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The 700 Club

Former Disney Star Fills Void Left by Fame

Tim Smith - 700 Club Producer

Jennifer McGill was a shining star on “The New Mickey Mouse Club”. She had already won many pageants and talent competitions as a small child. Then at eleven, she auditioned, with thousands of other eager kids, to be a Mouseketeer.

“Our phone was in the kitchen and so everybody could hear my mother's reaction wherever you were in the house,” remembers Jennifer. “We were both jumping up and down and screaming and I'm like, ‘Mom, really, really? What does this mean?’ We didn’t even know what it meant. We just knew I got the job. We didn't understand that it was going to be a whole life change, that we were going to move to Orlando, that this was going to be a job that really would last over seven years.”

Throughout those seven years on the show, Jennifer performed with several budding stars, such as Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake, and Ryan Gosling.

“My favorite little guy was Justin. And I can call him little because we're about three years apart and when I met him he was probably a foot shorter than I was.  He was thirteen and I was sixteen.”

During high school, and her last years on the show, Jennifer began to experience the cruel realities of show business.

“Production had secretly asked me not to gain any more weight. And that really did traumatize me. Both in the moment, but also over time, I couldn't let go of this idea that I wasn't as valuable because I didn't look like the other girls. And I started understanding that in this particular show biz world, it didn't matter how well I sang, or maybe even how cute my face was, if my body did not measure up to this standard that all these other girls were meeting, I had a problem, and over the years, that did not go away.”

Jennifer had been a Christian since she was eight years old and never had her faith in God tested before.

“When I was coming out of high school and going into college, I knew God loved me and I journaled a lot about my hopes and dreams and how I had faith that God had things under control.  But I wasn't recognizing the negativity in my life as lies.  I thought it was true. Sometimes I'd hear from my manager, ‘Can you lose a size?’ or ‘Can you lose 20 pounds?’  And I'm thinking, ‘Gosh, I'm 21 and this is the smallest I've ever been.’ I just, at that point, thought that He was the big God and He had a lot of stuff going on, and maybe He wasn't working on this right now. Maybe it had to wait, or maybe it wasn’t going to happen. I had a lot of doubt.”

That doubt and low self-esteem continued, but Jennifer still pursued a career as a recording artist. Producers rejected her, telling her she ‘sounded too old’ or that she was ‘too articulate’.

“It's just the craziest thing, that you go get educated and you work on your craft and then you're told that you're kinda too good at stuff - to be a pop artist. I mean, what does that say about pop artists?”

Jennifer found work in musical theatre. She thrived on the live performances.

“I was addicted to the attention of an audience. I was addicted to the attention of the world that I didn't know how to get. But then when we walked off the stage I would just start questioning, ‘Well, was my dress slimming enough? How did the other girls do?’ When I went home my addiction switched to food and men. I craved male attention. I craved ice cream and chips. And I would yo-yo both romantically and physically. And I just could not make myself happy.  

“So, If I couldn't do it in the public eye, I was going to go out in my private life to the bars and become a rock star. So alcohol happened. And for the first time when I drank, I felt more confident and I felt more relaxed and then more and more giving myself away happened. And so it was really just me and the world for a time. And during my darkest times when I was making all of my choices and really not listening to God at all, and not caring really what happened to me and thinking that I was dead inside, I met a man and he asked me to marry him and I said ‘Yes’ just because he asked.”

Six months later, she found out he was already married to another woman. Jennifer had the marriage annulled.

“That was the wakeup call. I was embarrassed that I was so unhappy and so depressed and I had married a married man and I'm 30 and I settled, and I did it wrong. That was the moment or the moments where I realized I was a shell of Jennifer. And all of the original purpose and reason why God made me started flooding back. It's like I could hear Him calling to me again. And I think it’s because I had let so much go. I think I had just cleared so much, and isolated myself to the point where all I could hear was Him.

“And so I got down on my knees and I said, ‘Lord, I've done everything wrong. I've chosen poorly, I have gotten myself into this mess. This is my fault, this is not anybody else's, my responsibility. I do not ever want to make a decision without you again.’ And I said, ‘I give my heart back to you and I'm not going to ask you for anything but to rescue me from this situation and put me into somewhere that I can heal, I can get closer to You and I can have a job that glorifies You.’ I didn't ask to sing, I didn't ask for some sort of superstar, anything. I said, ‘You know, I'll go anywhere and serve food or serve others however I need to, as long as You're in the center of my life.’ It was that simple.”

After her decision, Jennifer knew it was time to make some other changes in her life.

“Very quickly I left where I was living. I moved to Orlando, I was among friends, I was with my dad.  I mean, I was taken care of and within a month I had a job at a church and a job with Holy Land Experience. What I love about where God placed me right after I rededicated my heart to him is that I got to be in a familiar place I used to call ‘the stage.’  And now I call ‘the platform.’”

Today, Jennifer’s platform is her new music. Her debut album is entitled “Unbreakable”.

“This whole album is about restoration, about healing and power, and strength through the love of God and how you are not alone. He is with you on the battlefield, spiritually. And if we can just tap into that and believe that and have that faith, you're on your way to an unbreakable life too, with God.”

Jennifer remarried in 2016. She and her husband Jeff live in Tennessee. Jennifer still loves to perform, and she loves to share what Jesus Christ did for her.

“I don't think it was a mistake that my first love was singing. And I think that I distorted it and I allowed the world to distort that dream for most, if not over half of my life. And Jesus gave my dreams back to me. Jesus brought the music back to my life. But I have my joy back too because of Jesus.”

You can learn more about Jennifer McGill and the Unbreakable Project at her website, and find her on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram

Guest Name / Person Interviewed or Featured in Article or Video: 
Jennifer McGill
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