Yesterday, I got to chat with the lovely Jessica Marie Garcia who plays Willow on Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie. Here’s what we talked about.
How exciting is it being part of a Disney show like Liv and Maddie?
“It’s a dream come true. I’ve dreamt of being on Disney Channel forever. When I moved out here even being able to audition for them I thought was incredible. So even coming here every single day I always remind myself how amazing that is. I’m very thankful.”
Do you share any traits with your character Willow?
“I share her passion. We don’t express it in the same way. [laughs] She’s pretty loud and an aggressive girl, but I can be that a little bit. Maybe not to the volume she gets.
She’s also a really great friend and a really great supporter of her friends. I love that we share the message to young girls that it’s really great to support each other. [I also share] her love of sports. I’m nowhere as good as she is at sports, but yeah I love it.”
I saw that you were in The Middle and that’s one of my favourite shows, so I have to ask what was that experience like? Were you a fan before you got cast?
“Oh my god! That was so unreal! When I got the job I was working at a restaurant where I was serving Neil Flynn [who plays Mike Heck] on a constant basis. It was so bizarre getting the role and sitting there across from him at a table read instead of serving him a burger. That was a very surreal moment for me.
That show is such a well oiled machine and they are such a big family. It was just so easy and so fun. I worked a lot with Eden [Sher who plays Sue Heck] and she is the sweetest girl I have ever worked with. She’s unreal. It was one of the most fun four years of my life being on that show.”
What or who inspired you to get into acting?
“I’m an only child so I used to put on little plays all the time growing up. When I was really young, my mom had me watch a movie called ‘Funny Girl’ and that was the first movie that I ever saw. I wanted to do everything Barbra Streisand was doing in this movie. It just took my breath away. Watching that, I told my mom I wanna do that and be that. She told me that you have to watch the best. She made me watch all these old classic movies with Elizabeth Taylor and Bette Davis, actresses of that calibre. While watching them I was like I need to do this and I have not turned back and wanted to do anything else.”
I read about your pre-diabetic diagnosis that you had two years ago. I admire the dedication you had to make changes. What was going through your mind at the time when you found out? And what motivated you to change?
“Well, it was just really shocking. When you’re growing up you have this mindset that you are invincible. You know, other people were sick and I was never sick. So, it was not something that I t
hought would ever happen to me – even thought it does run in my family – and I just never got checked out. I thought I was fine and that I wouldn’t have to go to the doctor.
When I finally got checked out and they said I was pre-diabetic, it just hit me so hard. I’ve always been the kind of woman who said that you can get through anything as long as you fight for it and believe in it and it was the first time I actually had to be true to my word and actually show that.
What motivated me the most was that I’m on this show and I want a future in that. It was the happiest I’ve ever been and I have to be healthy for that. My career was one of my biggest motivations. Through that, I kind of found a worth in myself. You know, I think when you’re overweight it’s easy to see a self worth and I didn’t have that. And I think you need to have that in order to make any changes in yourself. That was the biggest motivation.”
What are your plans for the future? Any interesting projects coming up?
“I’ve just been working a little bit with AwesomenessTV which is really big online and doing some sketch comedies with a new and upcoming show. Right now we’re in the bulk of Liv and Maddie and shooting season three.”
Who’s an actor you’d love to get the chance to work with?
“You know I’ve said it before, I don’t think I’ll ever stop saying it until I do, it’s Sam Rockwell. I think he’s one of the best actors out there!
You can see Jessica reprise her role as Willow in Season Three of Disney Channel’s Liv and Maddie very soon.