If you watch Sweet Magnolias, you're obviously a fan of Maddie Townsend. She's the best mom in town, has one of the most exciting new love interests, and has an addicting side storyline dealing with her cheating ex-husband Bill (Chris Klein). There's a lot to love about her, that's for sure. But the character didn't just materialize on her own one day. We have, of course, actress JoAnna Garcia Swisher to thank for giving her the presence she deserves — and for embodying everything we appreciate about Maddie in the first place. Swisher has really made the character incredibly memorable since she is just as charming and sweet in real life.
Just like Maddie, she seems like the type of woman you'd want to be friends with. But how well do you really know her? For instance, did you know that country legend Reba McEntire was actually one of her bridesmaids? And did you know she once portrayed one of the most popular Disney princesses of all time? There's a lot to unpack about Swisher, but we're giving you a crash course in everything there is to uncover about the starlet. Here's everything to know about one of our favorite leading ladies of television.
A Sunny Childhood
Growing up in Tampa, Swisher's parents encouraged her to get involved in extracurricular activities, which is how she found herself auditioning for a local theater company at the age of 10. She landed a role and was quickly discovered by Disney and Nickelodeon. Her parents were insistent that school comes first so she maintained a normal childhood by going to school while acting on the side. As a kid, she booked roles in Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Party of Five, Freaks and Geeks and more, commuting from Florida to wherever things were filming.
She was homecoming queen of Tampa Catholic High School and went on to attend Florida State University, where she was a member of Delta Delta Delta sorority. But she didn't finish, because she knew it was time to move out to Los Angeles and fully follow her acting dreams.
Home Run Romance
When it comes to romance, Swisher's knocked it out of the park. She's married to a professional baseball player. If you're a baseball fan, you might recognize the last name "Swisher." Nick Swisher is known professionally for his time playing for the Oakland Athletics as well as the New York Yankees though he also played sporadically for the Chicago White Sox, Cleveland Indians and Atlanta Braves. The couple was introduced by a mutual friend and hit it off pretty immediately. They said "I do" in Palm Beach, FL, and have two daughters together, Sailor and Emerson.
When the couple tied the knot, Swisher enjoyed an exciting wedding, too — with a country mega-star at the helm. For six seasons, Swisher starred as Reba McEntire's oldest daughter Cheyenne on the WB/CW sitcom Reba. After so many years together, it makes sense that they would develop a close bond. The country star stood by her on-screen daughter's side when she tied the knot with Nick Swisher in 2010. McEntire has not only remained close with her former co-star but has a relationship with her daughters as well. As Swisher tells Us Weekly, McEntire totally spoils them.
"She's very much Auntie Reba," she explained. "She spoils quite a bit. She doesn't babysit because when I see her, I want to be with her."
She's been a staple of both Hallmark and Lifetime movies
Sweet Magnolias feels straight out of a Hallmark movie, so it feels only right that Swisher has appeared on the actual Hallmark channel as well! She made her Hallmark debut in 2021 in the Irish romance As Luck Would Have It, and I'm hoping there's more down the line for her, as this was a really cute movie. She's also starred in the Lifetime Christmas movie A Very Merry Daughter of the Bride.
But that's not all Swisher has been involved with. She's a rather prolific actress in her own right. There are quite a few more shows where Swisher has been either the lead or a memorable recurring character. She's had main roles in Welcome to the Captain, Privileged, Better With You, Animal Practice, The Astronaut Wives Club, and Kevin (Probably) Saves the World. In addition, she's had notable recurring roles on Gossip Girl, Royal Pains and The Mindy Project.
Plus, in season three of the ABC series Once Upon a Time, Swisher appeared as the Disney princess Ariel from The Little Mermaid. She seemed to be over the moon at the opportunity, just as any young girl would be who grew up loving the classic '80s Disney film.
"The idea of doing this has been in my life for a while, so I was happy when they figured out a way for Ariel to come into the story that I was able to do this," Garcia told The Hollywood Reporter. "To be able to play a beloved Disney princess has been a dream come true."
Busy On and Off-Screen
It's always interesting to hear whether or not co-stars with great onscreen chemistry get along in real life. Luckily, our favorite trio from the popular Netflix series really do enjoy each other's company, especially during their memorable margarita get-togethers, which have become such a fun part of the series.
"We are like a little pack. It's fun to get together and just to see each other outside of work. That's why I love shooting our margarita nights because we're all together," Swisher told People.
As much fun as the Magnolias are having, the actress admits that margarita nights are "probably the most frustrating scenes for our director to get through" as the director will ask "ladies, let's focus" over and over to get a good take. "Those are probably their least favorite, but at the end of it, we're having the most fun."
Swisher has plenty going on when she isn't acting or hanging out with her friends from work. But if she wasn't busy enough being a mom and successful actress, Swisher also maintains a lifestyle blog called The Happy Place, where she shares DIY projects, home tips, recipes, and more. Is there anything she can't do?
READ MORE: 'Reba' Cast: Where Are They Today?
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