When Chip and Joanna Gaines first started shooting “Fixer Upper” in 2013, their four kids went along for the ride.
“There were seasons where we were really dragging babies to some extent into scenes to try to create this thing or that thing,” Chip says. “If the kids aren’t interested in that, or their hearts aren’t in it, we create a real tension inside our family, and this isn’t going to work for us long term.”
It was part of the reason they decided to quit the series: “There was no drama … Jo and I just realized we needed a break from this reality, and we needed to step back.”
So last year marked the end of the HGTV series that turned the Waco, Texas, couple into household names. It also marked the birth of their fifth child, son Crew, and the couple’s plan for a new cable network with HGTV parent Discovery, due in summer 2020.
“The kids are growing like weeds,” Joanna says. “Drake is now 14, and I’m joking with Chip he’s going to be taller than him in a year.” (Emmie Kay, Duke and Ella Rose are growing, too.)
So now that they’re older, how will the younger Gaineses figure into their parents’ plans to star in at least one new show that more broadly follows their burgeoning empire?
“We talked about this together,” Joanna says. “The kids are very aware of what this is and why we’re doing it. If the kids want to be on it, they’ll be on it. They’re just all getting to this beautiful age where they’re starting to figure out what they love, what they’re passionate about. When they were younger, when we were doing ‘Fixer,’ it was natural for them to be on my hip. As they got older, we just never wanted to force the scene, we always told our kids, ‘If you want to be part of this, we’ll put a mic on you.’ If the kids want to do it, we would gladly welcome it, but we’ll leave it up to them.”
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The early report: “They’re excited for Mommy and Daddy,” Chip says.
“They’ve got show ideas!” enthuses Joanna.
“We thought they’d pre-emptively say, ‘Oh, man, do we have to?’ ” Chip says. Instead, “they were like, ‘Aah, we’re excited.’ The next thing we know, they were writing in their little journals show ideas, and they were drawing little cartoon characters that would represent ideas. It just was a real encouraging moment for Jo and I as parents to realize these kids are resilient, and they enjoy this more than we sometimes give them credit for.”
So about those ideas …
“We’re brainstorming with food,” Joanna says. “I’m always coming up with these cooking shows in my mind. I never know if it will come to fruition, but my kids do the same thing; when we’re in the kitchen, we pretend like it’s a show.”.
Now that he’s older, “Drake likes the production side, editing,” while “Ella is our little business girl, always thinking about ways to (feature) kids and entrepreneurialism. There’s a notebook full of ideas. Who knows what we’ll come up with, but I love that their minds are spinning.”