Debbie Gibson stars as Jessica in an inspiring drama about a woman who gives up her singing career to take care of her aging parents. Sweeping her dreams aside Jessica discovers that her dreams of becoming a singer and songwriter are not dead after being invited to a church’s failing choir. The journey proves to be one that encompasses new friendships, facing foes who want her to fail, and an answered prayer.
Gibson has sold millions of records and is considered the “original pop princess” with hits like “Only in my Dreams,” “Foolish Beat,” “Shake Your Love,” and “Electric Youth” during the 1980s and 1990s. She has grown as an actress, dancer, and continues to pen hits with the new song “Promises” in the film. I caught up with Debbie, to ask her about her latest project. If loved her personality before, you will fall in love with Debbie all over again.
What were your personal takeaways from this role?
Well, I think we all have deep passions and talents that will never die and the universe will conspire to bring them to fruition no matter how much fear we may have. My late voice teacher Guen Omeron always said, “People are more afraid of success than they are of death.” So, they sabotage it every way possible to avoid the responsibility that comes with that success and I think that’s true. “I also took away some great new girlfriends …Amy, Kim and Gloria (Laughs)!”
How did you prepare for this film?
Funny enough, my prep time was not as long as I had hoped because the music took a lot longer to work on than expected. I had gone a certain direction with song “Promises” and the producers Stan Kamens and Roma Roth referred back to my original voice memo with some initial melodic ideas and led me in what ended up to be a better direction – and funny enough, back full circle to my first instincts! So, what ended up being my prep was being immersed in music under someone else’s guidance much like the character. I also did a great coaching session with my longtime acting teacher Howard Fine who is a genius at finding ways to connect to a character.
What were the challenges, if any, in playing this character?
Well, I’ve never hidden behind anything when it came to pursuing my passions as Jessica does, or, so I thought. But in exploring further, I found the places in my life where I am fearful and vulnerable. Exposing that stuff is never easy. I’m also naturally more rock and roll and animated so the director John’s biggest note was constantly, “Pull it back! Remember you’re a small town girl!”
What are the main messages that you want the audience to receive?
That amazing things can happen when you stop trying so hard and are simply present to what’s meant to be happening in your life. What you think you wanted might come in a different form you thought it would come in!
How did this opportunity present itself?
My agent David Shapira set up a brunch with Barbara Fisher, SVP of Original Programming at UP! I recall I had eggs over medium and a croissant! (laughs!) I was also seeing my voice doctor that day and the pictures of me in a yellow jacket ended up all over the Internet so the day is well documented!
But, I digress. We met and discussed ideas and how in real life I started music programs called “Camp Electric Youth” for kids and young adults long before mentoring was “in” on shows like “The Voice.” We took that passion I had for leading groups in music and the UP team enlisted writer Bryar Freed to craft a story that ended up centering around a small town girl who kept giving up on herself and dreams in order to help others. I was ecstatic that I got to portray a “real girl” who is grounded, a bit fearful and depressed…not someone who has it all together…because most people don’t!
The original UP Premiere Movie “The Music In Me” will make its television debut on Sun., April 12 at 7:00 p.m. EDT / 6:00 p.m. PDT.