Meet Jeni: The Voice Behind This is it Actually

Jeni, the voice behind the this is it actually podcast, talks about her inspiration for starting a podcast, her favorite musicians, and her favorite spots in Canada.

Lauren – Travel and Write Today: I know you’ve spent many years in the entertainment industry, what inspired you to start a podcast? 

Jeni – this is it actually: I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember, not only in my career, but to whoever would listen! People have told me for years to start a podcast but I always came back to “what IS it?”. Then it just clicked one day. Sure, it’s my stories, but more importantly, it’s the stories of other people. How can we find connection – especially nowadays? It is through peoples’ stories, and I wanted to be the one to tell them.

TWT: What is the story behind the name: this is it actually?

TIIA: It came to me as I was asking the question, “what IS it?” — I actually said out loud “This is IT”. One of my favourite, most over-used words is ‘actually’, so it just sort of lined itself up. Oh and one of my all-time favourite movies is Love, Actually, so anything to incorporate that into my life is a bonus!

TWT: I know you are a writer — do you prefer a pen and paper or a laptop? 

TIIA: Oh gosh, am I allowed to love both? Pen and paper will always be my number one. There is something so cathartic about pen on paper, but I do love the sound of the tippy-tap on the keyboard. 

TWT: I know it is so hard to choose. I have more notebooks than I care to admit, but I also love the sound of typing (especially when you are in a groove).

TWT: What are some of your favorite podcasts (besides this is it actually): 

TIIA: I love Armchair Expert, Someone Knows Something, Terrible Thanks for Asking and My Dad Wrote a Porno. And two of my all time favourite short-run podcasts are S-Town and Missing Richard Simmons.

TWT: I know that you love music as much as I do (and that you even booked bands for a late night talk show!). Who are some of your favorite musicians? 

TIIA: Oh man, that was the best job ever! I’m pretty varied. When my daughters and I take a road trip, we blast Top 20 and musical soundtracks. On Sunday mornings, it’s usually Dolly and Elvis and Johnny and Paul Simon and Billy Joel and Carole King. But if you forced me to choose only 5 concerts for the rest of my life, they’d be: Ani Difranco, Mumford & Sons, P!nk, Adele and Ben Harper.

TWT: I love your Sunday morning playlist, and Ben Harper is one of my favorites too!

TWT: Have you always lived in Canada? What are some of your favorite local spots to visit? 

TIIA: I have lived in Canada my whole life. Grew up in a small town – it’s where a lot of my stories come from! I’ve been in Toronto for 23 years now. Prior to the pandemic, I used my city. It felt very important to me that if I’m raising 2 daughters here, they should have the opportunity to really see it. We love walking along Queen Street (there are so many clothing stores). Kensington Market is a beautiful bohemian neighbourhood that has vintage boutiques, art spaces, bakeries, thrift stores, patios and ALL the food. Great for people watching. We also love Toronto Island. We have our own little oasis – plus a clothing optional beach! – just a ferry ride away.

TWT: I know running a podcast and your online store takes up so much of your time — what do you enjoy doing when you have some down time?  

TIIA: It’s definitely a full-time job, plus I actually have to work and make a paycheque too! But I love visiting small towns. We are a road trip family! That is a favourite weekend thing to do. We’re slowly crossing off a list of places to go to. I love the beach, so I spend as much time there as possible, and I love going on hikes. We are so lucky in Ontario to have so much green space to explore. I also do yoga and I write, write, write!

TWT: What advice would you give to anyone who is thinking about starting a podcast? 

TIIA: I just got off a zoom with someone asking me this exact question! Honestly? Don’t hesitate. Hone in on the thing you love and talk about it. The people who love the same stuff will find you and you’ll know pretty early on if it’s for you or not. Oh and get a good mic. Listeners will excuse a lot of things but bad audio isn’t one of them. 

Follow this is it actually via the links below:


Podcast: this is it actually

TIIA Store: this is it actually — online store

Instagram: @thisisitactually