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7 Quick Facts for Actress Lisa Whelchel

Known for her role as Blair Warner on the ’80s TV show, the actress gives us her ‘Facts of Life’

TV actress Lisa Whelchel poses in front of a blue background

Courtesy of The MeTV Network

 

There’s not much Lisa Whelchel hasn’t been willing to tackle. The former star of The Facts of Life and Survivor Season 25 is now host of the MeTV network show Collector’s Call, which introduces viewers to the biggest collectors of pop-culture memorabilia in the country. But the journey for the 58-year old mother of three and grandmother of two hasn’t always been smooth. Here she shares some of those hard-earned lessons.

 

The past can serve a purpose.

Whelchel calls herself a “less-is-more” person, where “too much stuff — even just in the atmosphere — feels overwhelming.” But she appreciates the collectors she meets on Collector’s Call. "They are passionate about something, and it’s almost always tied to something in their childhood. A special feeling, or a relationship or a moment they want to keep alive — they didn’t want to let it go and resign it to their childhood.”

 

TV actress Lisa Whelchel poses in front of a pink background in the 1980s

Embassy Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Lisa Whelchel played Blair Warner on the 1980s TV show, "The Facts of Life."

You are special, too.

Whelchel was thrilled that The Facts of Life was chosen for the third installment of Norman Lear’s Live in Front of a Studio Audience in December 2021. “My initial reaction was one of incredible honor that they would cast Jennifer Aniston as Blair and the other amazing actors and actresses that they had for the episode. And then when I met them all, not really taking into consideration that they would have grown up on the show, I was geeking out about them — but they were geeking out about us. It was utterly delightful.” 

 

Opportunity will knock again.

Having stepped away from show business decades ago, Whelchel hadn’t planned on a return, but then Survivor [2012] happened. “I hadn’t decided on it. I fell into it,” she says, still sounding a little shocked about it. “I had transitioned from show business to being a stay-at-home mom. When my kids got to junior high, I started writing books, traveling and speaking.” When her “Women of Faith” speaking tour got canceled, she found her calendar filled with free time. “The former president of Women of Faith, what she always taught me — whenever we get to a fork in the road we hadn’t anticipated — is to ask ‘What does this make possible?’ ” When I asked myself this question, I realized I’d always longed to be on Survivor, but I’d never been able to — either because my kids were too little or I was always booked. I made an audition tape. After Survivor, I got a lot of offers to do other show business things. And so I thought: OK, OK. Let’s follow this trail and see how far it goes.”

 

Pleasing everyone is not a worthy goal.

Although Whelchel and her Facts of Life costars were routinely chastised for their weight during the series by both the folks behind the show and the public, she was still shocked at the vitriol when she made her TV comeback. “Survivor was the first time I had really been on television since the invention of the internet and social media, so I wasn’t prepared for so many opinions and the rejection and judgment,” she offers. “I really had to navigate that for the first time. You can’t please everybody, so somebody’s going to think you’re terrible no matter what you do.”

 

TV actresses Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields, Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn, Charlotte Rae, (Season 5, 1984) pose in front ofa brown background

Embassy Pictures/Courtesy Everett Collection

Nancy McKeon, Kim Fields, Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn, Charlotte Rae stared in TV's "The Facts of Life." (Season 5, 1984)

Life is full of surprises.

She’s an accomplished author with more than a dozen books — including her first, 2000’s Creative Correction, which has sold more than 200,000 copies. There’s also The Facts of Life and Other Lessons My Father Taught Me, The Busy Mom’s Guide series and her most recent, Friendship for Grown-Ups. But Whelchel admits that she never aspired to be a writer. “I just absolutely stumbled into it. I had a friend who was representing an author — my kids were little at that point — and she said, ‘Hey, have you ever thought about writing a book?’ And I said, ‘No, not really.’ She said, ‘Let’s meet with this publisher.’ We got to talking. He was intrigued with some of the creative ways I was homeschooling my kids. I wrote up a book proposal of how to teach kids some of the harder lessons of the Old Testament; how would that apply into everyday life. That’s not the book they ended up publishing, but it started the conversation that began my publishing career.” 

 

Parenting doesn’t stop when your kids turn 18.

In her own life, Whelchel regrets not taking more time to acknowledge the more “negative” qualities that live in all of us. This would have enabled her to parent with a little more understanding. “Like every parent, there are things I would have done differently,” she says. “I would have given them more room in a safer container to just validate what would have been the ‘quote, unquote’ negative emotions, like anger, even fear, to a degree … to just validate their humanity. They’re now 29, 30 and 31. Thankfully, though, one of the things I’ve learned is that as I grow and change and learn, it still impacts them. They are still watching me, and now they’re old enough to have those conversations with me about those things.”

 

Living your life on your terms is what’s important.

After Survivor, Whelchel found herself — at first — happily back in the Hollywood world. It didn’t last long. “I had done a few more Hallmark movies and a couple other things. Then there was a comment from the president of Hallmark at that time — he’s no longer there — to my agent that, even though the three Hallmark movies I did got great ratings, they were looking for ‘female leads that were younger and fitter.’ It was just, like, ‘Forget this. I’m too old. I don’t want to live my life counting calories. I don’t want to live my life trying not to look my age.’"


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