The Mickey Mouse Club’s Jennifer McGill opens up about pivoting from life as a Mouseketeer, to being a solo artist, and now loving her career as a vocal coach…all on the Second Act Success Podcast! Listen in as Jennifer talks about her life as a child star on Disney Channel and her famous Mickey Mouse Club cast members like Justin Timberlake, Ryan Gosling, Joey Fatone, and Keri Russell. She talks about her journey after the show, her solo album Unbreakable, and her current mission coaching independent singers on how to make it in the music industry. Jennifer is incredible and has so much advice and wisdom to share about thriving during life’s ups and downs. Interviewing Jennifer was a trip down memory lane and will be such a blast for any fan of the Mickey Mouse Club. Don’t miss Jennifer McGill on Second Act Success Podcast.
CONNECT with Jennifer McGill:
Website – www.jennifermcgill.com
Instagram – @thejennifermcgill
SHOW NOTES FOR THIS EPISODE:
0:00 – Jennifer quote about reinventing yourself
01:58 – Being in show business for almost 40 years
02:28 – Discovering talent in preschool
03:23 – Love for live shows and pageants
05:22 – Auditioning for Mickey Mouse Club
06:58 – Show business doesn’t get stale
08:26 – Music industry has changed
10:21 – Kids being young and raw with talent when Mickey Mouse Club started
11:31 – Making the independent Unbreakable album and all of the roles she played
12:50 – Unbreakable album
14:30 – Not fitting into the bubblegum pop mold when she was trying to be a solo artist after the Mickey Mouse Club
16:42 – Thankful her family kept her grounded
18:21 – Moving from Texas to Florida for Mickey Mouse Club
20:11 – School and schedule of shooting Mickey Mouse Club
21:04 – Life in a “fishbowl” while on the Mickey Mouse Club and dealing with fans
23:31 – Her personality in the cast of the Mickey Mouse Club
27:28 – Relationships with Mickey Mouse Club castmates and losing former castmate Tiffani Hale last year
30:06 – Meeting fans today
32:49 – Speaking with her fans is her ministry.
32:56 – Chase Hampton and Jennifer were the emotional Mouseketeers
33:43 – Hoping Mickey Mouse Club will be on Disney+ soon
34:15 – How it was when the newer younger cast members joined the show a few years in
34:47 – Always in the Club Foundation and raising money for charities
35:28 – Mickey Mouse Club cast members she keeps in touch with
37:50 – Living in Nashville
38:40 – Her style of music
39:46 – Working at an artist development company coaching aspiring artists
45:15 – Her work today is more rewarding than making her last album
46:00 – Unbreakable album meaning, songs, etc
48:50 – Being a nerd when she was young
49:50 – why she would never beat Keri Russell out for a role on Mickey Mouse Club
51:14 – Comforting Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling when the fate of the Mickey Mouse Club was unknown
52:24 – Preparing for the show to be canceled and getting accepted to New York University
53:26 – Prom with Joey Fatone and N’SYNC
54:33 – Going on tour with JC Chasez
55:12 – Life after Mickey Mouse Club got canceled. Going to New York City for college and trying for Broadway.
56:26 – Feeling like she was “washed up” at 20, when other 20 year olds were just figuring life out
57:14 – Writing a book, merchandise line, etc
57:32 – Items she sells on her website, vocal lessons, etc
58:45 – Her relationship with God
59:28 – Losing her mother and finding God
01:04:36 – Giving back to her fans
01:06:20 – Challenging herself to write a book
01:07:14 – Advice for people starting a second act
01:09:28 – Connect with Jennifer McGill
Second Act Success Podcast
Season 1 -Episode #11 - Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer to Vocal Coach
Guest: Jennifer McGill
Transcription (*created by Descript and may not be perfectly accurate)
[00:00:00] Jennifer McGill: You have to be extremely honest with yourself in what you want. People pleasers like me undervalue themselves when they are deciding to change careers and go find a job there's all these things that you think have to be a certain way, but what brings you joy? What makes your life easier or what makes enough space for you to be the human that you want to be as well?
[00:00:28] Shannon: Are you at a crossroads in your career or in life? Well, don't worry because life's next chapter is waiting. This is the Second Act Success Podcast. I am your host Shannon Russell.
I'm a television producer, turned boy mom, turned business owner, podcaster, and career coach. If you are looking to start a new career or begin a fresh chapter in life, then get ready to be inspired with stories of women who have done just [00:01:00] that. We will share advice and offer steps you can take to help figure out what your true calling in life really is.
It is time to shine. So let's turn the page and get started.
Welcome to Second Act Success.
Do you remember the Mickey Mouse Club? Today, I am sitting down with Jennifer McGill who spent seven seasons performing on the new Mickey Mouse Club. She shares stories of the ups and downs of being a child star on this iconic Disney show. Jennifer has gone on to be an inspirational pop recording artist and a songwriter. She recently produced her own independent album, Unbreakable. Jennifer now coaches aspiring artists on how to make it in today's music industry. Let's listen in on my conversation with Jennifer McGill.
[00:01:52] Shannon Russell: Jennifer McGill, I'm so honored to have you on the podcast. Welcome!
[00:01:58] Jennifer McGill: Thank you. So much. [00:02:00] I'm very excited to be here. You are fabulous.
[00:02:02] Shannon Russell: Thank you. So we have so much to talk about, your path of success has just continued since you were little, but let's go back to the beginning. 30 years in showbiz now, is that right?
[00:02:13] Jennifer McGill: I feel like it's almost 35 now. I've been on stage. For, you know, close to 40 years.
[00:02:21] Shannon Russell: Wow. So talk to me about the beginning. So you're a little girl. When did you get into performing? I know you were into pageants.
[00:02:28] Jennifer McGill: It's so crazy because I, I, you know, I'm from a small town and in this small town, there was this little church preschool group called Kinder Kraft. And I. allegedly memorized the storybook version of the Wizard Of Oz. And my teachers found out and had me recite it to my whole pre-K class. And then somebody decided to do the show where I'm Dorothy and my Toto was a puppet koala bear, I [00:03:00] was just this itty bitty kid. In the star of some pre-K show in my church fellowship hall. So from then on it just kind of never changed I was always comfortable being front and center and doing a show, you know, it just seemed like, well, that, that turned into my soccer. My mind did inform me that young that This is probably what I'm into for the rest of my life.
I love live shows. But it's morphed now into production. I know we have that in common, but, yeah, after that church show, I guess I was like seven when I decided, Hey, I want one of those crowns like I saw on the Miss Texas Pageant tonight, mom, how do we do that? And she's like, well, I'll ask her dance teacher cause I don't know, we didn't have like a career plan. And so my mother figured out from my dance teacher, that there were these competitions you can sign up for and she's going to need a dress and she's going to need a talent and my mother [00:04:00] nine times out of 10 made my dresses. You know, she was a fabulous glue gunner as well as a seamstress. That's where I developed my love for rhinestones and sequence.
[00:04:10] Shannon Russell: course.
[00:04:11] Jennifer McGill: I gIue-gunned everything. It was kind of our thing it's it was, it was what we loved to do together, people ask me if my mother was sort of like a mamager and I never saw her that way because I was driving the ship. If I hadn't wanted to do it, I would have thrown a tantrum and it would have been done, you know, but that was not the case.
