Christy Carlson Romano Likes to 'Lean into the Cringe' of Reliving Her Disney Past

The Disney Channel alum tells PEOPLE about the launch of her and her husband Brendan Rooney's PodCo brand, which hosts several Disney-themed podcasts: "We're giving exclusive access to fans"

Christy Carlson Romano
Photo: Krystal Eve Photography

Christy Carlson Romano is back in familiar territory.

The former Even Stevens and Kim Possible child star is leveraging her Disney Channel past to launch a non-acting venture in the form of her PodCo company with husband Brendan Rooney.

The podcast outlet's slate of shows includes several rewatch podcasts of beloved 2000s kid shows, including Disney Channel's Wizards of Waverly Place and Nickelodeon's Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide, both of which are hosted by stars from the series. Even Romano's former series Even Stevens has its own rewatch podcast, which she co-hosts alongside fellow alums Nick Spano and Steven Anthony Lawrence.

"I love what we're doing with PodCo, because we've really not cornered the market, I should say, but I feel like we found a niche here," Romano, 38, exclusively tells PEOPLE. "We found a niche."

For Romano and Rooney, tapping into "this idea of nostalgia and why it's so infectious and why it's still growing" was part of their inspiration for the new partnership. But the pair began their path of content creation in 2019 with Romano's YouTube cooking show. From there, they'd continue to add other new media ventures to their roster through Romano's Vulnerable podcast with Acast and her I Hear Voices show with iHeartMedia.

"Once we understood the landscape of that, we're like, 'We need to go back to these people whom we've made great friendships with, and we need to reintroduce them in this rewatch way that people are starting to obsess over,' says Rooney. "So I just called a bunch of these people, and Christy's like, 'I totally support this. I think this is going to be fun.' I was like, 'I think we need to just kind of launch our own network, which will eventually become more than a network. We'll end up having a lot of the stuff in house, but let's start with a couple of these that are really strong.'"

Adds Rooney, "So we started it with Wizards, Ned's and then the Lawrence Brothers, who are friends of ours. We're doing one with them. And then Even Stevens, and then we have several more in development now."

"We're giving exclusive access to fans," Romano shares. "And that's what PodCo is aiming at doing, is creating iconic conversations."

Christy Carlson Romano
Krystal Eve Photography

Romano, in particular, knows it's not always easy to relive the past. But she welcomes the opportunity nonetheless.

"So it is cringy at times, yeah. I think you lean into the uncomfortable, but at least you're not alone, because you have a co-host," she says. "You can lean into the cringe."

There have been quite a few benefits to having their own podcast network. According to Romano, the couple gets "to reap the benefits of us having amazing hosts, but at the same time, we're cross-promoting each other." (Disney alum Selena Gomez actually gave a special shout-out to former Wizards costars Jennifer Stone and David DeLuise following the launch of their rewatch podcast, which she will soon make an appearance on.)

"It's actually truly the old Hollywood model of synergy. It's something that I think another thing about nostalgia is that when we think about Disney Channel or even Nickelodeon back in the quote, unquote 'golden era,' everybody hopped on everyone's TV shows," Romano continues. "Everyone did a DCOM together. There was a synergy that Disney, in general, had it as one of their mission statements that we were told about, that it came from the top down. So we're really promoting that idea of old school, golden era synergy with PodCo."

Another benefit is the couple — who has been married since 2013 — gets to work closely together. "I can see the trope of how mixing marriage and business can go awry, but for us, the two strengthen each other," Rooney explains.

Christy Carlson Romano
Courtesy of PodCo

"We are forced to spend so much time with each other, and obviously we have different roles. We do different things. I'm big picture, I'm crunching numbers, I'm looking at what is three years from now, what is five years from now? What are the next creative things that I want to do? How do we make more tent poles?" he continues. "I'm looking at different stuff, where Christy can get very nitty gritty and in there. Again, the idea for the Lawrence Brothers pod, I had something completely different. She came up with that. I was like, 'This is the path. This is really good.' So we really only bolster each other. Our creative disagreements are very few."

Romano adds, "Here's the thing, having two kids together has taught us how to speak together, because our time is so valuable, that if you're going to have a disagreement, you better come out of that with a solution. So we're extremely solution-focused, and that's our secret power."

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As for what's next for PodCo, Rooney teases, "There's a lot of big things in the work! The team is growing rapidly."

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