Lisa Whelchel says it wasn’t always easy growing up on TV’s The Facts of Life. She began playing spoiled rich girl Blair Warner at age 16 and was one of only two cast members to remain a main character on the show through all nine seasons. (The other was Mindy Cohn, who played Natalie.) As a teenager, “you’re trying to find out who you are. Your body is changing, your face is changing, your hair is changing,” says Lisa, 58. “When all that’s captured on TV — and there’s still reruns! — there is a little bit of a groan element.”

After Facts stopped filming new episodes in 1988, Lisa focused primarily on her personal life, becoming a wife and mother in a short time. But now that her three children are grown, she’s dipped her toes back into showbiz more frequently. The new season of Collector’s Call, the series Lisa hosts on MeTV, debuts on March 27.

When did you decide to be an actress?

“I knew since I was 8 years old. I was really, really shy as a kid, so my mom put me in an acting class. From that moment, I just fell in love with acting. I didn’t want to wait until I grew up. I wanted to be a child actress.”

You joined The New Mickey Mouse Club at 12. That must have been fun!

“Yes, we filmed at Disneyland. We went to work before the park opened, so it was really cool to see behind the scenes. We also got to be in the parade — riding on giant mouse ears down Main Street or dancing on a float. It’s kind of hard to beat that for great childhood memories.”

Did you enjoy being on The Facts of Life?

We had so much fun. We had an incredible cast and crew, and there wasn’t a lot of pressure. They took into account that we were kids, and so they let us have fun. But we were also professional. We knew when to settle down and do the job that we were paid to do.”

Lisa Whelchel So 'Happy' Her Kids Didn't Pursue Acting

Who were you closest to among the cast?

“I was close to pretty much all of them, but probably Nancy McKeon. She even lived with me when she turned 18. We both lived in Texas after the show went off the air and were able to visit. Our paths took a similar turn — we both became mothers and mostly left show business.”

Was it hard to adjust to “normal” life after Facts ended?

“I can understand why it would be difficult for a lot of people, but it wasn’t for me. Within the year I had a child, and within three years I had three kids. My first chapter was great, but my second chapter, as a mom, was even better.”

What do you like about hosting Collector’s Call?

“Collectors are characters in the best sense of the word. They always have an interesting story — it’s always connected to their hearts, it’s connected to their childhood or relationships. So that’s what’s most fascinating to me. It’s meeting the people and hearing the stories behind their collections.”

Do you have any favorite episodes in the new season?

“We meet a collector who has an incredible selection of Disney memorabilia and toys from the era when I was a child. So that especially touched my heart, and I think that’s the appeal of the show. Many of these collections bring us back to our childhood.”

You’re also a life coach. Tell us about it.

“Yes, my day job for the past four-and-a-half years is as a life coach. I’m just fascinated with people and what makes us tick. I like helping people identify what they want to pursue. It’s all interconnected, my attraction to Collector’s Call and life coaching. (For more info, see Lisa’s Instagram @contigolifecoach)

Did coaching other people lead you to take a harder look at your own life?

“In 2016, I did a real kind of interior journey. I did a 30-day silent retreat at a monastery. Then, I went to Peru and did four ayahuasca ceremonies. And a month later, I walked the 500 miles of the Camino de Santiago. All three of those were for the express purpose of just going as deep into my interior as possible to really find out what’s underneath all that I had learned to be a success in life. I feel that the more I succeeded, the further I got away from my natural-born essence and purpose.”

That sounds like it should be a book!

“It’s about 70 percent written, but it’s definitely going a little slow. In the beginning of the pandemic, we all thought, ‘Oh, great. This is the opportunity to do all those things we said we would do if only we had more time.’ But I think the common crisis has got us all weighted down. I anticipate finishing it by spring next year.

Where does religion figure in your life?

“It’s still the central focus. I was raised a Christian, but now I would call myself a Christ follower. I think there is a distinction. Sadly, Jesus’ teachings aren’t always taught in some churches. Some people that call themselves Christians — I don’t see them acting like Jesus. So I would call myself a Christ follower.”

What are you most proud of in your life?

“My three grown children and their spouses. Just to know that your children are solid, have good hearts, and have found spouses that are amazing people who love them — there is just no greater joy. I can leave this earth with a smile on my face knowing that my children are just fine.”

Did any of them follow you into showbiz?

“No, I wouldn’t allow that when they were kids. My youngest wanted to. I said, ‘OK, when you’re 18 , but you need to get a college education.’ She did a four-year degree in two years and then moved to California and ended up doing a movie. She was really talented, more than I ever was. But after three years, she decided it was too rough of a life. I couldn’t have been happier when she decided to not pursue it.”

How about you? Will you ever act again?

“I would love to be a character actress. I’d like to follow Betty White and do more character comedy roles.”