Discovering ‘Us’ at PaleyFest 2017

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CARLA BIANCA RAVANES-HIGHAM

As a young child, I spent most of my days across a television screen. My dad’s reasoning was simple: in order for him to be able to tend to my baby brother, he needed to keep me distracted. So aside from a pile of books that laid across the room, I was also allowed to watch as many parent-sanctioned TV shows as I can.

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This habit trailed into high school where I spent every waking moment watching One Tree Hill, Gilmore Girls,
The OC, and whatever else was cool on TV. And while most Stepford parents disagree on this method, it actually worked to my advantage because it was my love for television that encouraged me to write and to see a world beyond my small room in the south of Metro Manila.

Fast forward to about 10 years later and I was right smack in the middle of my vacation in La La Land, Los Angeles when I got the tweet of my life. A really sweet man from Hulu (that I subscribed to without my husband’s knowledge initially, I believe most of my money goes to all these television subscriptions) told me that I won VIP tickets to the This Is Us Panel for PaleyFest 2017 at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood nevertheless.

You see, it has been an extremely long time since something of great value has appeared on television. From the moment my only hope and eternal idol Mandy Moore announced that she was returning to the scene after spending years away from the limelight to focus on her personal life, I was hooked with the show. It speaks of family, a subject extremely personal to me, acceptance, and moving forward in life.

This Is Us is a show that I pour my whole existence to for about forty minutes a week to relate to each character rather gleefully.

The show has gained so many fans because of the story of an interracial family, their sacrifices, their mistakes, and how they continue to love each other no matter what. In fact, one of the many memorable moments of the night was when Milo, who plays the patriarch Jack on the show, acknowledged his parents who were sitting in the row before us, about how their love story is an inspiration for the character he plays.

There was no dry eye in the room as he spoke about the importance of sticking together, remaining loyal, and fighting for family as his parents have. That was the true depth of the show and is the reason why it resonates with so many. It reminded me of my parents, who are far away from me now, and how much they’ve sacrificed and how distance can make you appreciate people more.

‘This Is Us’ cast at the Directors Guild of America finale event FACEBOOK PHOTO

To meet the cast in the flesh was the ultimate dream come true. Not to mention that prior to that day, the week has been full of one challenge after another. It was as if God was peeking through saying, I got you, just relax and chill. And He did it in the form of Mandy Moore hugging me really tight after sharing with her the story of how my husband and I fell in love after watching Tangled and how much I adored her since her days singing “Candy,” of Milo Ventimigila teaching my husband that men don’t take selfies, and of Chrissy Metz and I high-fiving the fact that girls today have different sets of role models to look up to.

The PaleyFest is a media convention where stars of the most popular shows share interesting behind-the-scene tidbits while providing fans a way to see them in person.

This Is Us pulled in the biggest PaleyFest audience ever and it was exciting to see so many people relate to
family on so many levels. It was also amazing to see the Oscar statuette in the flesh and hangout at the winners’ hall where only the best of the best get to hang out.

Los Angeles is truly the land of opportunity because never have I ever imagined that one day, something so incredibly cool would happen to me and it reminds me that no matter how dark life seems, there are bits of sunshine every now and then.

Oddly enough the high of that night brought me back to the reality that life is still good and God is still good. And once you choose to see the bright side, unexpected opportunities occur and you soon, the wheel starts turning again.

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www.carlabiancaravanes.com

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