With four seasons and more than 100 episodes, Jessie is one of those Disney Channel shows you can’t help but admit is a runaway hit. Starring the one and only Debby Ryan as a nanny to the Ross kids, it had every element of a classic Disney series. So how exactly did it come to be? Well, it was all thanks to the leading lady herself.
Speaking on actor Dax Shepard’s podcast, Armchair Expert, Debby explained that when The Suite Life on Deck ended and with two successful Disney Channel Original Movies under her belt, the now 25-year-old actress was ready to keep riding the Disney train with a new show. So she took it upon herself to make it happen.
“At 18, the show ended suddenly and internationally at that point, I had also launched Disney Channel Free-to-Air and I had done two films for [Disney Channel] and I produced the second one. My last one repeated better than a lot of their original airing of DCOMs and they were like, ‘I don’t know, there’s something here that works,'” Debby said. “And I was kind of the last person as the Hannah Montanas or whatever phased out and those shows ended and people were very much like, ‘I miss the old Disney, I miss classic Disney.’ And I was kind of the last person with a foot in both worlds. And at 18, [I was] too old to be the lead of a Disney show, but prime age to be a relatable, quirky authority figure.”
Literally, that’s how the idea for Jessie was first sparked! Deb then met with Disney and the rest is history.
“So my showrunner from Suite Life and I requested a meeting with the president of Disney Channel, which I guess I didn’t realize you don’t do at 18. But I put on a blazer and I was like, ‘Listen, I’m not done with you guys and I don’t think you’re done with me. We’re doing something it works, let’s do this.’ We pitched them Jessie and they loved it and it’s the first show they ever greenlit without a pilot.”
Besides starring on the show and serving as a producer, Debby also got to direct, so girl really made the most of her final years on the network. Although the show did eventually come to an end, Debby and the entire cast and crew are forever proud of the series and impact its left.
“We would get buzz that it did significantly well, it premiered very well, it stayed really well, the re-runs did well, on Netflix it was the most watched kids’ show even four years after it went away. And so it had a lot of great success,” Debby said.
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