By Laurie Merrill
GCU News Bureau
A Grand Canyon University counselor’s 2-year-old son is this week’s social media darling.
A photo of Ashley Gill’s toddler — dressed as the perfect mini-me of “The Office” character Dwight Schrute — went viral on the internet and in news stories this week.
“We are having fun with this,” said Ashley, a Doctoral Student Services counselor for nearly five years. “You never expect your little 2-year-old to make national news.”
All it took was a clever Halloween costume, a well-tagged Instagram — and a case of mistaken identity.
Ashley and her husband, Andrew, are avid fans of NBC’s “The Office,” so it was a no-brainer to dress their son, Lincoln, as one of the now canceled show’s characters for Halloween.
“I figured I’d better do it this year because next year he might not let us,” she said.
The Schrute costume was transformative: Little Lincoln looked like Little Dwight with glasses, hair parted down the middle and in yellow shirt, khaki pants, tie and loafers.
Ashley put one of Schrute’s more memorable lines on a propped-up board: “How would I describe myself? Three words. Hard-working. Alpha male. Jackhammer. Merciless. Insatiable.”
The topper? A beet that a Lincoln clenches in his hand. Ashley had to go to Sprouts to pick up the vegetable as the costume’s final touch because Schrute comes from a family of beet farmers.
She took the now famous picture and posted it on Instagram.
“I decided to tag a couple of the actors from the show,” Ashley said.
Actress Jenna Fischer, who played Pam Beesley the receptionist, was so tickled that she tweeted the picture and a hearty “Happy Halloween” to her 460,000 Twitter followers Monday morning.
This led to 130,000 “likes” as well as a case of mistaken identity. Dozens of media outlets carried the story, including the Huffington Post, Yahoo, Time and Buzzfeed, and organizations from Kansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Kansas. However, several misidentified Lincoln as Fischer’s daughter.
“He doesn’t even look like a girl!” Ashley said.
Fischer subsequently tweeted: “Need to clear this up: This is not my kid. Credit goes to @ashleyanngill for the cutest little Dwight I’ve ever seen. Seriously, best ever!”
Ashley’s phone has been buzzing nonstop. “Every two seconds my phone lights up with Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, email and text notifications,” she said.
The Gills, who live in Chandler, also have been interviewed by local television stations.
Next year, Dwight will have a little brother, which will add a challenge to Halloween costume creating.
“I don’t think I can top myself,” Ashley said. “I will have to incorporate the new baby, maybe make the brothers a themed costume.”
Contact Laurie Merrill at (602) 639-6511 or firstname.lastname@example.org.