The Advocate July/Aug 2022
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Thomas Orlina Wants to Be the Filipino-American Ryan Seacrest

Dalmiro Quiroga

A love letter to Los Angeles, Your Time With Thomas is a web series in which Thomas Orlina shares the diverse neighborhoods, cultures, and people of his hometown.

“The show is where conversation meets destination,” the gay Filipino-American says. “I wanted to create a show where people felt like they could connect with me on a personal level.”

The born-and-raised Angeleno has used his experiences working at TMZ, Warner Bros. Entertainment, and AfterBuzz TV to produce the eight-part docuseries. Now in production on season 2, the show lets Orlina highlight a wide range of topics, including friendships, dating, sexuality, gender, internet obsessions, social media, family and work.

For example, Orlina tackled the issue of coming out — a subject that isn’t always easy to deal with in Filipino-American families — in an episode that received an incredible amount of supportive feedback.

“It’s important for me at this point in my life to do things that make me happy and that will impact others in a great way,” he says. “I know millions of people out there, especially young teens who are dealing with having to come out, are looking for people online that they can connect with to explain their situation and their outcome to find comfort and peace.”

Orlina once told Northwest Asian Weekly his dream was to be the Ryan Seacrest of the Filipino-American community. Having worked in front of and behind the camera in Hollywood, he’s fast on his way. And Hollywood is ready for people of color to shine, he says.

“This generation is in a better place than we were 10 years ago,” he says. “When I started my career a lot of things were different, and minorities have come up immensely. The key word in Hollywood right now is diversity, and I do think we have evolved. Some movements that helped get us here are artists and entertainers who have spoken out in public about their struggles to feel included, and Lady Gaga and Ellen DeGeneres really tapped into advocating for the LGBT community. I wouldn’t want to live in any other time period because I think it’s only going to get better from here, and I have seen the progress.”

Orlina ends each episode on a high note with a “takeaway” — an uplifting message or motivational speech. And really, the overarching theme of the show is to empower yourself to make a change in your own community. If that sounds easier said than done, Orlina says it all comes down to believing in yourself.

“Whatever you want to do in life, get started and do it as soon as you can,” he advises. “Have a clear understanding of what you want to share with people before you start because it’s important to stand by every single viewpoint you end up delivering.”

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