Kristen Bell was picking up her daughters from preschool when she saw the telephoto lens of a paparazzi photographer in the parking lot across the street.
She knew how dangerous it would be for the whole world to know where her children attend school — the "Frozen" star does have a few unhinged fans. That's exactly why, in 2014, she and husband Dax Shepard led a successful campaign to pressure responsible news outlets (including NBC and TODAY) to stop showing paparazzi photos of celebrities' children. But there are still paparazzi, and this one had her daughters Lincoln, 5, and Delta, 3, in his sights.
"I said, 'Kristen, you can handle this,'" Bell told TODAY's Natalie Morales onstage at the Mom 2.0 Summit in Pasadena, California.
With her children in the car, she drove across the street, blocked his car in and knocked on his window.
"Hi," she told the shocked photographer, "My name's Kristen. Do you realize how much you are putting my kids at risk" by photographing them at their school, she asked calmly.
"I have confidence your mom raised you better," Bell said. Then she asked him to delete the photos. And he did.
Bell told Morales and the crowd gathered for the conference that her calm confrontation showed the power of vulnerability. Morales confessed that she would have been tempted to just go all Mama Bear on the photographer.
"If I had gone up to that car and yelled at him, I guarantee you he would not have deleted those pictures," Bell said.
Bell's conversation with Morales started on the absolute perfect note when Morales' cell phone rang onstage and Bell insisted upon answering it, then had a conversation with Morales' babysitter for her two sons, confirming that pizza for dinner would be fine. The crowd of mostly moms (and some dads, and parenting marketers) loved it.
Morales talked about her leap of faith in moving across country last year with her family to become co-host of "Access Hollywood," while continuing as West Coast anchor for TODAY. The move has given her more time with her family, she wrote in an essay for the TODAY Parenting Team, and inspired her to write a cookbook, "At Home With Natalie."
The TODAY Parenting Team was the media sponsor of the conference, and awarded the TODAY Parents' Choice award to Parenting Team contributor Kristin Shaw. You can read her posts and join the Parenting Team yourself here: It's open to everyone!
Morales' onstage conversation with Bell ranged over many topics, from the contradictions of motherhood — children "can be so gross and still you would lie down on train tracks for them," Bell said, "and that's the umbilical cord that never dies" — to the advice she would give her 18-year-old self.
"Do nudity while you've got it," Bell joked. "I missed the boat."
This story was originally published in May 2018.