Tis the season, my friends! I am a huge fan of Hallmark’s Christmas romances. Aesthetically, they are so dreamy. They never fail to make me cry at the end and can I please win some kind of contest where whoever does wardrobe for the heroines comes to redo my closet? I remember, once upon a time, when I’d watch a premiere and have no one to share my thoughts with! Well, if you were unaware, that is no longer something to fret over! The ladies of Hallmark’s Official Podcast, Bubbly Sesh have us covered! I had to pick these ladies’ brains. Without further ado, here is our chat.
Bree: I am fangirling just a bit at the moment! Thank you so much to Jacks and Shawl, the amazing ladies behind the Podcast, Hallmark Channel’s Bubbly Sesh for chatting with me. First thing’s first: I know the world of Podcasts is still new to a lot of people. If you had to do an elevator pitch and explain to listeners what they can expect from your podcast, what would your pitch be?
Bubbly Sesh: First of all, thank you so much! So glad you enjoy the podcast. It always thrills and delights us when we hear from our listeners! Our elevator pitch would be:
We are two bubbly gals and friends who cover all the Hallmark movies including the Hallmark Christmas movies and discuss romance, relationships and more all while drinking a glass of bubbly. Hence the Bubbly Sesh! We have fun, are enthusiastic about these films, but really love discussing the relationships both romantic and non in these movies and how they relate to real life. Plus, we get the insider access being Hallmark Channels’ Official Podcast so you get to hear behind the scenes tidbits, insight into movie-making and we interview all the talented actors, producers, writers, etc. in the Hallmark family.
Bree: One of my favorite aspects of your podcast is that you can tell you ladies have a true friendship outside of it. I love seeing the rise of podcasts hosted by in real life gal pals. Can you give us all the details as to how the idea of Bubbly Sesh came about?
Bubbly Sesh: We are both actresses in NYC and met in an acting class and had this mutual admiration for each other’s talent and personality. We became friends and wanted to take it a step further and really creatively collaborate on something, but we couldn’t figure out what. Shawl’s husband ended up suggesting that we start a podcast because he said he always loved when we got into an animated conversation about something we are both passionate about and enjoyed listening to that fun banter. Simultaneously, we went out for a girls night, drinking some bubbly like we do and Shawl mentioned that she had a rough day and was watching a little bit of Hallmark Channels’ Nine Lives of Christmas and it put her in a good mood and Jacks said, “I love that movie”. From there, we both confessed that we loved the Hallmark movies not even just their Christmas movies. Plus, Jacks loves discussing relationship dynamics and always reads books on compatibility/love and a light bulb went off and we said, let’s do a podcast to share our love of these movies, but also chat about the romance and relationships within them.
Bree: At the end of September, I read a romance novel about a woman who started a podcast where she would read steamy sex scenes from a romance novel from work in hopes that it would help build her confidence and ease her nerves when chatting with her really hot neighbor. She was shocked to learn that she actually had listeners out there! Do you remember when you realized that people were actually following along with your conversations, and looking forward to what you had to say next?
Bubbly Sesh: It’s so incredible that the podcast medium has become so popular. We are both avid listeners of podcasts and the cool thing about them is that you feel like you are spying on this intimate conversation that’s being had. We absolutely love the fact that we get to have conversations that we would have as friends anyway and share them with our listeners. The first time we realized someone was listening is when someone direct messaged our Instagram account and told us how an anecdote we had shared about our actual relationships with our romantic partners related to them and inspired them in their relationship. We also always get messages of what movies people love or we do a segment called Gush and Gag and people will send us their gushes or their gags! It’s so fun. It’s great to have social media for that reason because you get a direct link to your listeners and it enables them to be part of the conversation with us.
Bree: I was listening to your chat with actor James Denton and I was shocked to learn how kind of up and down his career has been for him. He’s so amazing that it seems like the stars were always aligned for him! In your chats, what has taken you most by surprise?
Bubbly Sesh: Right? James was an awesome interview and he’s such an accomplished actor that it’s always surprising when you hear someone like that has had certain challenges along the way.
In all honesty, we are always delightfully surprised about how many deep and reflective conversations we can have with our talent. Yes, we try to keep it light and upbeat and always play a game at the end of every interview, but during the interviews, some of the stories interviewees have shared have been so inspiring. We have one part of our interview called our Soul Sesh Moment where our guest shares something that they live by and those are so good! They are something that we definitely feel like after we’ve spoken to them, we get to take something away from that conversation, know the backstory as to why it’s meaningful to them and actually implement in our lives. We’ve had everything from “Don’t Blink” to even something silly and fun such as ” Get your eyebrows microbladed, it’s the best” so it’s a range of advice which we love (it doesn’t always have to be super serious), but something that we look forward to hearing what our guest will say.
