Rachel’s 2019 Year In Review

Hello friends! Happy New Year! Yes I know it is the 6th and not New Years Eve but I’m still in recovery mode for covering 115 Christmas movies on The Hallmarkies Podcast so I have an out! Nevertheless, 2019 is an interesting year to think about for me. In some ways I feel like nothing happened and yet at the same time everything happened. It was a lot of hard work, mixed in with the events of life that make things interesting.

To begin with 2019 started out in a fashion I could never have predicted. In January I received an email from someone over at rottentomatoes.com. Evidently they had found my reviews at rotoscopers.com and were impressed. They also were on the hunt to find more female critics, which definitely helped me out. Without even applying I was added to rottentomatoes which is something I could never have dreamed of!

jen 2019-2

With my rottentomatoes status I began to think of my movie writing in a new way. The idea of becoming at least a part-time critic seemed plausible for the first time in my life. To my thrill I applied and was accepted to be on the Allied and Disney screening lists, which basically means I get to see and review all the new releases that screen before critics. I have had such an amazing year going to screenings mostly with my friend Jen and seeing 136 films in the theater (including 25 Sundance films)!


Speaking of Sundance I had a fabulous time attending and covering the festival in 2019. It was my 4th year at the festival and I saw 25 films, a personal record I intend to beat in 2020. Some of my favorites from the festival were ‘Maiden’, ‘The Report’ and ‘Blinded by the Light’.

podcaster Rachel2

One thing I can definitely say is, aside from my mission, I worked harder in 2019 than any other year in my life. I put out content for both Rachel’s Reviews and Hallmarkies Podcast almost every day. This required careful scheduling, time spent interviewing folks, writing reviews, editing (with the huge help of my interne and friend Jonathan North) and coordinating guests/cohosts and more.

This can get stressful at times but for the most part it is a happy work. I am so grateful to my employer for helping work with this crazy schedule. I have been basically blogging for them this year at Zim’s USA and I’m very proud of what we’ve achieved. I am also beyond grateful for the 8 co-hosts of The Hallmarkies Podcast that have dedicated so much of their time to making this succeed. I love them so much. I am also grateful for Stanford, David, Conrado and other co-hosts and guests I’ve made content with for Rachel’s Reviews. I just love you all so much.

grandma richards2In March I got a chance to spend some time with my Grandma Richards. I think we all sensed she was ready to go and it would be one of the last visits. Sure enough she passed away a few weeks later and we had her funeral services. It’s always hard to say goodbye to loved ones but she lived a full and good life and it was very uplifting to remember her at the funeral and see most of my cousins again.


Then in April I got to go to the Spring FANX and my friend Larry came to visit! (He came to see Zachary Levi but I can pretend it was just for me LOL). We had a great time visiting and got to celebrate Easter together with my parents and brother. FANX isn’t doing their Spring event in 2020 and I can understand why but it was a fun time to hear from stars and be with my friend.

fanx spring

Then in June I had to say goodbye again to my other Grandma, Grandma Wagner. I had a close relationship with this Grandma, so it definitely was a sad time. However, she had toughed it out almost a decade longer than anyone thought she could. It was sad but also a time of remembrance and gratitude. I also got to see all my family except for Madeline.

I have now lost all of my Grandparents. What a blessing each one of them has been in my life.


Another highlight of the summer was finishing my 14th open water race in the Deer Creek Marathon Swim. My time was ridiculously slow and I was not trained like I should be but I had a good time and I finished!

In August I made my bi-annual trip to Anaheim, California to attend the D23 Expo. This is the fan event Disney puts on every 2 years where they announce their new slate, celebrate old films and have lots of lines. It’s an exhausting but rewarding experience. Plus it was so much fun to meet up with friends and fellow animation youtubers/bloggers. What a great time!

rachel and mickey

While in Anaheim I went to Disneyland for a day and it was a magical experience, as always! I got to see Mickey, ride the new Galaxy’s Edge ride, eat lots of great food and do practically everything I wanted to do (Haunted Mansion was closed for the holiday turnover but it was still a fun day). I returned home exhausted but grateful for the fun experience.

fanx 2019

After being so exhausted with D23 I wasn’t sure I was up for FANX just over a week later! However, it ended up being a lot of fun. I got to meet voice actors Susan Egan and Linda Ballantyne and here from many stars about their various projects (honestly all the FANX speakers kind of blur together so I can’t remember what I heard in Septmeber vs April). Nevertheless, it was a fun time.

christmas rachel

From October through December was spent covering Christmas movies and new releases and holding on for dear life! There were weeks where Hallmarkies put out not only 1 post a day but 2- an interview and a recap  episode. It was a lot of work but we got our first sponsors in August and successfully made our reach almost every single time. We are growing and have a patreon I’m proud of. We also have a kofi if you want to support my work in a one time donation. I am SOOOOO grateful for anyone who does.

Now looking into 2020 I have lots of hard work ahead of me as I work on becoming a consistent freelance writer and critic. In 2019 I got things rolling with 4 articles in The Deseret News, and I hope that can continue. Regardless, I will be watching a lot of movies, recording a lot of podcasts and writing a lot of reviews and I couldn’t be happier about it! My only hope is there won’t be any funerals in 2020, but life is unexpected and crazy (be careful everyone!).

Onward to a great 2020!



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