It’s a story about Hollywood and humility and a high school chemistry teacher from Berlin with some bigtime credentials to back her latest children’s book.
“I’ve been unbelievably blessed,” Katie Vandrilla said.
That blessing, found on one of the first few pages of Vandrilla’s book, ‘Thumper’s London Adventure,’ is a foreword by none other than Johnny Depp.
“He found my first book that was dedicated to him and he was very touched by that and then when the second book was getting ready, I asked if he’d write a foreword and he said ‘yes’ and he did,” Vandrilla said.
Vandrilla and Depp have a story of their own. Eleven years ago, the pair met in London on the set of Dark Shadows as part of Katie’s Make-A-Wish after undergoing treatment for leukemia. She says Depp couldn’t have been more kind.
“He gave us undivided attention. He made us feel like we were the center of the world,” Vandrilla said. “He listened to what we had to say. His people were trying to pull him back because he was actively filming and he was like ‘no I want to stay,’ and he meant it,” Vandrilla said.
Fast-forward a few chapters later, Katie dedicated her first book, based on her stuffed animal Thumper’s adventures, to Depp. The proceeds all went to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, and the A-list star took notice.
“He doesn’t do charity for the recognition or the publicity, he does it on the down-low so when he reached out to me I was like ‘wow this is incredible, I don’t deserve this,’” Vandrilla said.
It’s Katie’s story of survival and hope that has stuck with Depp, even worlds away in Hollywood.
“There always is hope no matter what’s going on, like today is a day and there’s something good in that no matter how bad it is, there’s some positive to it,” Vandrilla said.
The proceeds from both of Katie’s books go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.