Chip and Joanna Gaines say they aren’t immune to the criticism they’ve faced in the public eye.
The Fixer Upper two are finally launching their much-touted Magnolia Network, July 15 on Discovery+, and while their empire expands, the spotlight on them grows — and so does the judgment. In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, they discuss some of their recent controversies — and their handling of them.
“Sometimes I’m like, ‘Can I just make a statement?’” Joanna said, with the outlet reporting she teared up as she spoke. “The accusations that get thrown at you, like you’re a racist or you don’t like people in the LGBTQ community, that’s the stuff that really eats my lunch — because it’s so far from who we really are. That’s the stuff that keeps me up.”
The controversies included the lack of same-sex couples on Fixer Upper. That led to reports that their church is anti-gay, with a pastor who is against same-sex marriage and for conversion therapy. Then in May, it was reported they supported his sister Shannon Braun, a school board candidate, who is against anti-critical race theory.
The pair didn’t comment on those headlines as they played out — and told THR they prefer to be judged by their actions. They spoke about diversity and inclusion with their own network, with it being noted some shows have stars that are people of color and that there’s at least one show with an openly queer star, but nothing exactly ground-breaking.
“As an American white male, it’s hard to be perfectly diverse,” Chip offered. “In our own company, we’ve got nearly 700 employees, and one of our biggest passions is making this group represent all people.”
The article also talked about how it’s often overlooked that they are a mixed-race couple. Joanna’s mother emigrated from Seoul, South Korea, in 1972 and married her Caucasian father. Joanna, who’s used her platform to call attention to the anti-Asian violence in the U.S., recalled harassment they faced as she was growing up in Kanas and Texas.
“My mom is so tough, but with one look or comment, I would just see her shut down,” Joanna said of Nan. “That’s why she didn’t know how to help me when I would come home and say, ‘So-and-so called me this.’ It was also happening to her.”
Joanna added, “Growing up as half-Asian, half-Caucasian, I get what that feels like to not be accepted and to not be loved. That’s the last thing I want anyone to ever feel.”
The Gaineses, who have five children, said that they’ve reached a point that the attention on them has led them to pull back on what they share on social media, which sees them with 18 million combined followers on their personal Instagram alone — and that’s not including Magnolia and Magnolia Network.
“It’s like you’re always going to make a lot of people mad, and you’re always going to make a lot of people happy,” Joanna said. “I don’t think as humans we’re meant to carry that kind of weight.”