One of my favorite things about that time in pageantry was absolutely not the pageantry. I like to get out there and just sing big and like when the talent portion, that was my thing. But every time I would sing and I would breathe in from the stage, I knew where my mom was sitting because I would hear her breathe in with me. It was more about that kind of thing, like traveling and just kind of seeing, can I win again? Cause I did win a lot and I really got hooked on live stage performance. [00:05:00] Cause I liked to be a surprise. I was just this tiny long-haired little, little girl out there. Super cute. And then I'd open my mouth and they're like, oh my gosh, like who is this? What is this siren coming out of this, itty bitty thing. And then of course I would win because they're like, she sings all these high notes, I guess we need to give her the trophy. And so I enjoyed that very much.
It was just happenstance that my last pageant, when I was 10, there was a talent agent who was one of the judges, and on a handshake with my mother, she represented me for the Mickey Mouse Club audition.
I remember our yellow phone that was in the kitchen, on the wall, , it, it rang and my mother was on the phone and she was telling me what was going on. And I know that we were freaking out like, you got, you got the job, you know? It's kind of that first brush with the next level of kids who do this, but I've always felt comfort in collaborative projects where people are like me. I [00:06:00] got very well acclimated to that type of work, and I've been a workaholic ever since. It's something that I've always enjoyed. If the Disney channel called and asked me to do any kind of a collaborative work, I would be like, of course. Because it's just always something that I think is so much fun to do. That's why I never really left the business because it just seems like I'm best used in that kind of format. It's just that kind of like with the whole second act thing, you do reinvent yourself. And this is something that maybe people don't know about celebrities, like the, the upper echelon, like celebrity famous people. They have to keep reinventing themselves too. There are plenty of second acts and third acts and fourth acts in a famous person's life. That's very common for anybody, working their way up through their career. And you know, of course in recent years possibly facing a career change.
in, In show [00:07:00] business, the beauty for me is that there are so many different ways to work in this business. And I've worked in a lot of different capacities and all of them I've pretty much been delighted with and learn something new and more interesting or different, and I think that's, what's kept me in it so long is because it hasn't gotten stale. It's always been evolving for me.
[00:07:20] Shannon Russell: Because you're an artist, right. And so artists want to keep learning more and you want to keep changing what you're doing in different ways. So that's just a testament to you. I think.
[00:07:30] Jennifer McGill: Well, and I think that it's the ones who do want to learn and don't expect that they know everything, probably do learn more and do have a better reputation in the business. but I try to balance knowing that I'm on top of my game, but also being very humble and open to that collaborative process of like, I don't know, everything. Maybe there's a better way to do this. Maybe there's a better idea? F or better or for worse that that's how I like to operate. I believe that it has served my [00:08:00] reputation well, that that I'm known for being excellent and for being good at whatever I choose to stick with, but I'm still learning, you know, even, even now I think that's, what's again, keeping it fresh.
[00:08:11] Shannon Russell: And the industry is changing so much, that you've got to change with it. Right. You just have to figure out, okay, well, I like to sing, maybe I'll try doing this or I'm going to write, or, I mean, there's just so many things that are at your disposal. So it's finding what fits you.
[00:08:26] Jennifer McGill: That's right. And really, unfortunately if you're a recording artists, it is not necessarily about the song anymore, you know, or your talent, which is a hard pill to swallow. It used to be more about, Hey, I'm a singer or I'm a musician, I'm the best at what I do, so you should, you should back me. Right. but now, because there are so many ways that artists can. market themselves or yeah, you got to have a gimmick or maybe, [00:09:00] digitally, we can fix your voice. You just need to look a certain way, or have certain connections. Business is business and we can't be mad at you know, people finding new ways to market or to, you know, make art. Look, I'm a fan of CGI. I'm a fan of Jurassic Park changing the game. That doesn't mean I don't like to go back and watch some really great claymation movies from back in the day. You know,
[00:09:24] Shannon Russell: true. Yep.
[00:09:25] Jennifer McGill: There's some cool, you know, raw, oh my gosh, they had to do this frame by frame thing. But you know what? CGI has the same. Like they had to do it frame by frame. It's just a different kind of artistry. So I've found out how to continue to fall in love with, with being a musician or being an artist or what that looks like in the world. It's just different parameters, I have found that artists, especially independent artists , have to invest more in their digital footprint and playing the game of analytics and building your brand and building your numbers. than putting out a bunch of songs. It's been [00:10:00] really interesting to see how that's done, you know, because the work is still there. It's just shifted away from, you have to create so much music and let's say audio and visual. it's less about that beginning song. It's more about all that comes to support and promote that one vehicle, you know, that song.
Here's the thing. Just like on the new Mickey Mouse Club, when we first got into the set of that, we were raw kids who, some of us had some good career resumes, but I certainly didn't. And we were chosen because we were relatable because we would get the job done, but we were going to grow into it. Right. when some of the now famous Mouseketeers arrived in the later season, let's say even like season six, where a lot of our bigger well-known celebrities of today, got their start on the show. They were better polished than I was when I arrived, six years before. And [00:11:00] I feel the same way about independent artists today, they have to be better and more independent and more motivated to get the job done and to build their team and to do it kind of like learn as you go. There's so much more that they have to do themselves than what someone like me would have had to do if I had gotten a record deal at 20.
[00:11:21] Shannon Russell: Right, It's like, you can, you're a singer, you're an artist, but now you have to learn social media and you have to learn building the website. It's like, yeah, it's just a lot more moving pieces.
[00:11:31] Jennifer McGill: That's what I had to do with the Unbreakable album. I remember I met with one of my dear Canadian friends who is also in promotions. and stuff. At the time when we were promoting that album, she asked, so, you know, how many are on your team? And I said, what do you mean? She said, well, you know, like all the graphic design and the, all the video editing and the audio production and all the calendaring and the, I don't know all the things that I see online. [00:12:00] And I'm like, it's me.
[00:12:01] Shannon Russell: Yeah.
[00:12:03] Jennifer McGill: I'm doing the graphic design. And I'm doing the video editing, and I had a partner, I had an executive producer, you know, and there was a lot of work that she was doing as well, but it's like, between vocal comping, and of course writing the songs and then figuring out like video stuff. I did not edit the Unbreakable video, we hired a videographer, who's amazing. But so much of the promotional in that digital stuff, I just was constantly, you know, generating that. But the fact that I can just kind of like, you know, burp out a really nice graphic, in an emergency is because of all of that discipline that I had to figure out on how to do that job well enough to make it look good and learn.
[00:12:43] Shannon Russell: Do you feel like it brought you a little closer to the project, to the album because you were so invested from all these different angles?
[00:12:50] Jennifer McGill: I really think that because I got to co-write all of the original songs on the album, that was probably the most endearing part because I had [00:13:00] never been in a project like that. The original compilation and even the Hanging On For Dear Life cover I co-produced that, and I had a vision for that song, and it was absolutely realized. And even down to the very end where you think the song may be done, but it kind of gives you one more little, you know, wave of stuff, that was for the fans. Just trying to think about like, what would they want if, if we did the grownup, now I know what these words mean. Everything that I wanted to do in that song was realized that was huge for me to have that much control over the album. And that's why I do see so much pro in being an independent artist. With a record label, you can't ever assume that you're going to have a say in a lot of stuff. When I did step into that world for a while, I do see how it, wasn't probably going to be my cup of tea, a nytime past 20.
[00:13:59] Shannon Russell: Yeah, [00:14:00] because then you were growing into it and you knew what you wanted to do. And that's where the labels are going to say, oh, you know what we got to, they don't want you to know what you want to do. They want to control it.
