The goal of the show is to promote better living through meaningful life lessons – both Marci’s and her guests – and to help the members of her audience move forward with their dreams and aspirations.
The mother of teens Matt, 18, and Grace, 16, Hopkins has spent most of her career working in television and takes great pride in her nurturing family life, extensive heart-felt philanthropic efforts, and, of course, her relevant talk show, which she launched three years ago, and kept going despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Among her recent celebrity guests were Suzanne Somers, John Stamos, Patricia Heaton and Candace Cameron Bure. All of them were willing to candidly talk to Hopkins about their own struggles as a way to help others.
Other Wake Up with Marci guests include everyday people who have lived through hardships and are now living triumphant lives, along with authors, educators, wellness specialists, industry leaders – those at the top of their fields who inspire, empower, teach us, and help us to move forward.
“What I have found through my journey as host and creator of Wake Up with Marci, which launched three years ago, is that there are so many stories of hope,” Hopkins says. “So many are willing to tell their story with the intention of helping others. I love that each of my guests help to inspire and empower us!”
Here is an in-depth look at Marci Hopkins and the gift of her talk show, Wake Up with Marci.
Marci, what do you love about Wake Up with Marci?
Marci Hopkins: First of all, I love the guests that I have had on the show and their authenticity. It’s a gift to use my platform to spread inspiration and empowerment through others triumphs. I appreciate that my guests share the same passion of wanting to help others. It is honestly so fulfilling to be able to share someone else’s story and spread hope to others for change.
Do you remember when the first episode aired?
Yes. It was December 18, 2018. My first guest was Iliana McGinnis. She’s a friend of mine who lost her husband on 9-11. She shared her story of hope and how she pulled out of such a traumatic time.
What were your initial expectations?
My expectations for the show were to make a difference in others’ lives. I launched sharing stories of hardship and transformation, to spread hope. That was how I started the show and has remained my mission. Through my healing journey and transformation, I began to live my happiest life. I had moved from the darkness to the light. I was sexually abused; my parents were alcoholics and I coped with my trauma by drinking. I just celebrated 6 years of sobriety, live in joy, and knew I wanted to give that gift to others. The response from others has been overwhelming.
I love your approach to hosting your show – your heart and passion shows through with every episode.
Thank you. Every show has a story of hope, celebrity inspiration, education and resources. We all have a story, but the inspiration is how we got through it. I have specialists and industry leaders to educate us and provide resources so we can start putting our lives into action. When you share your truth, the healing begins. I want to help others to know happiness and healing are possible. It’s so important to know we are not alone.
I wholeheartedly agree.
Even just, like you said, how did you get out of bed. I like to do a lot of shows about recovery because it’s so important. Right now, especially during COVID, drinking has elevated tremendously. But what does it look like? What is a bad habit? What is addiction? And how do you start making that change? My guests come on and share, I think to myself, ‘you think your story is bad?’ They share their story, and then you see the lives that they’re living today through recovery and a mindset change. It is incredible the gifts that you’re given in this life. When you get a second chance it’s what you do with it.
I was a mom and I had a life that looked like I had everything. But, in fact, inside I was dying. I hated myself. Everyone else could have been envious of what they saw, but the reality was I was a broken person. All I knew to do was cope with alcohol. When I finally hit my rock bottom and started making that change, I did it for myself first but then for my family. Now I’ve been able to give this incredible life to my family and to myself. And now to others.
As a noted broadcaster and business woman, what is your definition of success?
Success is learning through failures. We’re going to have the stumbling blocks, but the success is really what you learn from it. Then you just keep moving forward. Being successful is moving forward. It’s not being number one at the game, it’s about perseverance and continuing on what really drives you and makes you happy. Success is living in joy.
You have a book coming out?
Yes, I do. Chaos to Clarity: Seeing the Signs and Breaking the Cycles.
I recently received the final edit and it has gone to the publisher. So, I’m hoping that the book will come out in March of 2022.
