Singer-TV host Billy Crawford knows what kiddie performers go through as he himself started young in show business.
“Naalala ko kinukuha ko ’yung (bote ng) Tabaso ng tatay ko at ginagawa kong mikropono. Naging parang doorway po iyan sa programa ni Kuya Germs na ‘That’s Entertainment.’ Noong pumasok po ako sa ‘That’s,’ ang tanong ni Kuya Germs, ‘Anong kaya mong gawin, anak?’ I know how to sing. ‘You know how to dance?’ Yes. ‘Show us.’ Without hesitation, ang kinanta ko, ‘Born In The USA,’” Billy said.
Now, Billy has come full circle by hosting the Philippine franchise of the talent show “Little Big Shots.” Unlike other talent shows, it takes away the pressure from kids as this is not a talent competition.
“They’re in the show not just to show their talent kasi not all of them have a special talent. Pero lahat ay welcome. This is a showcase of kung ano ang batang Pinoy, kung paano tayo mag-alaga ng mga bata,” he said.
“Little Big Shots” gives Filipino talents a chance to be exposed not only in the country but in other parts of the world, as well, because franchiser Warner Bros. also selects some talents to guest in other franchising countries. “The Voice Kids” champion Elha Nympha, who impressed the US audience with her version of Sia’s “Chandelier,” have appeared as guest performer in Israel’s and Spain’s franchises.
More than the monetary grant, the contestants like to join the show to make their families proud.
“’Yung entire franchise niya sa buong mundo, parang pag nagustuhan sila, like si Ella (Nympha), nagustuhan nila sa US. Now si Ella nakapunta na sa Israel, sa Spain. Now nu’ng tinake namin na episode ay meron na silang tatlo na napili. ‘We want these kids in America.’ ’Yung iba meron nang inquiry sa UK. So, malaking tulong iyon sa kanila,” he said.
While Billy has hosted a number of shows, including “Your Face Sounds Familiar,” “Pilipinas Got Talent,” and “It’s Showtime,” he revealed that hosting “Little Big Shots” is his toughest job so far. Dealing with kids seems hard especially because he is not yet a parent.
“Nini-nerbiyos ako dealing with kids. Sa ‘Your Face Sounds Familiar Kids,’ they’re all professionals. They’re singers, competitions winners, performers. Itong mga batang ito, they’re strangers to me. Kailangan ko silang kilalanin. Doon ako nininerbiyos, kung paano ako makaka-connect sa mga bata.”
Interacting with kids and seeing their pureness and organic passion for performing drives Billy to work even harder. Even the press who watched the show’s preview attested to how entertaining and fun the show is.
“We’re so drained but we look forward to the next day of taping because alam namin na there’s something new na maaaliw na naman kaming mga bata. Sila ang energy pills namin. They push me to do my best and have fun. Gusto ko lang mag-enjoy kasama ang mga bata. Sa dami ng mga nangyayari sa mundong ito, ’yung ‘Little Big Shots,’ para siyang reset button. Makakalimutan mo kung ano man ang mga problema mo kasi napapanood mo ang future ng mundo, ang mga kabataan. That’s why I love this show,” he said.
Being young at heart, Billy is a natural when he is onstage with the kids. He acts like a big brother to them as he takes time to get to know every single kid before they take to the stage.
“Ang mga bata, may warm-up talaga iyan eh. Kapag may in-introduce sa mga bata, normally pupunta sila sa likod ng parents nila. Now, I have to base my relationship as a big brother, as a clown. Kung ano mang connection ang mabibigay ko sa mga bata, iyon ang binibigay ko before kami mag-start sa every single kid. So, pagpasok ko, I study the lines and after that I go straight to the kid. So we become more comfortable pagdating sa stage,” he said.
Billy noted how different it is now for child performers. He noticed that kids are more confident and inclined in honing their skills. They are also brave enough to join a number of talent shows.
“Hindi namin siya naiisip dati na trabaho. Imagine we were onstage, tapos nagpapakitang gilas ka lang, that’s big enough. Noong naiintindihan mo na ’yung ginagawa mo, that’s when you take it seriously. ’Yung mga bata ngayon ibang-iba sa panahon namin. It’s so interesting to see the attitude of kids, ’yung confidence nila, ’yung kakayahan nila. Ibang-iba sa ginagawa. Kami, noong nalaman namin na kaya naming kumanta o sumayaw, ’yung mga magulang namin, ‘Mag-practice kayo.’ ’Yung mga bata ngayon, kusa na nila (ginagawa),” he said.
Hosting a kiddie show and interacting with kids seem to be in preparation for him and his fiancé Coleen Garcia in becoming parents. However, Billy said they are taking it one step at a time as they plan to get married next year.
“Alam ko kung gaano kahirap mag-alaga ng mga bata, so nakaka-excite of course to have a family of my own with Coleen. We’re looking forward to it but not so fast. Kung handa na kami ni Coleen, I think that’s when God decided to give us the opportunity to have a family,” he said.
Billy also sees themselves as supportive parents in the future just like how their own parents nurtured them and supported their careers.
“Anything kung ano ang talent niya, I will support my kid para matupad ang pangarap niya. Kung gusto man niya mag basketball o kumanta, ang importante sa mga bata is the guidance of the parents. That’s what we look forward to ni Coleen, giving our kids a better future,” he said.
He is mum on the details of their wedding but shared both of them are hands-on with the preparations. It was in 2014 when Billy confirmed his relationship with Coleen, then got engaged in December 2016.
“Siguro it takes two to tango, so it depends on what we want. Natutunan namin ni Coleen on how to compromise, hindi na ’yung what I want, what she wants. Walang suwapang sa relationship na ito,” he said.
Disregarding rumors about competition with Ogie Alcasid, who also auditioned for the same task as host, Billy said he got the support of Ogie. He shared that Ogie has always been humble and nice despite his achievements. Billy was said to have been chosen by Warner Brothers because of his chemistry with the kids.
“Wala akong masabi kay kuya Ogie, sobrang humble. Noong unang beses na nalaman ko na sa akin napunta, ang unang nag-text sa akin si Kuya Ogie. Sabi niya, ‘Bro, I’m happy for you. I’m so proud of you. I will always be right here behind you anytime you need me.’ Simula bata pa lang ako kilala ko na si Kuya Ogie. It’s nothing about competition talaga. I’m still shocked na napunta sa akin pero wala ako masabi kay Kuya Ogie,” he said.
“Little Big Shots” airs weekends on ABS-CBN. (With report from Bhenj Agustin)
Tags: Billy Crawford, Billy Crawford comes full circle in new show, Coleen Garcia, Elha Nympha, Manila Bulletin, Manila Bulletin Entertainment, mb.com.ph, Ogie Alcasid, talent shows, With report from Bhenj Agustin, “Little Big Shots”