Jackie Warner Talks Back

 
 

Client Tess with Jackie WarnerAE: What I loved so much about your show was that it felt like the most realistic, authentic lesbian portrayal I've ever seen on TV.
JW:
Thank you. It is realistic because it is what we were going through at the time … and all the issues that I brought to light were the issues that I have dealt with in my life, such as my coming-out to my mother and our tenuous relationship.

AE: And boy, was that painful to watch.
JW:
Yeah, it was.

AE: I relate way too much.
JW:
What parents don't understand is that when they do that to a child, they lose a huge part of a child's involvement in their life. By the way, that third episode — I noticed a huge tide turning in terms of the effect that it had on people, and I don't mean gays and lesbians, I mean moms and straight people and Christians that were emailing me. That was very pivotal. … I read every email, and I can't respond to every email, but it certainly helps me tap into the consciousness of what's going on in the country and where I have heavy support.

AE: Where's your support?
JW:
A lot of it is from the middle part of the country, [and] of course New York and L.A. I couldn't believe how many people support me from the South and the middle part of the country. I'm blown away. I did not think we would have that.

AE: When I met you in July at a Work Out launch party you told me about the hypocrisy you noticed growing up in Ohio.
JW:
Sure.

AE: My impression of people in the South or middle states is that you have to put on this image of what's appropriate or right, that people are so constrained by that.
JW:
Very much so. I was living in fear; I was living in complete terror growing up in junior high and high school in my small town in Ohio. It was terrible. It was a constant feeling of being found out — whether something's wrong with you or that you would love every single one of your friends because of peer pressure if they knew.

AE: At what age did you know you were gay?
JW:
I knew at 14 years old, my freshmen year, one hundred percent that I was gay. I had a relationship with a cheerleader, and she was very popular, and it was like fireworks — nothing that I had felt before. When I first had a relationship with a woman was when I was 13, but at 14 I knew one hundred percent, and I remember praying over and over because my family was very religious, and I was forced to go to church every Sunday.

AE: What religion did you grow up in?
JW:
They were Southern Baptists — what a treat that is, I'll tell you. And then they were converted to Mormonism by two Mormon missionaries. So the whole family converted to Mormonism from Southern Baptists and just expected me to go along with everything, and I was very rebellious and did not. And I decided, at 15 years old, I'm pretty much finished with organized religion because it just had been so pushed down my throat, and from what I could see, so filled with hypocrisy that I read the Bible on my own, and I wasn't getting the same [laughs] interpretation. I was not interpreting things the same way as my parents were or the people in the church. Not by a long shot.

AE: What about growing up in that family made you the person you are today?
JW:
I realized that being lesbian and dealing with all this made me so sympathetic to human drama, so sympathetic to human beings. I really have an empathy for people that goes beyond what most — and I'm not tooting my own horn — it's why I'm successful in this business.

AE: I noticed that watching the show. I thought the way you dealt with Tess, your client who was over 100 pounds overweight, really showed your empathy. I didn't expect that, I suppose.
JW:
Well I don't think anybody does, because first of all I would not be a successful trainer if I didn't have that. Just training A-list clients or blah, blah, blah celebrity clients — you know, I have a passion for what I do and a very short attention span, and let me tell you, celebrities are the biggest pain in the ass ever.

AE: [Laughs.] They probably have a shorter attention span than you do.
JW:
That's true, but they're the biggest pains in the ass, and if I was trying to make a living off of just a high-end, celebrity clientele only, I would not be able to do it. These people inspire me. I have to have people that I can make a difference in their life, and I don't mean just getting a six-pack ab from a two-pack. I mean make a real difference in their life. It's what drives me.

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