I’m sure it has a lot of the themes and a lot of the things we’re already speaking about, but can you sum it up?
Chaos to Clarity is a memoir; a self-help book. I share my experiences for the reader to consider their own. This book paves a new path in recovery with an educational approach for the reader to learn how to see the signs and break the cycles in their own life. It is a guide for healing from your past, making amends in relationships, walking in faith, and creating your most fulfilling life.
I share my story of trauma and how I moved through sexual abuse and alcoholism to now living my best life. I share how I transformed, broke generational cycles and recognized signs from the other side. Throughout the book I help others to see the signs through my story, that they can relate to. I truly believe that we all deserve to live our happiest lives and I am proof of that, I want to share that so others are able to do the same.
Please talk about having celebrity guests.
I started having celebrities on the show to share their inspiration and stories. We look up to celebrities but they are touched by the same hardships. They are willing to be open and share their truth to help others. Even though we are on zoom it’s just two people having a real, in-depth conversation about their lives. It’s so intimate but yet it’s so public. We have the same exact mission and that is to help others with our message and story.
I agree that by sharing our stories it can be cathartic and we can help others pull out of their own troubles.
Well, that’s the thing. Something will be sparked in the audience by watching my guests. It’s so important to make a mindset change. Like I said before they realize that they’re not alone. They see that there’s hope and that someone else has gone through the same thing along with how they’ve gotten through it. And maybe they won’t go the same path but my hope is they’ll grab one or two things to help them start to make a difference in their lives.
Let’s talk about your recent guest, Hallmark leading lady Candace Cameron Bure. What was this experience like?
Well, Candace is like a ray of sunshine. She just exudes kindness. When she came on, she was talking about how she is approached all the time by different organizations to use her platform to help others, and how she would love to help all of these organizations but she has to find the ones that are important to her. As a celebrity she’s always being approached and she was approached about Skip1.org by someone that was very close to her. And how it just touched her so much. And how giving back is so fulfilling and such a gift for yourself.
Please tell me more about Skip1.org.
The idea is to help solve world hunger one ‘skip’ at a time. By encouraging donors to skip a few dollars of fast food – and other small and large items that won’t be missed – and help someone in need. The group uses its funds to build and renovate kitchens in orphanages and schools in impoverished areas. It also supports food distribution and feeding programs in places where kitchens can’t be built, and help with clean water and sustainable agricultural initiatives. It’s amazing what can happen when people Skip.
Candace recognized how difficult it is during this pandemic for anyone to find any extra money. Skip1.org is about skipping one thing, sacrificing something so you can give back. That’s why this was so important for her and to help these orphans in Uganda. I could see how passionate she is about this organization and about giving back. She really felt there is so much more in giving than there is in receiving.
What was it like having Patricia Heaton as a guest?
I loved Patricia Heaton. I felt like she was a friend. She came on and was so funny because she had her hat on and she barely had any makeup on and it was almost like we were sitting in our living room having a cup of coffee. It was two women talking about drinking, changing direction in life and finding ourselves in the next stage of our lives. She was talking about how when she had finished her projects, she had a lot of time on her hands. She noticed that her drinking had started elevating. She started drinking at lunch and when she was making dinner. These were things that she had never done.
It sounds like this was a very candid interview.
Yes, it was. I think she was very relatable because this is a story that a lot of us can identify with. We start having more time on our hands and what do we start doing? We start filling ourselves with drinking more and not being productive in our lives. She had an ‘aha’ moment, feeling like I have so much more to give in this life and I’ve got my children, I’ve got my husband and I just don’t have a clear mind anymore with the alcohol that I’m drinking. So, she put down the drink and she started moving forward in her life. Now she shares her story so openly about it to inspire others to know that they have so much more to give in this life. And to recognize that.
I know that Patricia Heaton was relatable to so many of your viewers.
Absolutely. Her story resonates with us because as we get older, we have to redefine ourselves. We have to consider what is the next chapter in our lives? A lot of women over 50 will be like ‘all right my children are leaving, now what am I going to do with my life?’ Whether she’s a celebrity or not she was dealing with the same things that so many women face. She was excited to share that she had just written and produced a film with her husband.
