To those still singing “I Want You Back” at the JC Chasez poster hanging on their childhood bedroom wall, your prayers have been answered. The ’90s teen heartthrob and former ‘NSYNC vocalist is giving his fans a dose of nostalgia, making a special appearance on a reboot of the show that launched his career: Disney’s Mickey Mouse Club.
The former America’s Best Dance Crew judge, 42, who stars in the series’ 2017 remake Club Mickey Mouse’s “Back to School Special” episode premiering Friday, tells PEOPLE he was excited to get a call from the studio to revisit his roots.
“I’m always open to the idea of working with [Disney],” Chasez says. “I’m proud of what I did in the club back then and I do want to see it succeed in the future because it’s such a fond memory for me.”
In the early ’90s, Chasez starred alongside Britney Spears, Ryan Gosling, Christina Aguilera, Keri Russell, and his future ‘NSYNC bandmate Justin Timberlake on The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, which was the show’s fourth iteration since its 1955 debut.
Chasez says he remembers that 1989-1995 cast’s camaraderie like it was yesterday.
“I was a part of something fun, and no matter how much time passes, I’ve created friends for life,” the singer says of his former costars, many of whom went on to see major Hollywood success. “We have a connection because we shared something special in our youth. We all came from different backgrounds but we were all focused on getting better every day and pushing our talents as far as we could.”
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But now, more than two decades since its last season, Disney has made some drastic changes to the historical series. Club Mickey Mouse — which airs exclusively on Facebook and Instagram — stars a fresh set of “Mousketeers” and a new target audience: Gen-Z’ers in the social media age, a progression Chasez believes was “natural.”
“I think that everything has evolved,” the singer said of the show’s more accessible platform. “You kind of expect a certain amount of access from your favorite performers. I guess years ago we weren’t as involved in actors’ and musicians’ daily lives and now it’s become the new normal,” he added.
The show’s biggest update? The content. Forget the days of keeling over as Chasez, Timberlake, and Gosling performed a swoon-worthy rendition of Jodeci’s “Cry For You”: Club Mickey Mouse’s new members are penning their own ballads.
“They are content creators,” Chasez said of the cast he regards as “very talented.” “When I worked on the Club, it was about shooting videos and doing dance performances of the songs that were currently in the Top 40, and now they’re the ones writing them.”
Despite the new wave of technology, Chasez’s ’90s legacy remains very much intact. ‘NSYNC earned a Hollywood Walk of Fame star on April 30 of this year, and Chasez says he feels “proud” of the frequent memes and jokes that pop up around the internet.
“If you do something that people are saying ‘don’t forget this,’ then you did it right. Every April 30, everyone says ‘It’s gonna be May,’ which is now a good laugh. We had enough fun with an audience that it became something they throw around every year.”
Though the star said it was “unlikely” that ‘NSYNC will get back together, they’re still just as dedicated to their fanbase. “We’ll always be the band, we’ll always be friends,” he said, noting that the group is still collaborating on merchandise for their pop-up stores. “We made a commitment to each other to do right by the fans around this time, so we’re going to turn out some new things for them to enjoy.”
Chasez, who had previous experience mentoring on the hit dance competition show, America’s Best Dance Crew, and through his 2013 creation of the Girl Radical group, views his contribution to aspiring stars as coming “full-circle.”
“It’s kind of a pay-it-forward thing,” he said, “When I did the dance crew show, it was because the first thing I ever did in public was a dance competition. I went from doing the talent shows, to doing the Club, and then advising as a judge and critic on the dance show to now doing the same for the Club.”
In terms of what advice he had to give the young rising stars, the former singer had just one thing to say: “Be open to one another.”
“One of the best things that I got out of it was listening and learning from [my castmates],” he said, “If you help someone where they’re weak, they’ll help you where you’re weak.”
As for whether the new show will churn out the next Hollywood A-listers, Chasez remains hopeful. “I would love to see another generation of Disney stars create a new wave in the future,” he said. “They’re great and talented people, and the Club is in good hands.”
Club Mickey Mouse’s “Back to School Special” premieres Friday.