(Photo courtesy of Pure Publicity)
Out of Hiding
An Interview with Jamie Grace on The Beauty of Being Seen
By Sarah Komisky
Jamie Grace is a girl who knows what it feels like to be afraid. A statement that seems shocking for the beloved podcaster, YouTuber, singer, songwriter, and actress. But nonetheless, true. That’s because for a long time, Jamie tried to hide what she called being “too loud” or “quirky.” In addition, Jamie also faced several real challenges such as being diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, Anxiety, OCD, and ADHD, as well as being bullied. Instead of giving up, Jamie persevered. With every new endeavor, she took a step out of hiding where she had been in for so long. Recently, stopping by Marked Ministry, Jamie talked with us about that journey to becoming herself. Here is what she shared on overcoming insecurities, acceptance, sisterhood, motherhood, mentorship, her new Pure Flix series, The Beverlys, diversity, and more.
Sarah: So, many know your songs, but many don’t know how you got your start in music. Share a little bit of the story behind why you chose music as a career in your early teens.
Jamie: When I was 14 years old, I started a YouTube channel as a way to express myself. I was really passionate about comedy and music and bringing people joy through those things. I never anticipated it becoming a full-time job or even a part-time job. I just knew that I was passionate about creating and I felt a calling on my life to bring joy to others. By 17 years old, I was discovered by a kids television show on a national Christian network and they also asked me to go out on tour with them. At that point, I only had songs on YouTube, but as a college sophomore, I started to build friendships with other musicians on campus through open mic events. I went in the studio with a buddy of mine and we created a four song EP. I also recorded some of the vocals in my dorm room. As the years went on, my YouTube channel and my EP were shared, and I was able to have a lot more exciting opportunities come my way.
Sarah: Growing up, you faced several challenges such being diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome, Anxiety, OCD, and ADHD, as well as being bullied. Yet, despite all of the many obstacles you faced, you persevered and were a part of TBN’s iShine KNECT, created your own YouTube channel, and said yes to be a keynote speaker on the Revolve Tour (just to name a few). The career path you’ve been on and the industry you’re involved in placed you in the public eye. How did you begin to deal with that as you were confronted with your fears and insecurities?
Jamie: Thank you so much by the way! Those moments with iShine and Revolve are some of the most wonderfully vivid memories that I have as a young artist. Keeping a solid community around me was and still is the most important part of this entire journey. I was never the cool kid and I very seldom fit in, so being put in the public eye and dealing with the opinions and commentaries of others, while challenging, was only a magnified version of what I was used to. The thing that has kept me sane and stable even when things do feel like they’re falling apart is the support of my parents, my sister, my small group of close friends, and now my husband. They not only encourage me and support my art, but they ultimately remind me of who I was created to be. At the core of it all, when we find our worth and our value in who God says we are, it is difficult to give too much attention to what other people have to say or even think about us.
Sarah: One of the things I admire about you is your ability to be yourself. How did you come to that place in life?
Jamie: I really appreciate that. I wasn’t always publicly comfortable in my own skin. Growing up, my family knew me as this outgoing and bubbly kid. I would often times share that part of who I was at school or at a friends birthday party, but the second I would start to catch the drift that someone thought I was too much or too loud, I begin to crawl into a shell and become very insecure. When I started my YouTube channel, it was the first time that I allowed myself to be fully quirky and confidently awkward without holding back. I realized that, yes, there were going to be people that left comments who didn’t like the content I was sharing, and who thought I was too weird, but there were also people commenting saying that I made them feel like they belonged. It’s crazy because I always thought that the key to finding my voice was to try and silence the loud parts and blend with everyone else. But in reality, I never lost my voice; I just had to stop hiding it.
Sarah: Rewinding for a moment, go back to the time you met your husband. How was he and how has he continued to be someone who encourages and inspires you to be yourself?
Jamie: I can’t dance. For most of my life, my dancing has been something that I knew was funny, but I still enjoyed doing it because dancing is so much fun! Whether it was my high school prom or just a girl’s night at a friend’s house, I have always been discouraged the second I start moving. I don’t mind if people laugh with me, because I know I’m being goofy, but it can have a negative impact on you when people are genuinely laughing at you. The first time my husband and I were being silly with friends and blasting loud music, he started cheering me on. I must note that he’s an incredible dancer in literally any style and in that context would have any right to tell me what I’m doing wrong. But instead, he joins me, laughing with me and even showing me new moves that we both know I am not capable of. It may seem like “oh, you guys dance together,” but it’s more than that. It’s being seen for the parts of your heart you love that everyone else has continually ignored. One of the greatest joys of marriage is simply being seen.
Sarah: Your sister (Morgan Harper Nichols) has played a big part in life as a friend, as someone who has helped you in your healing journey, and also as a creative partner. Talk about Morgan and the impact she’s made on your life.
