The Stars of ‘Ned’s Declassified’ Talk the Power of Tears, Non-Linear Thinking, and Navigating Adulthood During ATX TV Fest

As they navigate the nuances of survival, streaming, and shedding tears in their newly launched ‘Ned’s Declassified Podcast Survival Guide.’

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Ned's Declassified Podcast Survival Guide PodCo ATX TV Festival True Hollywood Talk
Photo Credit: Michelle Maurin

This interview was conducted by Andrew Rossow, Esq. and Jhanelle Dionne.

As part of ATX TV Festival Season 12, True Hollywood Talk continues with its lineup of PodCo interviews, sitting down with the stars of the Nickelodeon show Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide – Devon Werkheiser (“Ned Bigby”), Lindsey Shaw (“Jennifer Ann”), and Daniel Curtis Lee (“Cookie”) on the launch of their new podcast “Ned’s Declassified Podcast Survival Guide.”

The Nickelodeon series first premiered in September 2004 and ran through June 2007, with episodes available to stream on both Netflix and Paramount+.

PodCo, a startup founded by former Disney Channel star Christy Carlson Romano (“Even Stevens”, “Kim Possible”) and her husband, Brendan Rooney, brings together an evolving lineup of podcast programming hosted by former teen stars who are navigating adulthood in real-time.

Launched twelve years ago by Emily Gipson and Caitlin McFarland, ATX TV Festival is an annual festival in Austin, Texas that has since developed into a year-round event that is entirely focused on the television medium via its most engaging programming that brings together industry leaders and fans every June for a four-day event that consists of panels, premiere screenings, and late-night events. 

On the final day of the four-day festival, PodCo made its appearance known in a two-hour panel, moderated by Romano, that included the hosts of three of PodCo’s shows – Brotherly Love Podcast, hosted by the Lawrence brothers, Wizards of Waverly Pod, hosted by Jennifer Stone and David DeLuise, and Ned’s Declassified Podcast Survival Guide.

With ‘survival’ clearly front-and-center of the Nickelodeon series, and now its accompanying podcast on PodCo, both Werkheiser and Lee touched on several new “elements” that just didn’t exist at the time of the 2004 series – from smartphones and sophisticated bluetooth technology to the dangerous world of social media that has the means of overpowering a person’s logic and emotions. 

“You can’t escape it nowadays,” says Werkheiser, adding that “this technology follows you outside the classroom in your pocket.”

Shaw and Lee agreed that ‘survival’ has certainly evolved, which presents new challenges for kids today who have to face a lot more than “bullying,” but hoping that the school itself is doing its part to protect students from the rampant wave of violence and unfortunate shootings that have taken over headlines the past two years.  

The Power of Tears

One of the more interesting conversations we had centered around the power of tears and what gets each of us choked up. 

It’s TV shows and movies for me – it could be Marie Kondo that I’m watching, it could be Tiny Beautiful Things, or anything that makes me feel so overwhelmed by good acting and good writing. And it heals you if it’s done the right way,” Shaw confessed. 

Jumping in, Werkheiser emphasized the tears he has for works in the media:

There’s the happy tears I get from Queer Eye and Ted Lasso, where I’m just like ‘ahh that sweetness of humanity’ – Queer Eye makes me feel hope for humanity, as does Ted Lasso that has such art,” he told True Hollywood Talk. 

Werkheiser also praised the fourth season of Succession, where they did an episode on the seven stages of grief. 

It was done in such a way that was so resonating to things happening in my life, I was crying the whole episode because they did it so authentically to what happens when something suddenly changes your life, and however everyone processes it in this messy way. I’ve never seen it done better in the media than that Succession episode – it was devastating to watch, because it was so beautiful.”

The beauty of Ned’s Declassified Podcast Survival Guide is that it harmonizes childhood with adulthood, giving credence to the linear line of thinking we as children are taught to follow as we approach adulthood and how that starts to change as we shift our way of thinking. 

“In our heads, you look at adulthood as linear, where everything is steady and keeps going up – and then you get to it and realize, life is just these giant cycles and it’s naturally going to go up and down with crazy low’s and crazy high’s – especially in entertainment,” says Wekheiser.

“If you’re making any effort towards progress, you’re going to be pushing yourself into territory that you haven’t discovered yet,” says Lee. 

And as the ongoing writer’s strike continues to keep Hollywood on “pause,” there are those actors like Lee who believe that the industry should have anticipated how large of a role streaming technologies were going to play and what that meant for actors.

Jumping off what Devon said, surviving and adapting to what that new thing is, such as streaming, I wish there was a way that actors in the actors union and SAG could anticipated that streaming was going to be such a big thing, and all these actors were going to be missing out on many opportunities,” Lee says.

With streaming arguably serving as the “blood” and revenue source for Hollywood production and distribution, the amount of work that the industry now has to fight for in ensuring the proper guardrails are in place to protect writers and actors is more than challenging.

“…but now we’re so far gone and we’re not able to get any reconciliation,” Lee added, noting the difficulties in the ongoing WGA strike.

Check out our interview with Wizards of Waverly Pod hosts, Jennifer Stone and David DeLuise.