Mickey and the gang say hi, hi, hi. The new members of Club Mickey Mouse, which launched on Disney Digital Network last September, are welcoming former Mouseketeer JC Chasez as a mentor for their upcoming back-to-school special, beginning with a music video that debuted Friday morning.
Chasez was a member of the legendary 1990s Mickey Mouse Club, a group of talented youngsters that included the likes of two NSYNC members (Chasez and Justin Timberlake), Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, and more.
With the reboot of their beloved show as Club Mickey Mouse, a digital- and social-first variety program, Disney gathered a new crop of talent to create content for platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
Despite these innovations, there’s always a need for some good old-fashioned advice, which is what Chasez brought to the new class when he joined them for the back-to-school special, sitting down for a mentoring session and making a cameo as Principal Chasez in their music video.
Ahead of the new special, EW called up Chasez to chat about his time in the Mouse Club, what it meant to him personally and professionally, and whether he’d be up for a ’90s Mouseketeer reunion.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: How did you get the ask to return to the Mouseketeers, and was it an automatic yes?
JC CHASEZ: It was an automatic yes. Basically, it just boiled down to a phone call. We knew when the new Mouse Club had come out, but my manager called and said, “Hey, they would love to have you pop in and do a piece with them.” I was more than happy to do it.
What does the Mickey Mouse Club mean to you, both personally and professionally?
Personally, I have to say, it’s one of the greatest experiences of my life. When you’re a young teenager, you’re still trying to find yourself and find your footing in the world. Because I was a part of this show, it gave me the opportunity to meet other people that were like-minded, who had dreams and aspirations outside of their hometowns. It made me more comfortable with myself and who I was in that moment.
Professionally, I couldn’t have asked for a better group of people to be around. Not only was I surrounded by talented cast members, but the people that Disney put in place around us to really help us be better and get better and grow as artists, it was incredible. It was a wonderful learning experience.
You’ve mentored the new Mouseketeers: What does it mean to be a mentor, and what’s some of the advice you gave them?
When they told me they wanted me to pop back in and to meet these young people, I was excited because, for me, the best part about being on the show when I was young was being around my castmates. And the enthusiasm we had and the bond we created and shared. So I wanted to meet them. I wanted them to know that we’re rooting for them. We want to see them succeed.… From a personal standpoint, [I wanted] to say, “Hey, enjoy this moment. It was a wonderful time for me, and I hope it can be a wonderful time for you.”
Was there a similar mentor to you when you were in the club? Maybe one of the original Mouseketeers?
When I came in to be a part of the show, the show had already been established. I came in on the fourth season. Some of the more veteran cast members that had already been there welcomed us with open arms. You get to play pretend and entertain people, and there’s not many things that are more fun than that. The previous cast members that we met made it easy for us to feel comfortable right away.
You also taped a music video with the new class. What was that experience like? Do you have a favorite memory from shooting it?
Outside of just the sit-down and conversation with the club members, I did a small little bit where I was essentially the principal of their school. I watched some of their performances while they were shooting it, and a couple of the club members came by while I was taping my bit, and it’s nice having that camaraderie. Letting them know that I’m there for them. I had a good time doing that.
Are there things you noticed that are very different about this generation’s iteration of the show than yours — whether it was a change you thought was cool or something you wish had stayed the same?
Everything’s got to evolve. Our version of it was certainly not exactly the ’50s version. When I worked on the iteration of the club that I was on, we were covering the Top 40 stuff. We were singing the songs that were popular at the time. With these young people, they’re actually content creators, which I think is very impressive. They’re willing to put themselves out there and literally make it up from scratch at times. That’s really a testament to the kind of talent that these young people have.
What do you think the legacy of the Mickey Mouse Club on the whole is? And why is it important to keep its flame burning in today’s media landscape?
The legacy of the Mouse Club is a very rich and strong one. You can’t really deny the fact that it was a big influence on the ’50s. Early on, it was one of the biggest pieces of entertainment that people were taking in. Then when you look at the cast from the ’90s, the impact that the cast members have on society today in the world of entertainment. They have a big role in how people are entertained, and that legacy is one we’re very proud of.
When you looked at myself or Justin or Keri Russell or Ryan Gosling or whoever it was at age 12 and 13, at those times, you see a young talented person, but you don’t know their trajectory. It’s going to be a curious thing to see what these young people in the new club evolve into, and some of them might go on to be stars. I’m proud of all the castmates I worked with and everything they’ve done and everything they do today, regardless of what it is. I’m curious to see what these people do as well.
Britney Spears previously said she would be up for a Mouseketeers reunion. Is that something you’d be open to?
The club members I came up with, I consider them friends for life. So if anybody wants to meet me anywhere, I’m always down. It’s a matter of when, where, and schedules. Everybody’s leading busy lives, but those people will be my friends forever. They will always have my support.