On her talk show, she surprised Kristen Bell by reuniting her with her high school drama teacher and it was so sweet.
Nobody recognises the importance of a passionate, dedicated teacher like Kelly Clarkson.
The singer and talk show host’s own mother was a teacher, for one thing. “We had no money, and she would put every penny on her students,” Clarkson shared on her talk show host this week. And for another, Clarkson only realised that she could sing when a teacher at her high school heard her humming a tune in the corridors and asked her to audition for the choir.
It’s why Clarkson is such a fan of Encore, the reality series hosted by Kristen Bell on Disney+’s new streaming service. The series, which brings together theatre kids of all different ages as they restage their own high school’s musical production in a week, is a heartwarming hit and a true crowd pleaser. The series hinges, Bell explained to Clarkson on The Kelly Clarkson Show, on bringing back the high school drama or music teacher who was pivotal in the production, a moment that always moves everyone involved in the episode to tears.
“I like doing projects that make people feel good,” Bell said. “That make us feel like we’re one, and we’re not fighting all the time.”
Bell added that they had thousands of applications from people just for the pilot, all of whom pledged to take time off work to re-stage their high school musicals, from Oklahoma to Annie.
“You watch two people re-introduce themselves to people they already know having shed the labels of high school, it’s electric,” Bell said. “We have people making amends, we have people that come out of the closet that were never able to tell anyone, people telling stories about why they were a bully in high school. It’s crazy beautiful, and it’s all about the human experience and I love it. I think I’m prouder of this than of anything I’ve ever done.”
The show was inspired by Bell’s own experience in theatre as a student. “The high school musical at my school was the most important thing. When we did Wizard of Oz, all the football nerds were on their knees as munchkins,” Bell recalls. “So all the math nerds and the mean girls, everybody was [there].”
In particular, Bell told Clarkson about the pivotal role that her high school teachers played in guiding her towards her career path. “I had two teachers, Miss Rashard and Mr Barnard, both of whom lit a match under my butt,” she said. “Miss Rashard especially, she was known as our drill sergeant, but I feel like it trained me to be a member of a theatre group.”
Clarkson wanted to honour the role that teachers like Rashard play in their students lives, so she invited her onto the show to reunite with Bell, along with Katie, one of Bell’s peers in her high school theatre group.
“I’m so proud of you,” Rashard said to Bell. “You inspire me so much.”
Bell grasped her former teacher’s hand as they sat beside each other on Clarkson’s couch. “It’s really emotional,” she said. “I think [a theatre teacher] is the closest thing to another parent that you have.”