Take five with…Nia Vardalos: My favourite time-savers

Whether she’s revising the script for her upcoming My Big Fat Greek Wedding sequel or helping her daughter Ilaria, 8, get ready for the day, Nia Vardalos always knows what’s next.

“My morning routine is: get up, get dressed, get in the car, get my daughter to school, go to a workout class, get home, shower, moisturize,” rattles off the star, who also happens to be a new spokeswoman for beauty staple Vaseline Spray & Go.

Before the Winnipeg native hits the Toronto stage this month in the musical Company, she dishes on five of her favourite ways to save time.

In my 20s, I would go to sleep with my makeup on, but I eventually realized that it catches up to you. In time, you’re going to get acne, you’re going to have to moisturize more during the day and you’re going to have to spend an extra 10 minutes chiseling it off in the morning! So my beauty routine is simple: Get it off, that’s the key.

If I have a script due, I tend to wear what I call my “writer’s uniform." I pull on leggings and one of my husband’s big shirts. I think I look like a 1950s, coquette-ish star, but in reality, I look a tiny bit homeless. Still, it’s good for schlepping around! I’ve also discovered a very good time-saving tip if I’m going shopping. Even if I don’t have four events coming up, if I find four outfits that I like, I buy them. Nobody likes to try on new clothes. It’s like fitting a tuba into a guitar case! But if something fits or feels good, I immediately send it to the alterations to get hemmed. That way, if I have a last-minute event, it’s ready. The first thing we think is, “What do I wear?” Right?

I find that I’m taking jobs that correspond with my daughter’s lifestyle. For example, when the musical starts in Toronto, it’s because she’s on summer vacation. I think that’s the best way to save time to spend with her. We’ve been to the aquarium here, and we’ll go back again this summer. It’s so great.

I really like to cook. I like to experiment and try new things, because the worst thing that could happen is everyone will hate it. Here’s my trick: Take a chicken breast, put it in a Ziploc bag, add herbs and seal it. Then, take a mallet or a frying pan and pound it really flat. Heat up a tiny bit of olive oil in a skillet and put a tiny bit of butter to brown it. Cook one side, flip it, cook the other side, add a bit of lemon and you’ve got the most delicious meal. When my husband first tried it, he said, “What the?!” I said, “That’s right!” He cut it into thin strips, put it on arugula and added some shaved parmesan as well.

I’m learning to play the guitar. I started taking guitar lessons because I thought it would be fun to learn something new. I’ve never played an instrument. I read music but I don’t play. Isn’t it crazy? My daughter practices piano in the morning. So her rule is, “I’ll practice if you practice.” You can’t lie to a child, you just can’t, ever. So everyday she’ll come home and say, “Did you practice?” And I’ll say yes, only if I have! Sometimes I think, “Ah! She’s going to nail me.” So I’ll go practice. There just isn’t a way around it. Even with writing, the only way I can get through a scene, even a scene I hate, is to write it. I tell myself to get through it, then you can get to the fun stuff where people are making out.

Don't miss a beat with HELLO! Canada's Daily Hits newsletter, your daily dose of royal and celebrity news, fashion, weddings and more. CLICK HERE to sign up for free!