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Reno Confessions: The Great Giveback

Cousins Melissa McCarthy and Jenna Perusich have teamed up to renovate the homes of amazing people doing good in the world—find out more!

Melissa McCarthy and Jenna Perusich portrait in home during reno
Catch Melissa and Jenna’s show on HGTV and discovery+, which premiered June 13.

You best know Melissa McCarthy as the multi–Academy Award nominee and Emmy Award–winning actress from movies such as Bridesmaids, The Heat, and Can You Ever Forgive Me? But there’s something else she’s super talented at: home renovations. Melissa and her cousin Jenna Perusich first showed off their skills when they appeared with Drew and Jonathan on Celebrity IOU.

Now the duo are merging their love of home makeovers with a desire to help others in their new discovery+ series, The Great Giveback with Melissa McCarthy and Jenna Perusich. In each episode, Melissa and Jenna will surprise amazing people with beautiful home transformations. Here they tell us a little more about what to expect.

Have you always loved to renovate?

M: Even as a kid, if my parents left the room, they’d come back to find that I’d moved all the furniture. Or I’d say something insane like, “If we just knocked through this wall, I think this could…” And they’d go, “We’re not knocking through a wall. That’s not going to happen.” I think I’ve been nesting since I was eight.

J: Melissa and I have had similar journeys. Most people walk into a friend’s apartment and are like, “Let’s play beer pong.” But I’m thinking, “Let’s move around the furniture!” When I moved to L.A., we bonded over our love of all things design, and it took off from there.

How do you work together?

M: We work hand in hand. We both want the other involved to be involved in every decision. We get very excited, we talk very fast, a million things happen at once, and it swirls into one tornado. Then, at the end, the wind dies down and we say, “Oh, we like it!” We know each other so well that we’re weirdly kind of the same person, Even when we disagree, it’s not a disagreement. It’s like, “Oh, I love that idea. That’s something I hadn’t thought of!”

Do you two share the same aesthetic?

M: We try to not be so much like, “What is our style?” We try to go for what the bones of place is asking for, which maybe sounds a little woo woo

J: We were just looking at a space online that we’re going to be working on together. It sounds cheesy, but the question is, “What’s the story of this space?” We know what we like, but it’s a matter of how we apply that to a specific space.

M: We just did a project where we leaned ’70s, but modern and clean, not like a set. Once we know the story, the decisions flow. It’s like a compass, turning us in a certain direction.

Can you tell us about some of the people you renovated for on the show?

M: Lily and Katie are just so amazing. They’re about to be married, they just had their first little boy, and Katie is serving our country. She served three tours, and she really shined a light on what so many vets go through and the trauma of war. She spoke so openly about PTSD and her process of getting to the other side of it. To find out that someone who goes to war for our protection comes home and is unhoused and is living in her car—it’s a pretty shocking reality.

J: It was really inspiring to be with Katie. We’ve all been in a dark space or faced challenges, but you can still own where you’ve been yet stay positive. She was never resentful for a moment, only grateful for this amazing new chapter.

“Melissa and Jenna showed in Celebrity IOU that they really know their stuff: Their designs are impeccable, and they do whatever it takes for these families.”

—Drew

Can you ever satisfy the renovation bug? It sounds a little addictive.

J: You said it exactly. You’re always looking for something new once you finish a project.

M: As soon as we plaster a wall and redo a room, it’s on to the next. I know that if [my husband] Ben sees me staring, he’ll say, “Please stop looking at that wall. That’s a good wall.” We both acknowledge it’s completely addicting. The second we finished this season, the next morning, I felt like, “Oh my God, we have to rip something up.”

J: It’s a hefty passion.

M: It is! Not long ago we walked into a friend’s house, and I don’t remember how it started, but the next thing I knew we’d removed all the furniture and cleared off her shelves. I was knocking on a wall with all seriousness, saying, “I think I can take this down.” And she said, “Wait a minute. I thought you just came to drop something off.” It comes up like a fever.

Who cried more on the show, you or Melissa?

J: I think everybody cried. How could you not?!

M: There were not a lot of dry eyes, with our lovely families, and certainly with me. My God. I get so overwhelmed with how good people are, and when they get choked up, it goes right to me. But it’s a good cry. It’s happy tears, it’s sad tears. It’s everything. It was such a beautifully emotional ride.

Melissa McCarthy and Jenna Perusich portrait in elegant home

Behind the Scenes: Melissa Shares What Inspired the Show

“Doing Jenna’s mom and dad’s place for Celebrity IOU was such a wonderful experience, and we saw how it made a difference in their lives. After these last three years of trying times, we wanted to do something positive. We looked at each other and said, ‘How can we shine a light on all the goodness in the world?’ We thought, Why not have people nominate people they love who devote every day of their lives to helping others?”

By Laura Morgan | All images courtesy of HGTV

This article originally appeared in the Summer 2022 issue of Drew + Jonathan Reveal, Drew & Jonathan’s home and lifestyle magazine.

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