[00:14:11] Jennifer McGill: They definitely need to make their money and they definitely want to fill I mean, usually this is just a big, big overview. But they're either trying to copy what's already worked or they're trying to fill in a gap where someone isn't doing something, right. Like, oh, we don't have someone like that. Let's, let's put this out cause it's different, . When I was doing the rounds of, of the record deal kind of thing, right at the end of college, I hit it at a time where bubblegum pop was really exploding and I didn't fit into those molds. There was nothing about me besides my little face that said anything, bubblegum pop about me. I mean, I was taller. Like a more athletic, bigger build and my voice was more mature. And what I had to say was more mature. [00:15:00] And I wasn't really into not wearing a lot of clothing. And so nothing about me personally, made sense really with bubblegum pop, except I loved their songs. I loved what I was hearing, but it wasn't necessarily something that made me feel alive as an artist, and so, you know, I just really had that, that time of mourning for, gosh, I just want to be Whitney Houston. Why can't someone just let me be, you know, Whitney Houston or Alana's Morissette somewhere in between. That would be lovely. Let's just figure that out. You know, It just wasn't the moment. I kinda missed my window, right. But I just don't really feel now that I've looked back enough. I don't really think that my, my purpose was to be a, celebrity pop artist. Healthwise, I wouldn't have really done well. I don't think that I would have maybe even made it out alive because I was such a people pleaser that I would have taken any pill or done any procedure or dated anybody they wanted me to date. I would have played the [00:16:00] game to get famous because all I wanted to do was sing on a stage. Just like the pageants. I wasn't really interested in the pageantry. I just wanted to have the opportunity for a gagillion people to enjoy me singing. when I ha When I let that. go, I had to close the chapter on, wanting to follow in the footsteps of my celebrity, Mouseketeer brothers and sisters. I had to let that go because it didn't look like it was going to be my destiny.
[00:16:25] Shannon Russell: You can probably look back now and kind of maybe be a little happy that it didn't happen when you see kind of others going down roads that didn't work well for them either. You know? And so maybe it's about finding your time to come out as the artists that you want to be.
[00:16:42] Jennifer McGill: Right. I'm very grateful to have learned from other people's experiences for sure. You never want lives to unfold in that way, but you do also see every aspect of being part of the show of show business, if you're in that realm [00:17:00] of your career. There is a sacrifice, you know, there's sacrifices in every career, of course, but there is something very particular about when you're on display in your career. People a ttach themselves emotionally to you differently, and it can be difficult to navigate your personal life with your professional life. If you feel like you are influencing so many other other lives. I can't imagine a stress like that. And I know now that that's just not for me.
I believe it's always about your team and your team includes your family. You know, it includes the people that you let into your circle I do look at some of my brothers and sisters, , from the show and I see how even today they're continuing to gain back more of their own power and their own sense of identity, and they're making it work for them, you know? And I think that is really the [00:18:00] payoff of surviving the business for as long as we have.
[00:18:05] Shannon Russell: And you've gone through so much together. Let's go back a little bit to you getting the call. You're going to be on this TV show and you don't know how big it's going to be but you're going to be on the new Mickey Mouse Club. So now you're in Texas. Does your whole family moved to Florida?
[00:18:21] Jennifer McGill: There were four of us and my mom and dad, and then me and my little brother, and we had built our forever home in Texas and then here I come being talented and getting job. Messing up the little life that we had, you know? So in the very beginning, we shot the pilot over the winter and I think we went back home for the holidays. And I want to say we came right back after that and started season one. And I think it was around then that we were making the plan to sell that house and to move to, to [00:19:00] Florida to start a new life as a family. So I really have to commend the family, mostly my parents.
[00:19:08] Shannon Russell: Yeah.
[00:19:09] Jennifer McGill: They really had the foresight to keep us together. I had about two years of just like constant, just on location education. Around the end of middle school was when I was integrated back into local, actual physical school. That's where I made my first local friends at the, at one of the local middle schools. And a lot of us continued to the high school, which was a visual and performing arts magnet high school. So then I had like the best of the best thespians and production team around me and they were incredible. So I was just living the dream of like learning from and hanging out with and working with professional television kids and exceptional theatrical kids. all, Some of them are now celebrities like Joey Fatone was in my, was in my troop. [00:20:00] Um, Luis Fonsi was in my thespian troop.
[00:20:05] Shannon Russell: Oh my gosh. How cool is that? So you were able to go to school while shooting the show.
[00:20:11] Jennifer McGill: Yes. After middle school really is when the schedule changed, it was kind of like they had us year round for a little bit because we were filming so much in the beginning. I think they tried to shoot as much in the summertime as they could, because you had more crowds at MGM Studios at that point. Some of us would rehearse some things and some of us would film some things. And everybody's day was different.
[00:20:37] Shannon Russell: Since I was such a huge fan of the show for all those years, I remember going to Disney and every time we would go, you wouldn't be shooting and I would be crushed, but I was able to walk through at MGM Studios and remember that little part that you could walk over and see your, your stage.
Oh my God. That was the best. I can still see it. So clearly in my head right now of like walking there. And I don't even think anyone was [00:21:00] on set, but just seeing the set that I watched every day was just like a dream.
[00:21:04] Jennifer McGill: I can appreciate that because it's something I would've wanted had I been visiting and let's say we weren't there. I still want to see where everybody was doing their thing. And I wrote my college application essay. I called it The Fishbowl because that's exactly what we were doing. Like we would be blocking something or rehearsing something and, you know, we'd see a crowd upstairs and then, you know, we'd wave, or we're in the recording studio, which was my favorite place to be. You know, belting out some note or I'm concentrating and then you like, see a flash. And you're like, Oh, yes. Hello, all these people who are literally in the middle of my moment, you know, like, oh, hi, you know? We were constantly on and that's, I guess why I can appreciate from a distance what some of, you know, the celebrity lifestyle could feel like, because [00:22:00] there wasn't necessarily ever a place to super-duper hide or you had to kind of switch in a heartbeat to here's here's a fan and they're freaking out and you need to take care of them, you know? There were fans that would camp out, like hang out at the apartment complex where a lot of the Mouseketeers stayed. And as we all got older and were like, full-blown teenagers, you know, I can imagine how complicated that was, especially for like the parents and the guardians.
[00:22:27] Shannon Russell: Oh, yeah.
[00:22:28] Jennifer McGill: Wanting to figure out like, you know, what do I do with my teen Mouseketeer boy right now? Like, there's literally a gaggle
[00:22:35] Shannon Russell: Of girls.
[00:22:36] Jennifer McGill: girls. like by the pool.
[00:22:38] Shannon Russell: I bet. At least you had your family, you had a house. So you went home, you weren't living that kind of life. You were going back home every night.
[00:22:46] Jennifer McGill: I was very well well-rounded. you know, At the time I was a little jealous, I did feel a little FOMO, because they were living their lives and partying, in some aspect at the apartment complex, [00:23:00] but I know that what they had to sacrifice to, I guess, be in that situation, I don't think I would have wanted to sacrifice. I love my mom dearly, but just to be it just the two of us when I knew that our, you know, my dad and my brother or somewhere else, I mean, that would have felt very difficult. And that's what most of the Mouseketeers had to deal with.
[00:23:17] Shannon Russell: Yeah. Talk to me about the comradery that you all felt like you're walking on as a ten-year-old meaning all these other kids your age for the first time, what was that like? How was that for you to meet everyone?
[00:23:31] Jennifer McGill: My own personal memory, I was more of a, like a fly on the wall. Like I was more focused on the work or kind of observing everyone else from afar. I was not in the middle of everybody. I was not one of the popular kids who easily kind of won everybody over. I won everyone over professionally. Like everybody, knew that I did what I did, but I was so little.[00:24:00] I was very shy and quiet that I was kind of a walking mystery, you know, you know, I kind of like onstage before. It's like, oh, there's just this little kid. And then she's like, you know, then she goes back to being quote unquote weird. But now I call it being the unicorn that I just have always been.
