This Is Us actor Niles Fitch says series inspired him in a beautiful and heartbreaking way.
At the Screen Actors Guild Awards on Sunday night, the cast of This Is Us won the award for Outstanding Ensemble in a Drama Series for the second year in a row. As the winners celebrated their victory, they courted the press backstage, graciously answering questions and posing for photos. When asked if any of the cast had learned anything about themselves as a result of portraying their characters, Niles Fitch, who plays 17-year-old Randall Pearson, had a poignant and heartbreaking answer.
“My father passed away when I was 12. And I spent many years coping with that and not fully addressing it, even though I went to counseling, groups, stuff like that. But being able to watch it on TV, and it being so similar to what happened in my life, it really affected me. And I believe it helped me grow as a person. So, I thank the writers and Mr. Sterling and Mr. Ron and so forth for portraying that. Because it really helped me, and it helped me learn a lot about myself.”
Fitch refers to the storyline following adult Randall (Sterling K. Brown) as he gets to know his biological father William (Ron Cephas Jones). Randall and William grow closer over the course of the season, only to have Randall lose his father to stomach cancer not long after they meet. It is a testament to the depth and relatability of the show that even the actors can find meaning and strength in the storylines. It is a wonderful thing that simply watching the show – not even having an active part in the story – could help manage a young person’s lingering grief over the loss of a loved one.