Jamie: Every time I play a show, one of the most popular scenarios that happens is a mom comes up to me afterward in the signing line and asks me how her daughters can be less like enemies and more like friends. This scenario breaks my heart more than most. Sisterhood is one of the most beautiful gifts that we’ve ever been given on this earth and the privilege of building a friendship with my sister is one that I am so grateful to have. While we have had moments of disagreeing and still have moments of growth in our late 20s, my sister Morgan is absolutely my best friend. When I was a kid and I was going through challenging things at school with bullies, or even at church and in my friend groups with bullies, and facing my medical diagnoses, Morgan continually stepped in to support me. She never spent her time going to the bully or trying to solve the problem; she simply found movies that I loved and watched them with me, figured out a snack that we could make together, or took on a chore or two of mine when she knew that I might be too tired or sick. As we got older our relationship grew into writing songs together, starting a production company together and (we totally didn’t plan it) but now we both have children who are only eight days apart, so we get to raise them together! My sister is very well known for poetry and inspiration that reaches millions of people throughout social media every single day. One of my favorite things to tell people is that the impact that she makes in peoples’ lives through a phone or screen, is nothing in comparison to who she is as a person in real life as a sister and as a friend.
Sarah: You have a new series out on Pure Flix called The Beverlys. Tell us about it.
Jamie: The Beverlys is is a sitcom about three girls who become the foster daughters of a big-time record producer. They have a passion for singing and dancing; and, as a singing group “The Royal Beverly’s,” start to learn the ins and outs of the music industry and their faith, with the help of his assistant and their new manager/mentor. I play the manager/mentor Jamie, and I had so much fun filming the show.
Sarah: There are so many different tween series out there right now. What do you hope The Beverlys brings that is different to the table?
Jamie: While we had scripts, shooting schedules and cameras, The Beverlys is more than a show. This show touches on every topic that young girls talk or even think about, from fear to insecurities, to self worth, and so much more. It’s a really funny comedy, but it’s also filled with so many sweet and genuine moments that will certainly provide opportunities for girls and their families to have a really intentional, and likely even comical, conversations. I’m also excited about the attention that it brings to the foster care system. While this story is fictional and it is definitely a TV show, I hope that it does start conversations in families about the hundreds of thousands of children in the United States that are in the foster care system. There are so many children that are unable to be with their biological families, either permanently or temporarily, and we as Christians have the privilege and the opportunity to open our homes up to them.
Sarah: The new series is about three tweens living their dreams. As a new mom and as someone who went through your own challenges as a tween, what does it mean to play a mentor and to be a part of this series for young girls today?
Jamie: It’s crazy because I was not only a few months pregnant while shooting the show, but my husband and I found out that we would be having a girl while we were on set and in between filming scenes! I was so excited to continue filming the show because it’s incredible to be a part of something that is so imperative for young girls. In Titus 2, it talks about the older women being intentional about the way we invest in younger women, and I kept thinking about this while I was on set. Whether it’s my relationship with my daughter, my character’s relationship with “The Beverlys” or even my relationship with the young actresses that play the characters in The Beverlys, I want to make sure that I am investing however I can, as I know the importance having been on the receiving end. I have an incredible mom, older sister, and awesome mentors and older friends. It’s so important that all of us, whether we are parents or not, influencers or not, recognize our calling to mentor and ability to love, encourage, and even hold accountable the people that God puts in our lives.
Sarah: Another one of the themes in this series is adoption and the importance of foster care families. Why is this something that is close to your heart?
Jamie: The first child that my parents ever brought into their home, as their own, was a school aged girl who was in their lives before my sister and I were even born. As my sister and I grew up, we had kids living with us for both short and long periods of time that we considered our brothers and sisters. It was definitely challenging when they left, but something about those experiences always caused me to continually focus on the joy of when they were there. When I was about seven years old, God put on my heart to open my home someday to children that were not my biological children. As I got older, I continued to share this message as much as I could. And now, my husband and I continue to pray and ask God when He would have us do that as a family. But whether you become a foster parent, adoptive parent, or not, there is something that we can all do. If only one family from every church in the United States were to become a foster family for one child, there would be no more waiting children in the foster care system. That family in your church or your community might be you, but it might not be! You might be the family that hosts an event to learn more about Foster Care, that offers to bake a casserole dish, or carpool with the kids to and from school once a week. It takes a village to raise a child, and I want to encourage as many people as I can to make a choice to be a part of that village.
Sarah: The series celebrates diversity. How do you hope it will inspire others (especially young girls) to embrace their uniqueness?
Jamie: Each of The Royal Beverly’s has such a unique personality, sense of fashion, and sense of style. I love the diversity of this show, and I hope that it not only encourages girls to be themselves, but to make friends with the girl at school that might be different, or to invest more in her sister’s life – even if she feels like they don’t have that much in common. Diversity is not something that simply happens when we want it to, but rather a result of intentionally stepping outside of your comfort zone with humility, honor, and an open heart. There are moments in the show that represent this from a very pure and honest place, and I hope that girls are inspired by these stories.