Not long after the U.S. came to a screeching halt because of COVID-19, the two superstars launched “SaveWithStories,” an Instagram account that features celebrities and other notable figures reading children’s books. The line-up already includes Chris Pratt, Reese Witherspoon, Kerry Washington, J.J. Abrams, Kaitlyn Dever, Gabrielle Union, Kelly Clarkson, Chris Evans, Eva Longoria and Hoda Kotb, among others.
The campaign is a fundraiser for Save the Children and No Kid Hungry. The celebrity readers explain in their videos how to make a $10 donation with just one text. “We have had 25,000 individual $10 donations come in,” Garner says.
Variety caught up with Garner and Adams by phone on Wednesday morning to find out how a trip to get school supplies inspired “SaveWithStories,” who caused Garner to sweat while writing her an email to request she read and whether Adams plans on joining TikTok.
How did “SaveWithStories” come about?
Jennifer Garner: It started with Amy.
Amy Adams: I was picking up my daughter’s schools supplies and hearing sort of through news reports and different accounts about children in her school who were really going to be struggling during this time, and I just felt so helpless and I really wanted to do something. Someone said at this supply pickup, ‘Maybe we can read to each other’s kids online.’ And then I heard something on the news that it’s a great way to reach out to nieces and nephews. It sparked my imagination and I thought how great would it be if we could read stories and use it as a fundraising avenue to help children who are struggling during this time with not having enough food and not having enough resources to continue their education. I reached out to Jen and she’s just been a force of nature
JG: Amy called me and said someone suggested we speak because we have some of the same representatives. We overlap in a lot of ways. It was two weeks ago, during my last trip traveling somewhere, I was at the California capital building with Gov. Newsom. He was ping-ponging back and forth between shutting the state down and what that was going to look like. I was there with [Save the Children Action Network president] Mark Shriver to talk about rural California and the poor kids there and of course it turned into talking about how was food going to get to those kids. The week before, Mark and I had happened to be in Kentucky talking to Gov. Andy Beshear about the exact same thing. We were out at a school in Perry County, Kentucky, talking to the school superintendent and principal and how the kids have breakfast, lunch and afternoon snacks and how they take food home every single day. We talked about what was going to happen to them. So it was really top of mind when Amy called and I said, “I know who to call and we actually can do this.” So we decided to partner with No Kid Hungry right away because their expertise in urban America and education, and Save the Children is more rural. The partnership has been really great because we have been able to reach kids across the country.
When you look at the lineup of celebrities you have reading books, it’s like a lineup for the Oscars. Who is one person you really want to get to read a story?
AA: I’m grateful for everyone we have got. I hate to look a gift horse in the mouth yet. And not only actors, but religious leaders, singers, dancers. It’s been really inspiring and moving to see so many people step forward and want to help right now.
JG: I have been asking people all day every day. Today, I asked my friend Ina Garten if she would read and she said yes. When I emailed her I was sweating
If you could talk to the kids who are watching the stories being told and are worried about where their next meal could be coming from, what would you tell them?
JG: I would say we care about you and this whole community of people cares, and so do the 25,000 people who have given money just to get meals to you and so do all the people who are working so hard to make all of this happen. No matter how scary the world is right now, you still really matter.
I love that you have bilingual readings and you even have a drag queen from “RuPaul’s Drag Race.”
JG: I haven’t gotten to share this with Amy, but Save With Stories India, Australia, Netherlands, Switzerland and the U.K. are up and running. All of these countries have their own celebrity lists and they’re finding a publisher to kick it live like we have with Scholastic. South Korea is up and running. So cool idea, Amy, way to go.
AA: I really relied on Jen’s expertise here because I wasn’t even on social media before we started this. I joined Instagram to launch this.
I can’t wait to see Amy Adams’ TikTok
AA: [Laughs] That’s not going to happen.
JG: Give it some time. Never say never.