Bree: I have to say, I think you ladies are totally badass for a few reasons. I admire women who unabashedly own something they love, and create a safe space for others to enjoy that love too and talk about it. I think sometimes the world has a way of trying to make women feel silly for things we enjoy, and your podcast is the perfect example of being proud of something that makes you happy and sharing that with others. What’s even more inspiring is you ladies started the podcast in 2017, gained the backing of the Hallmark fan base and are now the official Hallmark Channel Podcast! You’re a true testament to how hard work, dedication and passion behind what you’re doing, can pay off in the end. Can you share how the transition happened? Do you remember your initial thoughts?
Bubbly Sesh: Thank you so much for saying that and we think it’s badass that you want to write about women and their passions! You are 100% right in that we want to create that space where we welcome people to unabashedly say they love these movies, love romance, love to feel good whether it’s sometimes to lovingly poke fun at the gushy moments or when it’s truly heartfelt.
Our journey to Crown Media is one we are so proud of because we really worked hard trying to produce a quality show that was entertaining and fun, but also made you feel good and reflect. We had been doing the podcast for about a year as you mentioned and had just finished covering all of the Hallmark Christmas movies for 2018. Shawl who solely produced the show initially as well as hosted, e-mailed Bill Abbott, the CEO and Michelle Vicary, EVP of Crown Media to see if they would be interested in working with us or even interested in taking us on because we thought, what’s the worst that could happen…they don’t write back? And they did! Bill Abbott said he’d like to meet at the Crown Media offices in NYC.
Before we went into the Crown Media offices, we were nervous, but also really excited. Jacks commented that she felt like we were entrepreneurial Hallmark heroines walking in about to pitch the big boss. We knew that working with Hallmark Channel would be a dream come true for both of us. Bill was very welcoming and we told him all about the podcast we had been working on for the last year and how much we love Hallmark Channel content and chatting with so many members of the Hallmark Channel family.
Bill was so appreciative of our joy and enthusiasm for the brand that he asked us if we wanted to tell our story to a few people from the sales team. We followed him down the hallway, expecting to be brought into a room with a handful of people or doing a passerby cubicle wave, you know? But, he leads us into this big conference room and it was full of the entire Crown Media sales team! What we didn’t know is that Crown Media was having a huge sales meeting with employees from multiple locations in the NYC office. He welcomed us in and asked us to tell everyone our story. We did and at the end, they clapped. THEY CLAPPED! We couldn’t believe it – it was like we felt before that we were in our very own Hallmark movie. We started working in the Crown Media office less than 2 months later!
Bree: Countdown to Christmas 2019 is here and I’m so excited! I think part of the excitement is seeing how excited the rest of the Hallmark fan base is. It’s pretty contagious. What do you think it is about these movies that make them mean so much to so many people?
Bubbly Sesh: The Countdown to Christmas tradition is celebrating its 10th Anniversary this year! Ten years of this incredible tradition that honestly, we wait for and we know other fans wait for as well. Hallmark Christmas movies are like no other Christmas movies because they satisfy that need to feel connected and to feel good particularly around this time of year, but they also incorporate magic, love, family, beautiful and immaculate production design and truly quality storytelling that anyone in your family can enjoy. Particularly in this politically divisive climate we live in right now, Hallmark Christmas movies are a safe haven during the season. They are such joyful escapism and heartfelt reflection that anyone can watch. We know that’s a huge plus for us that we can watch it with any member of our family old and young or any one of our friends no matter if we have different values and still find that it’s all of our happy place. We are also big rom com fans and big budget rom coms just aren’t made as regularly anymore, so Hallmark movies satisfy that fix for us too.
Okay, random rapid-fire questions for us to get to know you a bit more:
Bree: You’re the heroine in a 2020 Hallmark new release. Is it a fall harvest film or Countdown to Christmas film?
Jacks: Shawl and I had a blast playing Leaf Peepers in the Fall Harvest movie Love, Fall & Order. I love all of the seasonal franchises so much, so I’m going to say Countdown to Christmas so I can check another one off my bucket list….and maybe a June Weddings movie after that?
Shawl: What!? This is tough! Can I choose both? I’m a Libra, it’s bad, I’m always weighing everything. All I know is I want to be part of a cookie baking scene in a Hallmark Christmas movie where I get to wear a cute apron and me and my handsome man get to throw flour at each other’s faces or get into some sort of flour fight! In Fall Harvest, just put me in a fall festival with bobbing for apples, hayrides and pumpkin picking and I’m happy! I just did a part in a Fall Harvest film, Love, Fall and Order with Jacks and that was a true highlight for me!
