday. And school starts back up in September.
"I want to stay in regular school, if I can, forever, partly because I get to be a kid," Blanchard said. "When I go to school, I don't want to be the spy kid. I want to be the kid."