#54 – Jennica McCleary: Disney’s Own Winnie Sanderson

In This Episode

“For years I was referring to myself as a Swiss Army Knife of talent,” says Jennica McCleary.

Artists often say, “and then one thing led to another,” but what does that mean? Jennica McCleary is a Bette Midler impersonator based in Orland, Florida. Her incredible story of how she became Walt Disney World’s go-to Winnifred Sanderson is an inspirational one for the ages. Also getting the blessing from the bombastic, austentatious, and Divine Miss M ain’t so bad either. 

“Honey, if you sing — you’ll make money. Good luck,” says Midler to McCleary. 

McCleary is an actress, burlesque performer, producer, and Bette Midler impersonator who also happened to survive Breast Cancer. A hard worker, McCleary found herself more upset at having to cancel or reschedule gigs in order to get treatment. What are the lessons in this? How does this help an artist take time for themselves and discover what’s important? What are the expectations we put on ourselves? 

Her Winnie Sanderson is the gift that keeps on giving — and it’s all because McCleary showed up to an audition she knew she was perfect for. In this episode, we hear an UNHEARD story of how the casting process with Disney works. We also unpack the importance of being specific with one’s career, even with choosing which auditions to attend. Plus, we dish on rumors regarding Hocus Pocus 2!

“Being a mimic is hard,” says McCleary. “There’s expectations that people have. There’s expectations that people have with Winifred. And you’ve got to find the way to make who you are as a performer work in that while still giving them those nuances that they want.”

That’s not it — McCleary is bringing her show Winnie’s Rock Cauldron Cabaret to The Green Room 42 in NYC for an incredible and highly anticipated Halloween celebration on October 31st at 7pm and 9:30pm. This performance is going to be epic, so make sure you buy tickets at https://thegreenroom42.venuetix.com/show/details/NZG2rfezEBrSrVmMKxTm/1635721200000

A classically trained Singer/Dancer/Actor who also dabbles in Burlesque, Wig Design, and Choreography, Jennica McCleary is best known for her work as a Bette Midler Tribute artist. In addition to her self-produced shows Divine Deception and Winnie’s Rock Cauldron Cabaret, Jennica originated Winifred Sanderson at Disney’s Magic Kingdom production ‘Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular’ 2015. Her Regional Theatre credits include Fun Home, Jekyll & Hyde, Sweeney Todd, and Cabaret. Jennica has also worked with Legends in Concert and Pattycake Productions, and been seen on The Freeform Network, MTV, The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon and Comedy Central’s Upright Citizen’s Brigade. 

Bette Midler Tribute Artist, Jennica McCleary, originated Winifred Sanderson at Disney’s Magic Kingdom production ‘Hocus Pocus Villain Spelltacular’ 2015 (a now viral video) in Orlando, FL. She has worked with Legends in Concert and Pattycake Productions and has been featured MTV, VH1, Entertainment Tonight. She was also featured in The Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Bash on Freeform as well as Freeform’s Halloween Road. She is thrilled to have conjured Winnie’s Rock Cauldron Cabaret, a fan-fiction style concert, while battling breast cancer, to celebrate everyone’s inner magical badass witch.

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