At her New York premiere, Rebecca Danigelis was pulled in all directions. Everyone wanted a picture with the most unlikely star of the silver screen.
“It was really bizarre because I’m like, ‘This is just my mom. We just showed up out of an Uber,'” her son Sian-Pierre Regis said. “She went from hotel housekeeper to household name over the last four or five years.”
The journey began in 2016 after she left this voicemail for her son: “I just got fired. Just want you to know that. Call me. Bye.”
She had been fired at 75 years old. “I was in shock. I never expected it to happen to me,” Danigelis said.
“My biggest worry was like, if she loses her job, what else does she have?” Regis said.
Danigelis tried finding another job. She went to career centers and scoured job listings. But found nothing. “Ain’t no reason anybody is going to hire somebody that is 75 years of age,” she said.
Which is why her son, a freelance journalist, took a different tack. “She worked her hands to the bone. She deserved to feel joy. And that’s what I wanted to give her,” he said.
So the mother and son hit the road and started checking items off her bucket list. Milk a cow in Vermont. Done. Take a hip-hop lesson. Check. Learn how to use Instagram. It’s still a work in progress.
Regis chronicled their adventure in a new documentary titled, “Duty Free.” The film, now showing across the country, is his gift to her.
Although Danigelis couldn’t be more grateful, she said it was hardly necessary. She said no one needs to roll out a red carpet for their mom on Mother’s Day. They just need to follow the sidewalk to her door.
“The most important thing you can give your moms is time. You want to spend time with her,” she said.