If you’ve walked down the diaper aisle lately, you just might have seen a familiar smile.
Gabriel Nicholson, a four-year-old Robbinsville resident, is the newest face of Pull-Ups, appearing on packaging and promotional material all across the country.
This isn’t Gabe’s first foray into photo shoots, said his mom, Jaleesa Graham—he previously modeled for the children’s clothing brand Carter’s as a baby. So when Graham received an email about an open call audition for Pull-Ups last January, she decided to take Gabe.
There were a lot of kids there, she said, but the wait was pleasant—Gabe and the other children kept themselves occupied with bubbles and other toys before they were called in.
“The audition itself was very quick,” Graham said. “Gabe went in the room, took a few quick pictures and got to chat and talk with the casting team about whatever he wanted to say. They were very nice, and we were done.”
Graham got a callback email for Gabe a few days later, and they repeated the process.
“This time, there were less children,” she said. “Gabe got to blow bubbles and take a few quick pictures. Gabe has a great personality. He was talking to the casting team, and he was having fun.”
A week later, Graham got good news—Gabe was chosen for the final photoshoot. He was one of four toddlers chosen for the shoot, and Graham said they were treated like “superstars.” There was a full play section for the kids, as well as breakfast, snacks and drinks for everyone.
Gabe then went into “hair and makeup” and was dressed in a blue T-shirt and Pull-Up. The kids were assigned a wrangler, who keeps them happy and laughing on set.
“Gabe’s wrangler had bubbles, light up toys, a ball, a bunch of stuff—he basically got to play on set, and they took pictures while he played,” Graham said. “He got to do fun superhero poses, he got to run and basically do everything a toddler does, and they just took pictures.”
Of the four toddlers who participated in the shoot, Gabe was the one chosen to appear on Pull-Ups packaging and other materials—but it took awhile before the family found out. Graham said each child is paid for the shoot no matter what. The one who appears on the packaging, though, also gets a usage payment.
“It was so hard to wait,” Graham said. “I kept praying and hoping that he would be picked. One day his usage check came and that meant my baby would be the Pull-Ups baby. I was so happy! I called my family and friends, and everyone was so excited.”
Graham was told the final product would be in stores sometime this year.
“I literally was checking all the time since Jan. 1,” she said. “My family and friends were looking also.”
It finally happened in March. Graham was shopping online when she saw Gabe’s picture. She showed her family and friends and then Gabe and his eight-year-old brother, Nick.
“We did a happy dance,” she said. “That night we went to Walmart and the Pull-Ups were there. We took a ton of pictures and Gabe told almost everyone in the store, ‘Look that’s me.’ Strangers were so happy for him, high-fiving him. It was so nice.”
Graham bought a bunch of boxes and donated the Pull-Ups inside, since Gabe and Nick don’t need them. She kept the packaging, of course.
“My family members always send me pictures everytime they see the Pull-Ups in stores, and it’s still pretty surreal when I go in a store and I see Gabe,” she said. “I always have to tell someone ‘that’s my son.’”
Gabe will be five years old this August. Graham said he is obsessed with fire trucks and loves visiting the Robbinsville Fire Department.
“Together, Gabe and Nick keep me pretty busy,” Graham said.
Graham adopted Gabe in April of 2019, three years after he was placed with her as a foster when he was six months old. Graham, Gabe and Nick celebrated the one-year anniversary of Gabe’s adoption last month with a cake in quarantine.
“I’m so proud of Gabe, he is such a special boy, and I’m glad God put him in my life,” Graham said. “He has such a bright future, and I’m so glad that I was chosen to be his forever family.”