[00:24:19] Shannon Russell: I always remember you having the professional voice. Like you sounded like an adult singing, you didn't have the little kid voice, like you had this ballot of a voice that would come out of you. And I remember that.
[00:24:31] Jennifer McGill: I've watched all this stuff from back in the day. And, now that I'm a vocal coach and a live performance coach, and I work with young people I try to take, take myself out of it for a minute and just kind of look at me as a subject, I'm like, She's very good. She's very good. I don't know how that. happened. My mother was my vocal coach and she was classically trained, but she wasn't a belter, again, it was like the perfect storm of, okay, we're going to give her [00:25:00] enough raw talent to like, make this happen because I wasn't trained, you know, until college to really understand the full spectrum of what my vocal can be. What really impressed me the most upon review of my little life was, the comedic work actually. I was never trained to be funny except on the show, because there's so much comedic timing that you are directed to do. I was like a sponge and I did it and I, and I love it, you know, and I really think I'm way more pleasant and funny today because of what I learned on the show.
[00:25:38] Shannon Russell: Ah,
[00:25:39] Jennifer McGill: I really took to It And I w I was just a delightful, comedic actress. I really was. And I held my own in the dancing, you know, I've always pushed myself. I've always tried to choose the one that pushes me, I guess. the show really? built that kind of standard in me because I was absolutely [00:26:00] not the best dancer, but no one else was having more fun than I was. But with singing, I never really had to fake it till I make it. It was like my little superpower, my care bear stare. If you will,
[00:26:10] Shannon Russell: trust me, I know all of your castmates. I could remember, I'm like super fan here, but I remember you just having this, this voice that just sit out. So, and you still do, but you know, it's just, I remember that being your same age at the time and being like, wow, I can't sing like that. She's amazing,
[00:26:28] Jennifer McGill: My favorite quote. When I used to talk about my, my young life and what I was doing around 13 years old, they looked at me for a second and they said, I think I was picking my nose and rubbing boogers on the wallpaper when I was 13. That's amazing. That is amazing. Like that in and of itself is all that needed to be said to make me feel like I was doing the most. Like I was really, you know, doing it.
[00:26:57] Shannon: I want to talk a little bit about your friendships that you [00:27:00] developed over the years. A lot of you reunited at 90s Con this year, which was incredible to see. Right before that. Tiffany Hill passed away. She was one of the original cast members with you. With Tiffany's passing. I'm sure it was a complete shock to everyone. Was it nice to at least be altogether reunited at 90s Con kind of to celebrate her in a way?
[00:27:28] Jennifer McGill: I want to say that it helps focus some of our talks, it helps us focus on our causes that we raise money for. But I believe that as a group ever since MMC 30 happened, I think that those of us who were present for that have, kind of dusted off that connection to those of us who hadn't been in the LA group or the New York group and who hadn't lived close to each other for a while. [00:28:00] It was this very, redefinition of the family that we are, and I've mulled this over for years because I used to struggle so much with why do I feel like we're all brothers and sisters, but some people in the past really did just feel like it was a job, you know, which is perfectly fine, you know? It was more of the mystery of why do I feel this way? Right? And it's because, you know, I've watched enough home videos now that I see that we were trained in the beginning to act like a family for better or for worse, because it was chaos, chaos. Well, many children speaking at once all the time. I can't imagine that our stage managers did not take a bottle of ibuprofen when they got home every night, because we were chaos. It was like just this big old family with the parents all up in the business. And the siblings were all [00:29:00] up in the school. My mother was helping to teach people because she was a teacher and she was helping in the classroom. I'm sure for free, like just teaching people. Right. And we were all just trained to be this family. And as the show got more developed and we got newer cast members that entry-level perception was not taught it, it did change. But the beauty of all of that is that once we hit Facebook, and our fans started re-emerging in this new way that we could connect with them. We got older and people started having children and really, you know, looked back on their own childhood and then MMC 30 happens. And it's just this, okay, yeah, we are, we are always going to be connected in some like magical, lovely, thread of, compassion and [00:30:00] care for each other that we don't have to explain, and we saw that when we were all back together again. What I have really seen, like from 90s Con, cause I got to talk more one-on-one with a lot of fans who showed up, for me, it's now an extension of ministry because a lot of the women who come to me, talk about how, the way I was on the show, help them feel like there was someone out there on television who was like them.
[00:30:30] Shannon Russell: I can see that. Yeah.
[00:30:31] Jennifer McGill: yeah, like either it's the girl next door, or, you know, I'm a little goofy, or it was maybe the way I looked the way I was shaped, but people started coming out of the woodwork and telling me, you really, like, I really connected to you. And it helped me in my life when I was young to feel not so alone. I always have to keep myself from crying with stuff like that, because at the time I was really my own worst bully. I didn't think I was [00:31:00] incredibly awesome as much as the fans did and to kind of come back around as adults and talk about it. I say, you know what, that's why I was made the way that I was made. I was just meant for different things, I've never had children. I've never wanted to have children. And a lot of people would say, well, you know, what are you going to leave behind? You know, if you're not doing that. And I say, listen, I feel like the legacy I have left is so much more spiritual. The fact that I've helped people and that I helped them when I didn't even feel good about myself. And I was being used to lift other people up. That is all I need to leave behind. and I, of course I train other people's kids. So I have a bunch of like, you know, career kids that I love and nurture and all of that, but it's like, I'm so fulfilled if I left tomorrow. It's okay. And it's because of the show and because of the people on the other side of the television did in, in response to that show, it's [00:32:00] because of you guys. It worked out for me and that I feel so, useful. And so, helpful to the world.
[00:32:10] Shannon Russell: It must have made you feel so great to talk to the fans one-on-one like that.
[00:32:14] Jennifer McGill: Yeah, because honestly, my, my core group of fans are women who struggle with identity and if I can help point them in that direction, like help them navigate those roads of like, unsureness, then gosh, what other noble cause can I devote myself to there to really try to lift someone up and help them feel more like they're on purpose and that they have a purpose. Of course everybody's valuable and I just feel like people don't believe it, you know, that they are. So, yes, speaking one-on-one to people is very, very fulfilling to me because it's so, it's so all about ministry. Chase and I talk about this a lot, because I think we [00:33:00] are kind of more of the emotional Mouseketeers.
[00:33:03] Shannon Russell: and Chase?
[00:33:05] Jennifer McGill: Yeah, like we are like brother, sister, and we just love everyone with like glassy eyes and all that. Very emotional and very loving about everybody. We talk about that from time to time. And I said, I know that it has different words, like different vocabulary, but this is, has become a minute. It just has like, maybe it's a different term for some people, but that's what we do. We just want to make everyone feel loved. We want to love everyone. We want to love each other. And we want to love, you know, reminiscing about the show and bringing it to life, hopefully for new generations someday.
[00:33:40] Shannon Russell: Keep looking for it to be on Disney + it's not on there yet.
[00:33:43] Jennifer McGill: I want to believe that it's going to happen, you know, maybe it's licensing the music again, because there was no digital law back in the day. That could be it. It deserves to be, commemorated and, mortalized on streaming because we were the number one [00:34:00] show for years. We were the foundation of Disney MGM Studios.
[00:34:04] Shannon Russell: I remember being so upset when it went off the air. That was my childhood. And, you know, we could but I, yeah, it was very, very upsetting as a fan for it to go off, even when, even when the newer cast members came on, I remember being very defensive being like, why do we don't need new new cast members?
[00:34:21] Jennifer McGill: Who are these children
[00:34:22] Shannon Russell: are these children?
