By Nina Huang
Northwest Asian Weekly
With his new feel-good YouTube series that airs every other Friday, Your Time with Thomas! (YTWT), Thomas Orlina hopes to promote diversity and inspire others to follow their dreams.
Orlina is a 29-year-old Filipino American who juggles three different jobs in Hollywood in hopes of becoming the Ryan Seacrest of the Filipino American community.
Orlina knew he wanted to be in the entertainment industry since he was a kid. He’d love to follow in the footsteps of Seacrest because of the way he’s been able to navigate through different careers.
“There feels like a void in the Filipino community. I want to change the way people look at us and be that person to highlight the community,” he said.
Orlina currently works in corporate communications at Warner Brothers, but on the side, he creates content for his YouTube show. He is also a red carpet correspondent and on-air host for AfterBuzz TV.
Prior to his current roles, Orlina worked at TMZ and Telepictures Productions.
After putting a hold on his on-camera hosting duties, he realized that it was his true calling after getting hired at AfterBuzz. It was one of those a-ha moments where he knew that was what he’s always wanted to do.
Orlina described his show as a channel where relatable topics, such as friendships, relationships, and dating, can be catered towards different audiences.
In the first few episodes, audiences get to know Orlina and follow him on his adventures in Los Angeles. Orlina also touches on topics, such as trying new things, not being afraid to be your true self, and giving back to the community.
Ellen DeGeneres and Lady Gaga are also figures that Orlina admires, for their strong support for the LGBTQ community. He also admires the business-savvy Kim Kardashian for her and her family’s ability to promote themselves and their products.
His immigrant parents have instilled the value of how hard work can pay off, as well as giving back to the community.
“The hardest thing is to get people to invest in the series. The world is digital now, so I definitely think people are open to it, it’s just a matter of finding the right fit for what I want to do,” he said.
Orlina emphasized his show as a way to promote diversity, because he loves the idea of people of different backgrounds coming together.
“Every day I wake up and feel that people need to know this story, I definitely think it’s important to keep going and keep fighting,” he said of his persistence.
Each episode takes about eight hours to film. With the show, Orlina feels that he’s subjecting himself and putting his life out there for people to see. In episode 2, he shares his coming out story and that was something he was passionate about so he could positively affect people.
“I’m very open to criticism because I think at the end of it all, it will only benefit your product and improve you as an artist,” he explained.
Orlina’s biggest supporters have been his family. When Orlina was interviewed by an NBC-affiliated news station to talk about YTWT, his parents were there in person to watch. His two older sisters often help storyboard ideas with him for new episodes.
Years down the road, Orlina envisions expanding the YTWT brand, not just filming multiple seasons in other cities and countries, but to also evolve into products such as a clothing line.
With fans from all over the world, including Sweden, England, the Philippines, and the United States, Orlina feels the support.
Orlina hopes to inspire others, especially the younger generation like his niece. Through his show, he hopes to send the message that younger audiences should know that there’s no limit to what they can do.
“I never pay attention to the haters. There’s a reason why they are labeled that and I focus my time on myself, what I can control, and I don’t let the negativity of others phase me ever,” he said.
As a labor of love, Orlina hopes for his show to be picked up by a big pop culture network, so he can continue to share his story and reach different audiences. ■
To learn more about Orlina and to watch Your Time with Thomas!, visit thomasorlina.com.
Nina can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.