Hello Jack! The Kindness Show

Co-Creators Jack McBrayer & Angela Santomero talk with us about their new show, aimed at preschool kids, and focusing on being kind. It’s called Hello Jack! The Kindness Show and streams on Apple+

Interviewed for Risen Magazine

Risen Magazine: We have been loving the show! Jack, why don’t you start a little bit and tell me about how the idea came up.

Jack McBrayer: Well, the idea really came from a very personal place where I was just sensing in the world that grownups were treating each other with what I felt to be a lack of compassion and a lack of civility and a lack of kindness. And it made me think about when in our lives we learn these lessons. So I thought about my preschool days, my very early childhood days and the programs that I would watch. So Mister Rogers’ neighborhood was a huge influence for me back then. And I thought about the messages that he conveyed there. And I was like, “How can we bring these feelings back? How can we remind people of how to behave?”

RM: Angela, I know you’ve been involved with Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood, which is a huge hit in our household too, and Blue’s Clues. So talk about coming on board and co-creating this with Jack.

Angela Santomero: It was so exciting. It was serendipitous when we met on Zoom. It was like meeting someone I’ve known for a long time, right? And that feeling of fan-girling over Fred Rogers, and we were bonding over that idea and what it would be like today in the sense of that kindness curriculum, right? That it’s the foundation of everything. And how do we tell stories with kids at home that can really showcase that level of foundation? And just the idea started sparking right from there.

RM: Jack, I think you’re perfect to kind of bring the kids through and host them, but I love that there’s other elements as well. There’s animation and I love that there’s a problem that needs to be solved and we’re looking at the way it affects people and how to do that. Maybe talk to me a little bit about the format of the show.

JM: Absolutely. Now, my background being in comedy, there was a learning curve for me in the childhood education and development world. So I was real happy to get on board with Angela, but through that, we all acknowledge that preschoolers live in the same world that we do, how can we empower them? How can we give them agency and yet treat them appropriately and gently with things that they might be facing in their day-to-day life? Some of the problems are pretty evergreen and pretty universal, dealing with disappointment and wanting to help out the group. So it was important for me to be able to explore these messages in a child-friendly way. But thank goodness I did have Angela’s company to help me out because there’s a lot involved. There’s a lot.

RM: Angela, talking about making that transition so that the kids do understand, writing towards the kids, but then still having it be concepts that they can grasp and implement.

AS: Being in that writer’s room was really fun. There’s this feeling of you only need one person who gets you and understands you to really make a huge difference and spark and have that tipping point. And in all of our stories, Jack is that person, right? He starts the stories, but he’s also that one who will creatively problem-solve, he’ll help think with you. And having that attention to detail for any story. So for instance, we had somebody who was afraid to get on the bus for the very first time. And just stopping to ask why someone’s feeling a little anxious is also really universal and really breaking it down and kind of giving you a little bit of information, which not everybody does, right? It just inspires you in your real life to do that a little bit more, to really stop and look someone in the eye and ask them if they’re okay and then try to help. So those kinds of stories are the stories that are heartwarming and beautiful and kind of warmed our soul, what we were trying to create.

RM: Well, my kids, my daughter especially, she’s three and she stood up and was doing some of the motions. So I could tell she was understanding it. I could tell that they were excited about it. And then when we go out throughout our day, they’re able to kind of recognize areas where they can implement what they’ve seen, which is the goal, right, Jack? Talk to me a little bit about that.

JM: That’s exactly what we want. I like to be able to model these acts and words of kindness, because I want it to become second nature with our viewers. I want it to be a little more baked in. I want it to feel accessible, easy. I want it to feel fun to be kind to others. And I also want them to think about what it feels like to be the recipient of kindness. It feels good, so I really hope it just becomes second nature, muscle memory for kids.

Hello Jack! The Kindness Show is now streaming on Apple+

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