[00:34:24] Jennifer McGill: I was so much taller than all those kids, except for maybe Nikki, but they were, all of them were so tiny when they first got on this.
[00:34:31] Shannon Russell: Just to see the good that you all did back in the day, just being on camera and now to know that you're doing good, just talking to your fans again and being one-on-one and able to, coach people now. you You're all able to serve in a different way and entertain.
[00:34:47] Jennifer McGill: Yeah. And I think for every Mouseketeer who has that desire, I think that the Always In The Club Foundation is providing those opportunities. So I could not be more grateful to [00:35:00] Dale and Chase and Lisa Cannata for heading up that venture, and I've made more new friends actually, working through those events, with the people that they've brought into the company to help with things. And so,
[00:35:12] Shannon Russell: wonderful.
[00:35:13] Jennifer McGill: Yeah, I mean, really the sky's the limit over time. I mean, we never have to stop talking about the show or showing up to, you know, make money for causes and to fundraise. Like we never have to stop doing that. I mean, it's kind of awesome. I hope we never do.
[00:35:27] Shannon Russell: So who are you still in touch with?
[00:35:29] Jennifer McGill: So Lindsey and Deedee and Milyn, DeeDee and Milyn are super besties. DeeDee I had a really beautiful talk with when we were at 90s Con. Lindsay and I, you know, we, we gab, and I mean, Dale, I check in with, and of course, Chase.
[00:35:46] Shannon Russell: Oh,
[00:35:47] Jennifer McGill: There's never any time that's past when you're with Damon. So there's just that, like, it doesn't matter if we have, if he doesn't remember the details of my life, it doesn't matter. You know, Brandy and I reconnected, We had never had [00:36:00] an adult conversation. I hadn't gotten to talk with her as a, as a full grown human. So that was pretty cool.
[00:36:06] Shannon Russell: Brandy was one of my favorites. I used to wear the black hat like she wore.
[00:36:09] Jennifer McGill: Brandy with her fabulous style, she was certainly an icon on the show, as well as Tiffany. You probably know one thing about Tiffany's passing is that. It provided some artistic inspiration for some commemorative posters that were made that, showcased her combat boot style, that she made super popular from the show. And honestly, if I could walk around in combat boots and like leggings and a flowy shirt, she rocked that mini skirt with the biker shorts underneath and the little nests and I'm just like, ah, so fabulous in. Tasha and I went to high school together, so we stayed in touch for a little bit through there. And like the Nashville group, you know, in recent years,
[00:36:53] Shannon Russell: who's in Nashville with you now is anyone?
[00:36:56] Jennifer McGill: I've been around Tony Lucca and Jason Carson, who [00:37:00] was Blaine on the Mickey Mouse Club and then Jason Minor lives here. Sometimes I get to see Justin Timberlake's mom, which has been really sweet. Really, it's just been the reconnecting at the events. We got together the first event, when Tony Lucca was on The Voice. And a lot of us gathered in LA to celebrate the finale, and that's where we kind of started, you know, performing again and, reconnecting. And I remember TMZ was at that event and Dale said, okay, you and Rona stick together and just minimal, minimal words. Don't over-talk. But me and Rona are literally joined at the hip, like, hi, we are just like, hello? Yes, no, no. Yes. Like we just, we didn't give him anything.
[00:37:50] Shannon Russell: How do you like Nashville? Tell me about like the music scene?
[00:37:54] Jennifer McGill: I love Nashville. I've been here for about 11 years now I've lived in enough places that [00:38:00] just aesthetically, I love that there are beautiful patches of trees and there's hills. I love that you can carve out a beautiful little nook for yourself, but still have all the advantages of a big city. All the concerts are going to come here and you know that a lot of musicians live here. So there's this accessibility to professionals, but it's cool to be here on the. Provider side of, I'm also one of those professionals that is that other people can have access to here. , all the boxes are checked to be able to do my, do my work here.
[00:38:40] Shannon Russell: You haven't ventured into country music. So tell me about the music that you're focusing on now, since Unbreakable.
[00:38:48] Jennifer McGill: So with Unbreakable, when it was all said and done, it felt like a throwback to the nineties, which makes sense, because that's how I grew up in that's how my style was formed.[00:39:00] But I label it inspirational pop. And that is definitely due to the Christian influence, you know, the gospel influence that is very prevalent, of course, in Nashville. If you could give me a label and I had to stick to it, probably rock gospel would be the most fun. I don't really, You know, I'm not sure if that's a real thing, but that's probably what I would be as rock gospel.
[00:39:24] Shannon Russell: You can make it, you can make it
[00:39:26] Jennifer McGill: Yeah. The first time I heard Brian McKnight or Mariah Carey or Boys || Men, I was just transformed. So there's this gospel R&B thing that, that just lights up for me when I hear it. My heart was always towards the pop R&B.
[00:39:43] Shannon Russell: Yeah. Yeah. That's what you grew up on.
[00:39:46] Jennifer McGill: I don't have any personal, music production plans right now. Cause I'm, I'm in an artist development company where I'm teaching and nurturing and organizing a bunch of different genres of our [00:40:00] clients, of artists. It's really the first company I've encountered since the new Mickey Mouse Club culture. Who are capable of providing exposure in a bootcamp like scenario over time, where you are learning from providers who are in, PR who are in the media, who are, writing the bios or creating the websites or teaching the dance, teaching the vocals, showing you what a studio production culture looks like, how to, how to speak with a producer, how to co-write, how to find the right, co-writing chemistry. And bring all of these opportunities together for a young artist to really sample everything and learn from the best. And then have a better perspective on, is this something that I want to commit to? Because one of the first things we say is that this is work. It's a [00:41:00] calling. If you can go be a lawyer or a pharmacist or a vet or whatever, you need to go do that instead, because this is a lot of sacrifice. It's a lot of investment on the front end before you see a return financially on the backend and it's, it's gotta be a calling, this is probably low balling it, but at least 50,000 songs are released digitally every day.
[00:41:27] Shannon Russell: wow.
[00:41:28] Jennifer McGill: So that's a lot of fish in the sea. So on top of really holistically dealing with an artist's mixture from the inside, out, like, is this for you? Are you really committed to making this your career because you are the businessman or the business woman of your independent artists career, right? You can't hold your breath and wait for a record deal that, that almost didn't work back in the day. It certainly doesn't work now. If they're like, yeah, I want to dive into this longer. I'm ready to learn more [00:42:00] than we get to give them all of these, all of this access to these providers who can teach them more about all the things I've already mentioned. One of our artists, transitioned into our record label company. And it's this partnership with our independent artists. She was our first release with her first single she topped, Billboards like top three.
[00:42:21] Shannon Russell: Wow.
[00:42:23] Jennifer McGill: In the Country genre. And I like her songs.
[00:42:26] Shannon Russell: That's great. I hope so.
