Chip and Joanna Gaines have garnered a vast fanbase that began in their “Fixer Upper” days and has only grown since they expanded their Magnolia empire to a encompass a network and streaming app, a magazine, a collaboration with Target and a giant outdoor shopping and recreation center in their hometown of Waco, Texas. While the fanbase is interested in every piece of Chip and Jo’s lives, when it comes to their political beliefs, the Gaineses would prefer to not make the “isolating” choice of picking a side.
“We want people to not think of us as right wing or left wing or moderates or versions of those concepts in between, and just look at us as human beings that are looking out for the betterment of other human beings,” Chip said. “And then, obviously, if you literally narrow it down to the political thought, how do we do that in a courageous way that brings us all together as opposed to our current model, which is, how do you do it in this isolating model that forces us all to basically take sides, you know. Oh, you get in your corner, you get in your corner and we meet in the middle to duke it out.”
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“The value to me is even more powerful now in real conversations and real face-to-face interactions,” Joanna adds. “I may not agree with you, but let’s go do this thing together ’cause there was just a flood. Those are the moments when humanity is at its best, when we realize we got to work together to create something beautiful on the other side of this. Sometimes in that social media bubble, it feels like all is lost and we’re screwed. I really believe in humanity and I believe there are people that are like, let’s be peacemakers. Let’s figure out how to bridge this gap so we can actually get some shit done.”
During a talent dinner hosted by the Gaineses at the Silos in Waco, following Magnolia Network’s streaming launch last year, Chip says he looked around the grounds and thought, “Oh my gosh, you’ve never seen a larger group of Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Every skin color. There were able bodies and less-than-able bodies.”
The Gaineses says they have found their Magnolia Network stars in many “organic” ways, including people they met on the street and via social media. And the couple, particularly Joanna — who was born to a white American father and a Korean mother — is hellbent on making sure Magnolia Network talent, or “storytellers,” as the Gaineses call them, doesn’t just come from different professional backgrounds, but different racial, cultural, political and gendered demographics, as well.
“The gift of growing up different that you really get is empathy,” said Joanna, who writes about being bullied as a child for her race in her new book “The Stories We Tell.”
“Your perspective is a little different,” she added. “Do we all have to agree on everything? No. Do we need to understand and value and respect others? Yes, of course! The network has been such a reward in so many ways because we didn’t set out and say, ‘We need this, this and that,’ we didn’t do that. Sometimes you feel like you’re a prop because you hit that box. I never want anyone to think, ‘Oh, I was checking a box for them.’ That makes me sick, and so for me, it truly has to be organic.”
“It’s amazing, when you’re looking and listening, it’s a miracle that in your wake, there’s diversity and there’s difference of opinion and all the things,” Chip added.
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