Bree: You can only watch one Hallmark film for the rest of your life, which movie is it?
Jacks: I would watch all of the mystery movies over and over again on a loop, especially Mystery 101 and Crossword Mysteries. I adore all of my mystery heroines!
Shawl: Okaaay. No, just no! Don’t make me pick just one. I will tell you some I have DVR’d that I watch over again are Snow Bride, Nine Lives of Christmas, Christmas in Evergreen (the first Bubbly Sesh podcast episode ever), Moonlight in Vermont, Switched for Christmas and A Shoe Addict’s Christmas.
Bree: 20 years from now, you’re writing your memoir, what’s the title?
Jacks: Mine would be Hustle & Heart. My grandfathers were coal miners, my grandma worked 12 hour days as a janitor in my local high school, and my parents worked so hard to provide for our family. I come from a small coal region town in Pennsylvania and the people there are such hard workers, so I think I learned the importance of hustling and working hard from my family and the people in my hometown. I’m a very heart led person and hope that I am always treating others with kindness and respect.
Shawl: You know that quote, “Don’t Ever Let Anyone Dull Your Sparkle,” maybe that? I’ve personally had the experience sometimes that people can think it artificial if you are too happy or too full of joy and that’s just not true. You don’t have to be dark all the time to be real. There is reality in the lightness, joy and sparkle so I love that quote for that reason.
Another choice maybe is Family, Gratitude and Kindred Spirits. I love my family so much and I’m so grateful to my parents. Being immigrants, the struggle, hard work and sacrifice they made for us so that they could build a good life for my sisters and me has always blown me away and the way they raised us to be independent, kind and resilient leads me through my life and especially now that I’m a parent. Kindred spirits comes from Anne of Green Gables because that’s my favorite book and literary heroine. I really make it a priority to surround myself with people who are just that, kindred spirits.
Bree: You wake up at 1 in the morning craving a snack. What snack do you grab?
Jacks: I love anything savory, especially salty stuff. If I have left over French fries in the fridge (yes, I’m weird!) I’ll heat those up. If not that, potato chips!
Shawl: I’m a chocoholic so anything chocolate I can eat any time of day. Reeses Peanut Butter cups are my go-to. Morning, noon or night.
Bree: What’s the last song you couldn’t get out of your head?
Jacks: I Wanna Dance with Somebody by Whitney Houston. I dare you to put it on and be able to not sing and dance along. I DARE YOU.
Shawl: Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper it’s my ringtone so it’s always in my head and one of my favorite songs.
Bree: Second chance or enemies to lovers?
Jacks: Second chance story lines are fun because it makes me think of my ex boyfriends and how probably none of them would want to get back together with me. It’s also nice because the characters know a lot about each other already, so they already have this emotional connection and history.
Shawl: I always like the enemies to lovers storylines! I like the feisty banter and how someone you think might be the absolute wrong person for you ends up being the one. There’s a lot of discovery and fun in that. Because a lot of people have a “list” of what they want and it could turn out that “THE ONE” isn’t what you had on the “list” at all.
Bree: Lastly, knowing what you know now, if you could give yourselves advice back when you first began podcasting, what would it be?
Jacks: Don’t feel like you need to fill the space so much. In life, I’m really comfortable listening, but sometimes on the podcast I have felt the need to fill the space. I’m still working on it! Of course, we don’t want our listeners sitting and listening to silence (although maybe that could be relaxing?) but sometimes if you take a moment then someone else will speak and share something and magic can happen.
Shawl: Something that we’ve implemented now that I don’t know if we did as much initially is when interviewing people to let the conversation go where it’s going to go. You absolutely have to prep and have a format, but it’s nice to be spontaneous and that’s where we really get to know the person we are interviewing. I’m such a planner that I need more spontaneity in my life personally, anyway.
And to anyone out there who is intimidated by editing your podcast, if I can do it, you can too! There’s def a learning curve and I’m not the best by any means, but you can learn the programs and it can be done so don’t let that stop you. I know it was something I let feel super overwhelming at first instead of being patient with myself so just go for it!
So fun and so inspiring! Jacks and Shawl become friends you catch up with once a week to laugh and chat about films that mean so much to so many women. Their podcast is always the perfect pick me up when I need it. Wherever you listen to your Podcasts, I can’t recommend enough, adding Bubbly Sesh to your library and if you’ve been thinking of starting a Podcast of your own, take some inspiration from these ladies and just got for it!