[00:42:28] Jennifer McGill: She's a wonderful song writer. Her name is Paige King Johnson. Now she is the spokeswoman for the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. They've just announced a big contest that I'm going to be one of the judges for in the fall. The sky's the limit because she has the work ethic and the commitment, , to really make the most of this independent career. And someday she may get into a record label situation, but the time will be right. and she will have the branding and the identity to get the deal she needs versus to be at the [00:43:00] mercy of a record label, cause she doesn't have an identity. She's established
[00:43:04] Shannon Russell: So you're developing that with her,
[00:43:06] Jennifer McGill: Right. So we are an artist development company. A preparatory company, so we're not managing, you know, we don't have a deal with record labels. You have to earn that level of commitment and identity and branding and time spent on, on yourself and your business for us to even consider taking one of our opportunities on you. Our artists spend a few years with us, and now they have all of these digital impressions online. They have all these numbers on their social media. They have high performance videos and really amazing songs. Their branding is together and they can go out into the world and they can keep doing what they're doing. And they're always in the family, right? I love kind of handling them as they come in and being one of those first points of contact and [00:44:00] saying, I know you, like, I know what you're going through. I get a lot of preteens who are like, well, I've got homework and this boyfriend and this and that. And it's just a lot. And I say, I know I had to go through the same stuff. When I was your. age. I was in a fish bowl. I had responsibilities. I had. I had to pay taxes like I, and I was 12 or whatever, right. It mattered what I looked like and it mattered how I conducted myself. And I was representing a very important brand and going through hormones and having crushes on boys. So I get it, I get it. You're not alone. And there's very few people in the business today that can say that to, to a pre-teen artist. So I want to be accessible. I want to make a difference where you're in those very crucial, developmental years, where you start believing certain truths about yourself. I want to be one of the voices of reason and support in a young [00:45:00] life, trying to figure out who they're going to be as an artist, you
[00:45:03] Shannon Russell: Right. Yeah. You're trying to guide them, which you're the perfect person to do this. This seems like it is your calling now in this portion of your life, in this second act to just give back to these younger artists.
[00:45:14] Jennifer McGill: And I find it so much more rewarding than the stuff that really the stuff that I was doing to promote the Unbreakable album.
[00:45:21] Shannon Russell: Well, yeah.
[00:45:23] Jennifer McGill: All of the graphics and all of the interviews and all the things, honestly, I was surprised that I was uncomfortable being in the spotlight all by myself. And I didn't expect that because for all those years, I'd wanted to be a solo artist. I'd wanted to go be famous and, you know, do all the things that other people were doing. And when I got my chance in my thirties, I got the moment to be, this solo artist with what I was presenting, it didn't feel like the end game. Like I thought it would have been back in the day. That's just part of, you know, the magic of the evolution [00:46:00] for my life
[00:46:00] Shannon: Tell me about the Unbreakable album.
[00:46:04] Jennifer McGill: The Unbreakable album, is an amazing collection of songs. Every one of those is autobiographical and every song takes you through a part of the whole, I get knocked down, but then I get back up again. Each one. of them is kind of a snapshot of that process. Fearless is all about like, yeah, I got this, I got this, you know, thank you. But there are other ones where, you're just down, like Battle Is On. That's like, oh, that's like I have to get down and dirty to fight this evil because I'm not feeling good. you know? And then one of the most special songs for me is, What I Know Now. 'cause that was a love letter to my little girl self. When I was in a time of being verbally abused, you know, I was about 12. And so that song was written to me at a time when I really needed to hear it. But it goes of course so much further beyond just me as a [00:47:00] little girl it's anybody at any age can have those feelings of I don't know if I'm valuable, that song in particular was very important. I co-wrote that with Jen Bostik and then Jeff Bohannan produced it and, and what was so beautiful about all that was, it was really easy to write, but also I think Jeff did one pass of here's the song. What do you think? And me and the executive producer were like, yup. Nothing more to do with that. So like it was, so it was still meant to be.
Even the ones that are hardly ever mentioned, like Look In The Mirror, the words of that song are like hardcore, you know, like literally looking in the mirror in high school, comparing yourself to these other kids that you think have it all together because of what they look like or act like on the outside. And. That is almost like a two way mirror experience for me, because I was both of those girls. Everybody saw me as Ms. Popular and perfect and put [00:48:00] together I felt like a complete catastrophe, you know? So I was both sides of that conversation. Nowadays me talking to anybody who has had that issue and it's like, I feel you, like, I know I get it. I think that that's part of my platform is for people who thought that I was, you know, perfect and had everything there, there is always a dark side.
[00:48:25] Shannon Russell: Yeah. And you're relatable in that way. And now you're, you're able to relate to the younger artists that are coming through that you're working with you were on the show and you're going to a performing arts high school so you're dealing with both sides and I'm sure there were issues of people thinking, oh, you're snobby because you're on TV there must have been a lot of that normal high school stuff and just elevated for you.
[00:48:47] Jennifer McGill: yeah. because it really was. like I was playing a bunch of different roles, I had some really great high school friends and I do feel like I was generally myself, but I [00:49:00] think that was the double-edged sword because I didn't necessarily feel like I could be my full self at work because I was, you know, I was a nerd. I was a great nerd. I was a great nerd. Like I was adorable, but at the core I was a total nerd. Um, and that wasn't like super popular. . I felt more like accepted or included. How about that in high school?
[00:49:24] Shannon Russell: really,
[00:49:25] Jennifer McGill: Because it was just that's being nerds. Like we can all just nerd out together And it was like no big deal. And I didn't have as much pressure in high school as I did on the show. there was a lot more than I was responsible for, no, I just, I just loved it. I loved my work that the work was never the issue. I loved that job so much.
[00:49:43] Shannon Russell: But you have a bunch of kids the same age, teenagers, and you're probably like, oh, why did she get that song? Or why was she put in that skit? And not me, I can just imagine my teenage self feeling that way,
[00:49:54] Jennifer McGill: Yeah. I mean, the joke for me is that nobody questions what Keri Russell gets. Of course she's going to [00:50:00] get it. Like, that was always kind of the funny thing for me. I'm never going to beat Kerry out for the Hottie and the situation. I was never necessarily cast as a girlfriend until I was, maybe about 16.
We shot Emerald Cove. What was a season where I was the bad girl, I was the other woman or something. I was trying to steal Tony's character away from Keri's character, I think. All of a sudden, all the lights, kind of went on with the writers and they're like, okay, once we finished shooting this and we come back to this next season, that was the shift because me and Azalea Mondell, who was Keri Russell, I had it out. And that was so fun to shoot, but it was, I was a mean girl and.
[00:50:51] Shannon Russell: been so much fun.
[00:50:53] Jennifer McGill: No one thought I had it in me. Right. Like I had all of these emotions, you know, and I got to like [00:51:00] channel it and just, you know, a few characters. And it was delightful.
[00:51:03] Shannon Russell: So when, when Mickey Mouse Club is wrapping up and it's not coming back, I mean, what were your feelings and then what was your next step after that?
[00:51:14] Jennifer McGill: So it changed a lot between seasons, the end of season six and the end of season seven. Season six, the wrap party produced one of the, the famous pictures of me. With, Justin Timberlake and Ryan Gosling. There kind of in my lap, I guess. I don't know. We're gathered at Wet and Wild, and they're talking to me about their fear of the show, not coming back because it's their first season and they just want to be on it longer because they, there, they were big fans and they're actually teary-eyed. I'm consoling them. And saying, it's going to come back. It's fine. Don't worry. It's going to be fine. And then someone took our picture and it was [00:52:00] funny because Justin kind of just stays like teary-eyed and like, Hey, but Ryan like points to the cameras, like was like, he tries to, you know, facade it out. I just thought that was cute. How they reacted very differently to taking a picture after they'd both kind of been weepy. But the next season I was going to be a senior in high school. And I had already been accepted early decision to New York University. And my contract was a seven year contract. So they would have had to renew me anyway. I guess I wasn't expecting to come back, but nothing had been full on discussed. Cause I know I could have just canceled college.
