Chip Gaines is opening up about how life in the HGTV spotlight was, at times, very difficult for him — and how his wife Joanna helped him through.
The Fixer Upper alums recently sat down with the media mogul to talk about their lives as business partners and parents in a Super Soul special that premieres on Discovery+ on March 13. In the exclusive clip, above, Oprah asks the couple how fame has impacted them and their decision to take a year off after their hit show ended in April 2018.
"I have discovered that fame is just, your life is the same, you're the same, and everybody has an idea of what that is, it's just more people know your name. And I think if you don't know who you are when the fame thing hits then you lose yourself," Oprah said, sitting down with the couple in the same familiar setting as her bombshell interview with Meghan Markle and Prince Harry that made global headlines this week.
"Did you all start to sense that, or did you know that you were grounded before the fame thing hit?" she asks the pair. She quickly follows up by asking if they simply "took the time off because [they] wanted to reground?"
Chip, 46, answers quickly, praising his wife of nearly 18 years: "I want to speak on Jo's behalf, because she would never say things like this, but she is so incredibly wise, so incredibly grounded — all the things that you just described, is who Joanna is."
He then adds that in the early years of the show, he found himself struggling to handle his newfound fame in the same effortless way as his wife.
"Really what happened — and was the truth for Jo and I — was it was no big deal for her, but for me to become famous, I lost a part of myself that was really… it was sad," he admits. "I would say it took me a year or two while I was still filming to try to grapple with what exactly it was that I was losing."
He adds that the year that they spent out of the public eye was a time when he and Joanna were able to "hunker down and really kind of try to unpack what it was about fame that seemed so incompatible with my personality."
In a December 2018 cover story for Cowboys & Indians magazine, Chip spoke similarly about his feelings toward fame, admitting that "toward the end of the Fixer Upper journey, I felt caged, trapped."
"TV was a funny thing for me. I'm an authentic, sincere person. So, as long as things are natural and organic, I'm in my element. But the more staged something becomes, or the more required something becomes, it boxes me up," the father of five said at the time.
"I just struggled with that environment. Especially at the end of it," he added of his reality TV journey. "The last two years, not that we don't look back on them fondly, but they were more of a job. So, something about breaking out of that has been liberating."
In August 2020, Chip and Joanna announced exclusively with PEOPLE that Fixer Upper would be coming back to TV, rebooted as Fixer Upper: Welcome Home.
"The day we wrapped our final episode of Fixer Upper, we really believed it was a chapter closed," the couple said of the series' comeback at the time. "We knew we needed a break and a moment to catch our breath. But we also knew we weren't done dreaming about ways to make old things new again."
After the show ended, the couple took on various renovation projects — from redesigning their Magnolia headquarters to overhauling a historic hotel in downtown Waco — but, they said, they missed the structure of the show that launched them to fame.
"These past few years, we've continued tackling renovations and projects, doing the work we're passionate about, but I don't think either of us anticipated how the show would become such a permanent fixture in our hearts," they said. "We've missed sharing the stories of these families and their homes with you, and we're excited to do that again very soon!"
Fixer Upper: Welcome Home was originally set to debut with Chip and Joanna's Magnolia Network last fall. However, due to Covid-19–related production delays the full season will now debut digitally on the Magnolia app on July 15, and on TV in January 2022. Four preview episodes are currently available to stream on Discovery+.
In addition to Welcome Home, the Magnolia app will offer much of the content promised on the network, including Magnolia Table with Joanna Gaines, the complete Fixer Upper library and full seasons of several of its new shows, including Growing Floret, The Lost Kitchen, Homegrown, Family Dinner and Restoration Road with Clint Harp.
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