The Mousekeeters are finally coming home for a grand reunion to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the show’s debut episode and the 90th birthday of Mickey Mouse himself. Featuring cast from all seven seasons of the Mickey Mouse Club, #MMC30 is organized and produced by alumni Dale Godboldo, who is behind the Always In The Club Foundation, and Chasen Hampton in support of Give Kids The World Village, and onePULSE Foundation. Hosted by Joey Fatone, the event is happening on May 18-19 at Walt Disney World® Resort in Orlando, FL.
I recently had the pleasure of sitting down for a series of interviews with some of the Mousekeeters who are going to be part of such an historic event. For this installment, I am chatting with Jason Minor, who many would remember Jason for his 3-year stint on the show as a regular cast member of Seasons 3, 4, and 5. Here he talks about his experience and takeaways as part of the iconic show and how they contribute to his success today.
Tell us the story of how you became a MMC member.
I originally auditioned when I was 9 or 10. I lived in Maryland and would travel back and forth to New York for different auditions. I’m not a big guy and I definitely wasn’t a big dude at 9 or 10. So the original one came through and they’re like, “Yeah, you know what? Maybe you’re just not ready yet.”
I was fortunate enough to then do two national tours with different shows. In one of them, Matt Casella, who was the casting agent at the time, called my manager and was like, “Hey, you know what? It’s been two years. We’re hoping Jason might have hit puberty. So did he grow at all? Is he ready?” So I did the casting call out of Dallas while I was on the road doing a show, and the next thing I knew, a few months later, they said, “Hey, we want you to come to Orlando to do a screen test.”
I think that was sometime before Thanksgiving of that year. The show I was on went to Broadway when they called and said, “Hey, we’d like you to start in season 3, and oh, by the way, it starts in early January.” I thought, “Well, dang, I just got to Broadway!”
But man, I did all that and I was super excited. And that’s kind of the short history of how I eventually got there. I was super excited then, and looking back at it now, it’s kind of a cool time in my life.
What was one of the most important lessons that you got from that experience that helped you get to where you are today?
I would say, first and foremost—and I don’t mean this in a difficult way—I learned how to ‘protect the shield,’ so to speak. To protect not only the image of Disney when we were there as kids, but also my own image. How to build that brand as I went on through the rest of high school and into college and doing other things such as that. How to have business conversations as a young person to understand that side, meaning negotiations and not negotiations—you know, who to trust, who to glean other ideas from, and when to just sit back and listen. So from there, in my opinion, it really helped build a business understanding beyond the creative side. To understand that to survive, you need to be able to diversify your talents—whatever you’ve been given beyond artistic talents—to further some type of career, whatever that is, in the future.
Tell us what you’re doing as an entrepreneur or business person today.
I’m kind of separate creatively from everybody else right now. I’m a wealth manager for a small company called Janney Montgomery out of Philly, even though I reside in the ‘deep south,’ so to speak.
What I can say is, from that experience, it led me to a whole bunch of different avenues, both creatively and business-wise. I was in a band for a while with Blaine Carson—I called him just ‘Carson.’ I did that and traveled and, again, had the opportunity to get in front of people, to learn things and to be comfortable on stage, both live and on film. It allowed me to move forward in what I do and how I communicate with people.
Truth be told, I use it as kind of a talking point when people ask what I have done in the past and how that has shaped my future. So it was a huge step, both creatively and independently, from that side of me to where I am today.
What would you say to an aspiring entrepreneur to become successful in today’s age of tech and media? Please share tips.
The one word I would always use—and I use it with kids when I sit down and talk with kids—is HUSTLE. Never stop hustling. And I don’t mean that in a derogatory way whatsoever. What I mean is as soon as you slow down and stop, somebody else, no matter what you’re looking to do, is working harder than you are. And if you sit on your laurels, it won’t get you where you want it to be. So I tell everybody that you’ve got to consistently hustle and understand that great rewards come to those who put in the hard work.
I think you’ve got to get to a point where you have to find balance. I mean, when you’re building your business—whatever it is, any type of business—it takes a lot of effort on the front end. But I think hard work on the front end will then allow you to live the way you want to live. Hopefully, you can find comfort in knowing, “I built something and I like it and I want to share it with others in whatever way that is.”
It’s time to spend time with those who have been with you along the way, and find people that have that same passion that you have. But you also have to know how to step back and enjoy it while you’re doing it, so that you don’t become the person who only ever cares about picking up the phone, not worrying about the people or environment around them that they’re affecting.
Why is it important for you to participate in the MMC reunion event? Why would someone want to attend as a guest?
Well, first of all, the importance to me relates to my earlier answer about the front end, and that is to be able to communicate with everybody face to face, as opposed to via text or Facebook or Instagram or Snapchat. I mean, to sit down and press palms and give hugs to everybody.
I think the nostalgia of what it was is another thing. I’ve been fortunate to meet people over the years when I was traveling and performing who would say, “Oh my gosh, I remember seeing you on the Mickey Mouse Club when I was a kid, and you have no idea how that affected my life and made me think I could do whatever I wanted to do, didn’t matter what background I came from.” So I think that the awesomeness to come down and see it and be a part of it has a lot to do with having those conversations that show, hey, we’re real people.
You know, we were kids, just like everybody else was. We just got ridiculously blessed to be on such a cool show and have such an awesome opportunity as teenagers. So to come down and be a part of the reunion and ask the same questions or different versions of them—or maybe me answering your questions—burn a different type of question that somebody else wants to ask.
We’re going to be there. We’re going to be in their face. We’re going to share that experience with them, hopefully, and they enjoy the entertainment value of that, in addition.
Outside the world of Disney and the MMC, who is the one person you’d like to meet someday? You never know who might be seeing this!
Gosh, you know, I haven’t been asked that question in so long. I’m usually asking other kids that, and mine have always been historical figures.
Entertainment-wise, I would love to meet Quincy Jones or Berry Gordy. I think their influence on music and the people who they met and built up, both from a marketing and a talent standpoint… I would just love to pick their brains one day and say [to Berry Gordy], “Hey, when you saw any of the acts—Michael and the Jackson Five, Smokey Robinson, all those kind of guys—what stood out? Was it their work ethic? Was it just their God-given talent? What was it?”
And to Quincy Jones: “So you took on some of these [acts] who were already successful. How did you break into it to make them think, ‘Hey, I can take you to a whole different level from where your success already is.’ How did you communicate that? Was it your God-given talent that had them think, ‘Gosh, we need to collaborate?’ Or was it just how you could read people? I’m fascinated with the immense, God-given talent that people have, and I just want to understand how you communicate to others who are super creative and say, ‘Look, I can take you to a different place, whether you want it to be creative, or you want it to be popularity—whatever that is.” I’ve always been fascinated to meet the two of them.