[00:52:43] Shannon Russell: right. Push it
[00:52:44] Jennifer McGill: Had they been like, no, we're gonna renew, you know, that was my backup. I was ready to go to college. So when the show wrapped the buzzings had started around the set that, a lot of new executives had come in on the [00:53:00] higher levels of the Disney Channel and that, you know, maybe we were bracing for a lot of change, maybe this was it. I just remember we got the letter in the mail but I remember reading it probably with mom. We were just kinda like, well, I mean, There you go, that's it. I guess you're going to college. So I had kind of the next thing to look forward to, and it was the first time I wasn't going to work and go to school since fifth grade,
[00:53:26] Shannon Russell: Oh, my gosh. Did you want to talk about, your experience going to prom?
[00:53:30] Jennifer McGill: It's so silly. All my group of thespians were just dancing together, you know, , Joey and I, we went together in freshmen and sophomore year of high school, I got all gussied up the first year, which is the famous picture that everyone shows. I don't remember nothing crazy happened. Like Joey, if he's infamous for like, I don't know the ladies that wasn't our journey. That just wasn't, that just wasn't us. He was one of my dear trusted friends that I could ask [00:54:00] anything to. He still is we're still cool. Honestly I talked to him more than probably the Mouseketeers on average, I guess. Like I like literally got out of high school unscathed So yeah. Me and Joey, no big deal.
[00:54:15] Shannon Russell: Amazing. You went with an N'Sync member and everyone's like, woo.
[00:54:20] Jennifer McGill: well, it's just so funny because it's like, I mean, Justin and JC, I spent way more time with than Joey.
[00:54:26] Shannon Russell: Yeah. Right.
[00:54:27] Jennifer McGill: And it wasn't at prom. It was like every day.
[00:54:30] Shannon Russell: That's so funny. Yeah.
[00:54:33] Jennifer McGill: I went on tour with JC. I was about 15 when we recorded the MMC album and I was a junior. And we're doing a USO Tour with the album. So I'm going all over the world with, Tony, Matt, JC, Ricky, Dale, and then me Rona, Anita, where the three girls, because we also did the American tours, you know. the Target tour, [00:55:00] etc. That's what I'm saying. Like to actually just go to college was going to be very intense.
[00:55:04] Shannon Russell: it's a little vacation for you.
[00:55:06] Jennifer McGill: Yeah, way less work, more dancing, which was fun, but yeah. yeah. way less work. Next goal was gonna be, let's go figure out Broadway, because I was torn between being a recording artist and studying more of really the foundational techniques for what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, which was to be on stage. So I think I made the right move for me because I needed some time to just learn how to be a human, because I knew how to be a professional. I didn't quite know who I was as a person . New York's kind of a funny place to figure that out, I guess, but, I loved it. I think had I continued down the prescribed path of the school, I would have probably ended up with the Broadway road, But that was when the record deal moment showed [00:56:00] up. And I chose that direction, which did not work out because of bubblegum, pop music.
[00:56:07] Shannon Russell: But you had to try, you didn't know that.
[00:56:09] Jennifer McGill: I did, I it's much different to you. There are Broadway roles for people of all ages, but the recording industry wanted us as young as possible. And I was already 20-21. So. That was also a problem
[00:56:25] Shannon Russell: Yeah.
[00:56:26] Jennifer McGill: To be washed up at 20, when people were just figuring out what they want to do with their lives. I do speeches on that. That's kind of the other thing that I do now. All of the things that you can, book or purchase to connect with me, it has to do with building people back up and using my stories of disappointment and, choices that didn't turn out the way I wanted them to and identity crisis, like all of the trials and tribulations of my life. I want to be as transparent as I can, because as we've said, I want to be relatable. I want people to know that they're [00:57:00] not alone and that what people look like on the outside does not necessarily define everything that's going on on the inside that's where it all comes from, like our love or hate and everything in between. It comes from the core of us. And so so that's just really my goal. I'm working on a book super slow when I'm working on a book and I'm working on just a fun, little merch collection that I can't talk about yet, but it's like a, a cutesy thing that you'll be able to buy. It's like something you can hold in your hand once it's finished.
[00:57:29] Shannon Russell: have some shirts And things on your website also,
[00:57:32] Jennifer McGill: do I have shirts? I have mugs. I have a lot of, you know, like headshots and postcards. If you want one autograph, you can purchase that.
[00:57:40] Shannon Russell: You do vocal lessons as well.
[00:57:42] Jennifer McGill: That's right. I do have opportunities where we can meet face-to-face virtually and, Jen talks or there's vocal coaching there's, you know, live performance coaching because a lot of live performance now happens virtually. So there's all these opportunities where, you know, we can get in front of each other [00:58:00] and, and speak. I'm best just having a conversation with someone one-on-one the other thing I'm great at is just being a very authentic speaker. I show up with my few bullet points and I, sing a song or two that help, encapsulate what I'm speaking about for that event. Usually it's a ministry type event, but you know, I'll always be doing that kind of stuff. I would love to finish out my life, speaking into people's lives, you know, and have a book done so that sometimes it'll speak for me. And always, promoting the message of the Unbreakable album.
[00:58:31] Shannon Russell: I read that you've always been a church girl, so did having that, faith in God kind of lead you on the right path throughout this crazy career of yours going from when you were young till now, and kind of always following his path.
[00:58:44] Jennifer McGill: Well, I didn't always follow God's path because when I was a church girl, I was really well educated. , I knew the Bible and I knew how to take good notes and I knew all the words in the youth choir.[00:59:00] but I had a hard time connecting to God, the parent, because I humanized God too much. I always expected God to be, judgy and, um, um, uh, critical because I was super critical of myself and I couldn't get around humanizing God to the point where I just, you know, I would never believe that there was this unconditional love and grace thing. It was hard to figure all that out and I didn't have it all figured out before my mother passed away. So then I was really in this spiral, season where really she had been my Jesus.
[00:59:40] Shannon Russell: Yeah.
[00:59:41] Jennifer McGill: She had been my God. , I looked to her for all the choices and all of the support and all of the affirmation. You know, with all the celebrities that were popping up and like really, you know, in their heyday, I really ignored what the best God would have wanted for me at the time. And I [01:00:00] tried to live a rockstar life, but just sort of privately, you know, and I just tried to be something that I wasn't for a while. The interesting thing about that was it. I did it a little later in life because I had been, so work-focused when a lot of young people that are make maybe making those choices or experimenting in ways that could be super dangerous. Maybe getting it out of their system. but I can imagine if it's your child, you would never want your child to go through some of the stuff that I went through, but all of those things have now made me the wiser, stronger person than I, that I am. And also more compassionate towards people making those choices. And so, I had my come to Jesus moment when I was 30 and I had really isolated, pretty much everybody away from me. I talk a lot about this in my speeches, where I got on my knees and I just said, Lord, I have really [01:01:00] ignored you for a while. And I've tried to do stuff my way. And I've made all these bad choices. And I don't, I don't like how my life is. I don't like who I am and I don't want to do life without you anymore. Just in case Jesus left, can, you know, I want him to come back into my heart like that whole just in case, I said, Lord, I don't really care if I'm in music anymore. I just want to go where you lead me. I really put him in the driver's seat. I really didn't want to make a bunch of guesstimations anymore. you know, And that really changed my trajectory very fast. You know, I, I, I found myself in a safer place where I was spiritually supported and learning about God on new levels I still made a lot of weird, bad choices, but I tried to involve God as much as I could in my decisions. Over time, What's really incredible now is that, God and I, or holy spirit. And I, we, we have, [01:02:00] you know, I hear things and see things and there's always this connection. Like, there's Nothing that I have to preface my, my communication with God with anymore.
[01:02:11] Shannon Russell: you have a relationship with him.