I know you are the loving mother of two teens. Talk about your view of parenting.
As parents we can get behind our children or hold them back because of our own fears and our own thoughts and our own beliefs. That’s something we are taught. We don’t need to hold our children back when they want to move forward. I think it’s a shame. I think it’s a shame that so many people live in this fear or they think that they should control what is happening. They think they’re doing a good thing, but are they really?
It sounds like you believe in finding your footing at any age.
Absolutely. I wanted to be a model when I was in my teens and life took me a different way. I still was in entertainment but I was scared to be in front of the camera. As you get older you become very self-aware. I was very uncomfortable. I tell you, when I got in front of the camera after 40, I was scared to death.
How do you get over those fears?
Oh my gosh, fear is so debilitating. And it keeps so many of us from moving forward. What did I do? I pushed forward, but my drinking elevated because I started using my drinking as liquid courage. Honestly, being in front of the camera was almost my demise. But then it was my savior because look at what I’m doing today.
I am hearing more wise life lessons from you.
Thanks. Once I started having a clearer mind and started with self-love that I never had before, that helped me with self-confidence and it helped me to recognize that I’m not perfect and to be okay with that. So, if I made a mistake, I just went on with it. It’s when you make it a big deal about it that you bring attention to it. I stopped doing that and the more I did it, I became more comfortable with it, more skilled at it. It’s been cathartic for me to do this and it’s just given me a strength and a self-confidence I never knew I had in me. But that was all through healing, self-healing, internal healing, and stopping with the old negative narrative.
Let’s talk about your philanthropy.
I’m on the board for the YWCA in northern New Jersey, which is dedicated to eliminating racism and empowering women and promoting peace. One reason YWCA is so important to me is they have a branch called the HealingSPACE, a domestic and sexual violence service. HealingSPACE is the only sexual violence resource in Bergen County. This important group helps with safe and secure housing, when they go to the hospital, when they need counseling and court assistance. I’m a huge fan of how the YWCA helps in the communities.
I also have the softest heart for the orphans in Uganda. They have captured my heart. There is the Kumali Orphanage in Uganda. A woman named Justina who was looking for help found me on Facebook. A few other people and myself helped to raise money for them to buy land and build a home with all of the essentials that we take for granted every day, including running water and a fully-functioning kitchen. And now they have a fully sustainable farm and clean water and it’s so amazing and inspiring to be part of this!
I am getting chills hearing about this.
I am now helping other orphanages in Jinja, Uganda. There are literally 2 million orphans in Uganda. I have about five orphanages that reach out to me daily. These are people that came from the streets of Uganda and are now helping other orphans. It’s heartbreaking because they are in such dire need right now, especially during COVID-19. They have nothing. When they get sick, they have no help. I’m individually helping these orphanages, but I am working towards starting The Wake Up with Marci Foundation.
I see their joy when we can offer them help and that is incredibly rewarding. My passion is to help these children and I hope to get there in person next year.
If I gave you a weekend with no phones and no work, how would you spend them? How would you chill out?
One of my favorite things to do is be in nature, whether it’s going hiking, being at the beach, exploring something new. I would want to be able to use that time for an experience. Whether it’s with my family or friends, because I find that to be the most fulfilling. Of course, some rest and good food in there.
What are you most looking forward to, both personally and professionally, in the coming year?
Personally, it’s really traveling with my kids, my family. During the summer we always take a big trip together. My son is now in college so he will be away from home, and my daughter is going to be a high school junior next year. So, it’s about taking advantage of our summers, whether it’s traveling locally or internationally. I really look forward to those times with my family.
Professionally, I’m looking forward to releasing my new invention that’s coming out in 2022 called “Carssentials.” That’s a play on your car essentials; an organizer for your car. I’m looking forward to launching my book to help people on a broader platform. I’m hoping to take my show nationally to help more people and spread the message of others.
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