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20200821 meg donnelly 1440
20200821 meg donnelly 1440
Photo by The Riker Brothers
Culture > Entertainment

Meg Donnelly Talks Her Burgeoning Music Career, the Importance of Taking Care of Your Mental Health & More

You might’ve recently seen Meg Donnelly’s face grace your TV screen in American Housewife or Disney Channel’s Zombies, or you might have had her debut album Trust on repeat since its release in 2019. Since her 2018 interview with Her Campus, Meg has starred in the second installment of the Zombies franchise, filmed three more seasons of American Housewife, and opened up about her struggles with anxiety on her Instagram account of more than one million followers.

Meg chatted with Her Campus about her upcoming projects, her work with the Children’s Health fund, and her advice on coping with anxiety.  

There are ‘Zombies’ (and possibly aliens) in Meg’s future

One thing’s for sure: there are a lot of theories out there about Meg’s Zombies character, Addison. The ending of Zombies 2 last year had many people thinking Addison is an alien, and while Meg could neither confirm nor deny this, she’s excited to return to Toronto to film Zombies 3. “There’s definitely going to be some new characters,” Meg says. “But that’s really all I can say for now. It’s going to be amazing to be with the family, and working with everyone again. It’s going to be so much fun.”

While Zombies 3 already received the green light, Meg’s other big project, ABC sitcom American Housewife, has yet to be renewed for a sixth season. Still, Meg and the rest of the cast are hopeful about a renewal. “We all are hoping,” Meg says. “When we finished season five, we were kind of like, ‘We honestly have no idea.’ But we’re praying and we hope so — the fans are so wonderful and so nice. So I have hope, but I don’t know,” she says. “I would love to.”

Meg hopes to hear about the fate of American Housewife sometime this month, but for now, she’s busy with Zombies 3.

She’s super passionate about music

Meg’s debut album, Trust, came out in 2019, and featured artists like Kota the Friend and 2 Milly (you know, the guy who created the Milly Rock dance move?), but Meg is far from a music novice. She was the understudy for the role of Louisa von Trapp in The Sound of Music Live!, and she’s lent her voice to just about every song produced for the Zombies films.

Meg hopes her next album, Title, will be a “more improved Trust.” 

“I’ve been working on so much music during this quarantine period,” Meg says. “Title was something that I was working on in the studio with my friends, and I just decided to put it out there because I had a lot of fun,” she says. “But it’s been such a crazy journey trying to figure out what sound I actually want.” 

Trying to figure out her sound for the new album has been a difficult, but rewarding, task. “The music that makes me me is just so all over the place,” she says. “I listen to so many genres. So, kind of finding a sound that I think really represents me has been challenging, but also so much fun. I’m really excited to see where it goes.”

While fans were treated to the voice of the original Milly Rocker on Meg’s first album, she isn’t sure who will feature on this next album. Regardless, Meg is excited for future musical collaborations and the chance to introduce new perspectives and sounds to her music.

Photo by The Riker Brothers

Musical theater was Meg’s first love 

Just a few years ago, in her 2018 interview with Her Campus, Meg mentioned wanting to “accomplish music” in ten years’ time; now, with one album out and another on the way, Meg looks at the goals she’s fulfilled as surreal. 

“It’s always been my dream to do musical theater,” Meg says. “When I was younger, I was doing it for fun. It was an after school hobby because I was terrible at sports, and I fell in love with it. So, the fact that I get to sing and then act is such a dream and so surreal. I pinch myself all the time. It’s crazy.”

But, Meg says there’s always room for backup plans. “There’s always plan B, C, D, and E,” she says, but Plan A is the one worth fighting for. “I feel like you should go for what you love first, because if you have fun doing it, you can make a living out of it,” she says. “That is just the best of both worlds. You get to be successful and you can provide for yourself. Especially when you’re young, you should try and accomplish your biggest goal. You can always have another plan just in case, but I feel like you need to do it so you don’t have any ‘what ifs,’ you know?”

Like most of us, Meg hasn’t quite reached all of her goals yet: she wants to be in a Marvel movie someday, a feat that’d be an absolute dream come true. Luckily, Meg is only 20 years old, so she has tons of time to make this dream a reality.

She’s a huge advocate for spreading mental health awareness

Meg’s been struggling with anxiety and panic attacks since she was little, but she never spoke about it with others because she felt like having anxiety was a sign of weakness. It wasn’t until Selena Gomez admitted to struggling with anxiety that Meg began to feel less alone in her struggles.

“I remember thinking, ‘Oh my God, I’m not alone,’” she says. “I still am timid when opening up about it because it’s very personal, but in quarantine I started to try and spread awareness. I just want kids to know that they’re not alone. And when I was in quarantine, I noticed there’s so many people right now on social media who are saying that they’re experiencing anxiety and they don’t know what to do about it. This is the perfect time to really talk about it, because it’s so prevalent right now.”

And spreading awareness is exactly what Meg’s doing right now. She has a highlight reel on her Instagram dedicated to mental health aid, an IGTV where she discusses coping with anxiety and panic attacks, and has even partnered with Children’s Health Fund to talk about youth mental health.

“To see little kids go through the same thing that I did is just so heartbreaking, and I just want them to know that they’re not alone,” Meg says. “It’s just a part of who they are, and they should be proud of it, you know?” Thus began Meg’s partnership with Children’s Health Fund and her determination to spread awareness about anxiety disorders. “Children’s Health Fund is amazing,” Meg says. “I’ve done so many things with them, like visiting children’s hospitals and doing fundraisers. They are absolutely incredible.”

Meg’s worked with the Children’s Miracle Network, too. “I went to this hospital in Ohio because they had this sponsorship with Huffy, the bicycle company. When kids were going to their surgeries, to bring some light to the situation, they would have little motorized bicycles they could ride to their surgeries. And it was just so beautiful to see the kids smile.”

To cope with her own anxiety, Meg likes to write or listen to music. “I spiral really easily,” she says. “I start overthinking everything, but when I write it down and I look at it, I realize that maybe it wasn’t as bad as I thought. And I also love listening to music. Bob Marley is my favorite for when I’m feeling down.”

Meg admits that, despite being more open about having anxiety, she still struggles with seeking help. However, she knows talking to people about having anxiety isn’t something to be ashamed of.

“I still struggle with it now, so I’m speaking from experience, and it’s really not as embarrassing as you think it is to show your anxiety or confide in someone about it,” she says. “People are not going to think it’s weird or fake. If it’s a parent or a guardian or a teacher or a best friend or anyone, if they love you so much, they’re going to accept you. It’s really hard to step into getting help or confiding in someone, but it’s really, truly worth it and you will feel less alone.”

Anxiety is not a shameful experience, and Meg is a shining example of that. From movies to music to mental health advocacy, Meg is proof that a person can live with anxiety and be successful in anything they set their minds to.

Becca is a senior at Emory University studying English and Political Science. When she's not writing or stressing over homework, she can be found reading, rowing, or listening to Ed Sheeran on repeat.