[01:02:12] Jennifer McGill: Yeah. I feel it all the time and it's always there. And in the last few years really, it's just so nuts how hardship can happen. but you know, hard decisions had to be made in recent years. And there's a lot of questioning. There's a lot of questions I had for God. There's a lot of stuff that I had to share. And I think what helped me with being as transparent as I could with, with God is that God knows anyway. And I feel that I finally shed 98% of worrying about what other people think Of me like 98%. but That's a certain kind of fear that I've had my whole life, worrying about how [01:03:00] I read, how I present, what I look like on camera, blah, blah, blah. Like the decisions I make and what I stand for. And who's gonna, you know, who's, who's gonna challenge my opinions or my thoughts. With this really difficult last season, I've come out on the other end, very strong, very sure of who I am very focused in, in what I would like to accomplish. More fearless than ever, because I've already gone through, I suppose, the judgy fires around me, you know, and I've lived through it. I really believe that God loves us so much more than we can ever know. Because my mother's love was so compassionate and so patient and so supportive, and that was just my mother.
[01:03:51] Shannon Russell: Yeah.
[01:03:52] Jennifer McGill: So when I open up the box that, you know, I sometimes have put God in and I think about God, the father, but also [01:04:00] God, the mother thought the parents in, in, in its wholeness and that's really changed my life, and I will always share that with people. I will always try to show them that God is much more than the humanized version that we talk about.
[01:04:14] Shannon Russell: Right. You just sound so happy and you sound so assured of yourself,
[01:04:19] Jennifer McGill: Well, I'm exhausted. I'm exhausted. I joke I should have been retired like a decade ago. I feel like I'm 65.
[01:04:28] Shannon Russell: but you're serving, you're serving and you're doing such good for these younger artists and good for yourself. Cause it's just filling you up.
[01:04:35] Jennifer McGill: Right. That's really the, the punchline is if you love it and it's so much fun, can you really call it a job? Yeah. This is something that my biggest passion is to be able to speak about these things and to verbally pour love into people for the rest of my life. So everything that I do, I want to bring it more towards that. That's my end game is, is just to be able to, [01:05:00] travel and share these types of thoughts of, of healing and, identity truthness. And it's not even a phrase identity. Truthness what does that, you know, but you know, our truth my truth, your truth, and me always encouraging people to tether that identity, to the example of Jesus, I know a lot of people have different opinions in, religious matters and all the things. But when you look at Jesus, whatever you think about what he was or who he wasn't, I think Jesus came to show us how to love each other and I think everybody can draw from when we look at what love really means, starting with ourself and getting ourselves to the point where then we're strong enough to love other people, because how are we going to tell everybody else that they're awesome. We don't feel that if we don't feel that about ourselves. You need a bigger strength than yourself to pull from, to really see yourself fully as what you're supposed to be created [01:06:00] to be. And the purpose that you, that you are destined to fulfill. that's a good, that's a good template,
[01:06:07] Shannon Russell: that's a great, yeah. I'm excited for your book just to see all of your thoughts and all of these, all this wisdom that you've acquired over the years to be in your written word, it's going be.
[01:06:20] Jennifer McGill: I'm so excited and I'm so scared everybody has to know, I will not resort to a ghost writer, which is why it will be one of the scariest things I've ever done. I am very hands-on and I need it to be authentic. Which means I have to do it myself. Just really, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do it.
[01:06:41] Shannon Russell: You can do it. You can do it.
[01:06:44] Jennifer McGill: It's just, I get really perfectionist about that. And I, I have to conquer that fear.
[01:06:51] Shannon Russell: it's some good therapy. I think just writing those words down, getting it out there, like that's just, that's good for the soul,
[01:06:58] Jennifer McGill: yeah. And it's [01:07:00] been on my spiritual, I would say checklist for a long time. I'm excited for it to be finished,
[01:07:07] Shannon Russell: I bet you are. It's a work in progress. That's all good.
So what's one piece of advice that you would give to someone who's about to start their second.
[01:07:21] Jennifer McGill: I believe you have to be extremely honest with yourself in what you want. People pleasers like me undervalue themselves when they are deciding to change careers and go find a job or figure out their salary, let's say right. now in this day and age, maybe you think you have to show up to an office or you have to do a nine to five, or maybe you think you have to work for someone else or that you have to have childcare. There's all these things that you think have to be a certain way, but what brings you joy? What makes your life easier or [01:08:00] what makes enough space for you to be the human that you want to be as well? If you're going to just switch one, I'm too busy. Life is crazy for another. I'm too busy. Life is crazy. You have to just be really honest about, is that going to fulfill you in the change in the transition?
One of my biggest gifts in this whole final chapter of walking through this certain kind of fire and these decisions I've had to make in the last year and a half is not being afraid of saying no. That is so hard. No, I'm gonna do something different. Gosh, when I started doing that and rebuilding my life, everything I do. I love everything I do. I love the people I hang out with are the right people,
[01:08:51] Shannon Russell: right.
[01:08:52] Jennifer McGill: you know, my dog is awesome.
[01:08:55] Shannon Russell: Yeah. You're surrounding yourself with the people that you want to spend your time with. So, and your work [01:09:00] doesn't feel like work. I mean, that's the goal for everyone.
[01:09:03] Jennifer McGill: Be confident that you are making currently healthy choices for yourself, not preconceived traditional choices and be confident in saying no.
[01:09:17] Shannon Russell: That is excellent. Jennifer, for all of our listeners who I know are going to want to connect with you, what's the best way to follow you and connect with you and follow your work.
[01:09:28] Jennifer McGill: I would love for you to follow all of my social media, which you can find on my website. I would love for you to follow me on Instagram and send me a little DM and I can send you like a little emoji or something. I'm pretty responsive.
[01:09:42] Shannon Russell: You're very active on Instagram. I love it.
[01:09:44] Jennifer McGill: on my website, I have my store and I do have Jen Talks there for purchase. If you want to chat with me for 30 minutes or an hour, including, you know, voice lessons too, that's how you can support me the best. Because as you know, I can talk a lot [01:10:00] and I love doing that with people. One-on-one, and I'm all about emotional support and asking questions and being open. So if you need someone to talk to, who is not a licensed therapist, I am happy to be that person. My website's great YouTube. Like I have so many. Very purposeful playlist there. I have a great one for the Unbreakable album. I do lyric videos for clients, and I have a whole playlist of people that I've done, visual work for. And, I have a Mickey Mouse Club playlist
[01:10:31] Shannon Russell: I love it. well, Jennifer, I just have to thank you. I know I fan girl out on you, but I just am so ecstatic to talk to you and to hear your story and see all the good in the world that you're putting out there. So thank you for taking the time.
[01:10:46] Jennifer McGill: Oh, you're so welcome. This has just been so much fun. I love, I love talking about all this and I appreciate the great questions.
Spending this time with Jennifer McGill was such a joy and my 12 year old self is [01:11:00] totally freaking out right now. Jennifer is truly an example of why you should never give up on your dreams. And even if the road changes course a bit. You can still keep driving to find a place that feels like home. Be sure to follow Jennifer on Instagram. She is @thejennifermcgill. And you can see all of the latest info about her projects on her website www.jennifermcgill.com. Thank you for hanging out with us today. My friend, talk to you soon.
Thank you for joining us. I hope you found some gems of inspiration and some takeaways to help you on your path to Second Act Success. To view show notes from this episode, recommend to guests with a great story, and learn more about us. Visit secondactsuccess.co. Before you go, don't forget to subscribe to the podcast. So you don't miss a single episode. And if you are enjoying our time together, please leave a review in Apple Podcast, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you listen to your [01:12:00] podcasts. Reviews only take a few moments and they really do mean so much. Thank you again for listening. I am Shannon Russell, and this is Second Act Success.
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