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 the event. In this installment, I’m chatting with Raquel “Roque” Herring, who made entertainment history as the first black female Mouseketeer and is now making waves as a powerful vocalist in the Christian music scene, recently releasing her second album, Put Your Hands in the Air. She is also set to star in the upcoming Christian film, Beyond the Shield.
Tell us the story of how you became a MMC member.
I was on Star Search. That was my initial national television opportunity. And I was there the whole season. I won 10 shows consecutively and then Best Team Vocalist and Best Team Performer. And then, I think from there my mom heard about the Mickey Mouse Club auditions. And I was living in Miami at the time, so we drove to Orlando, and I auditioned for the Mickey Mouse Club. And that was that.
What was one of the most important lessons that you got from that experience that helped you get to where you are today?
Well, of course, the training—it was just so valuable. I mean, it’s priceless. Just the media training—what to say, what not to say, and the training for the choreography and the training to communicate with fans and communicate with the media and other people. It was amazing. It was just an amazing opportunity all around to just be in such an iconic show and to be able to represent that in a positive way and keep it moving on.
I love business. I do love business. But I love entertainment, too. It’s very much together today. The biggest thing I learned—it was just so much. I wouldn’t be able to say it was just one thing. It’s just the whole package. All of it is important and all of it was just an amazing time.
Tell us what you’re doing as an entrepreneur or business person today.
Well, I think it definitely helped in the training aspects of it, just to be focused. To be focused on the goal that we’re accomplishing. For me, it was mostly what I liked, mostly concentrated on getting from that rehearsal and learning the songs, doing all that stuff, to getting in front of the people, the lights, the camera. That’s where I liked to be. That’s what the focus really taught me. You know, my mom taught me that—so to stay focused and stay committed. Today, I’m doing the same thing. I do music—I sing Christian gospel music. It’s the same thing to be focused and keep that mindset that that’s what I decided on doing and that’s what I’m going to keep doing and I’m going to promote that.
The business side of things is that I write jingles, as well. I enjoy that. Most of my clientele is online, which I love, because it gives me the opportunity to communicate online because I’ve had to become a more effective communicator—being online to make sure we have everything laid out business-wise. I mean, everyone knows what they’re going to expect from the other person and that’s what we look forward to in the end. But it also gives me an opportunity to just be creative—be creative behind the scenes. I enjoyed that, as well.
What would you say to an aspiring entrepreneur to become successful in today’s age of tech and media? Please share tips.
I think the biggest thing is marketing. You have to know how to market, really get into your customers’ or your clients’ mind, and be where they can see you. Marketing is the biggest thing on here, on this social media and the internet, like nothing is going to happen without being able to get in front of people’s faces and let them know that you’re out there because there’s so much competition. There’s so many people on it. And that’s what I would say the biggest thing is—that marketing, which I seem to have to learn to do all the time because it seems like it’s constantly changing. You’re constantly having to keep up and it moves quite fast, moves rapidly, and you have to be on top of it.
And I’m just getting into the social media. I mean, I know it’s been around for a while, and I kind of dibble and dabble in it. But I never anticipated that it would go so far and beyond, like this would be your main avenue for promoting and marketing yourself. So now I’m trying to get in it, but it’s hard because I come from that place before where you’re not really putting yourself out there so much in public. It’s not so personal as much as it is your business side of the entertainment and on stage.
That’s what it is now. It’s like sharing so much of yourself. I’m not sharing all of this! That’s what it’s become today. You know, like this is what I had to drink today. It’s hard for me to do that kind of stuff, like why does anyone want to know that? What do people really want to know? So this is the new thing. It’s amazing what it’s become.
Why is it important for you to participate in the MMC reunion event? Why would someone want to attend as a guest?
Well, first why I will attend is because it seems like a great party to me—for everyone to get together, the cast and crew throughout all the seasons to get to know each other and just socialize with each other. So that was the idea for me when I heard about it. I was like, “Yeah, I gotta be there, right?”
And then it moved beyond that. It just kept getting bigger and bigger! I knew they were bringing fans in. But for me, I guess from time to time, people would say, “Oh my gosh, I wish you guys would do a reunion. It would be so exciting.” But to see the amount of people who are excited about it, I was like, “Wow!” I had no idea that so many people watched the show, and were so excited to know us and to meet us and to kind of live that part of our lives with us, you know? So to meet the fans—and even more exciting, now we get the cast and the crew from years ago—and now we meet the fans who watched us. That’s what made it exciting to me.
Why I would tell someone to come? Because one thing, they’ve worked so hard to make this such an exciting event. I’m excited about it, just basically to get to meet everyone and socialize with each other. Find out what’s been going on in your life, what’s been happening with you and that people have families and gotten married. I don’t want to say like a high school reunion because I had never even been to mine. But it’s just amazing when you have such an iconic show with so many seasons and for everyone to come together from that time to experience this moment with each other.
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!
I don’t want to sound nuts. I’m trying to be careful. Right now, I would like to meet Warren Buffett because I have the rest of my life to prepare and keep moving forward. So I would like to meet Warren Buffett and pick his mind about what do I need to do next.
You have to know how to move it forward in this aspect of life. I like investments. I actually got my license years ago for it. I never worked for anybody, but I did go and get my license. It was the knowledge that was more important to me, and how to figure this investment thing out. And I love it. I love doing the investments. But more than anything, I love the music. And that’s what I was born to do. So I just keep doing it.